Adolphe Adam was a French composer of light operas and ballets, with equal success. He was born in Paris on 24th July, 1803, the son of the composer, pianist and teacher Louis Adam. Although not encouraged by his father to become a musician, he decided at an early age that he wished to compose theatre music.
Early Training and Education
Adolphe Adam studied at the Paris Conservatoire studying counterpoint with Reicha and opera composition with Boieldieu, becoming a composition conductor in Paris.
Earlier in 1825, he won second prize in the prestigious Prix de Rome. The following year, he met the famous opera librettist and dramatist Eugène Scribe, who helped him stage his early operas.
Later, he had a successful opera and ballet produced, staged in London and Russia.
Adam founded the Paris Theatre National.
Major Works by Adolphe Adam
A prolific composer, Adolphe Adam wrote more than eighty stage works, some of which were especially produced for the opera-comique (comic opera), for example, Le chalet (The Chalet) and Le postillon de Longjumeau (The Coachman of Longjumeau), had considerable and lasting success.
Notable works showing a natural sense of theatre and graceful melody include the well-known classic Romantic ballet Giselle for which he is best remembered, the opera Si J’etais roi (If I were King). He also wrote another ballet Le Corsaire. Most of Adam’s most beautiful music is found in Giselle.
Adam also wrote church music and songs, most popular is “Cantique de Noel,” popularly known as “O Holy Night.” But he found ballet music easier and more rewarding to compose even more than operas.
He died in his sleep in 1856, aged 52.