Édouard Lalo

Édouard Lalo (Edouard-Victoire-Antoine Lalo) was among the French composers whose work enjoyed success in the 19th century. His family had been in the military for generations since they moved from Spain to Flanders in the 16th century, and his father was in Napoleon’s army. The talented Edward broke with that tradition and became a professional musician.

In his hometown of Lille, Lalo attended the local conservatory and took violin and cello lessons. His cello teacher, Peter Baumann, often played under Ludwig van Beethoven in Vienna. Without the material support of his family, Lalo enrolled at the age of 16 at the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied violin and composition with François Antoine Habeneck, who conducted student concerts at the Conservatoire from 1806 and was instrumental in popularising Beethoven’s symphonies to Parisian audiences. As a student, Lalo did very well and received second prize in the Prix de Rome competition in 1847. For several years, after graduating from the Paris Conservatoire , Lalo worked as a string player and teacher in Paris. In 1848, he joined with friends to found the Armingaud Quartet, in which he played the viola and later, second violin. His earliest surviving compositions are songs and chamber works plus two early symphonies were destroyed.

In 1865, Lalo married Julie Besnier de Maligny, a contralto.  In the spirit of the age, he composed musical and stage works that were not successful. His best-known opera is Le Roi d’Ys, not staged until 1888, when the composer was already 65 years old and was invited to join the Legion of Honour ( in 1884).

The formation of the Société nationale in 1870 in order to promote the works of contemporary French composers inspired Lalo to focus on orchestral works and instrumental concertos. His music is notable for its expressive melodies and multi-coloured orchestration. He is the author of the Norwegian Rhapsody (1879), the Symphony in G minor (1886) and others. After his acquaintance with the great Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate, who was actively performing in Paris at the time, Lalo composed several instrumental works that brought him great popularity during his lifetime and are now part of the repertoire for violinists and cellists. Lalo dedicated his Violin Concerto (1873) to Sarasate, and a year later his best-known work, Symphonie espagnole for violin and orchestra (1874). This was followed by his Cello Concerto in D minor (1876), his Piano Concerto (1889) and others.

He passed away in Paris on April 22nd , 1892.

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