Georges Bizet was not eminent as a piano composer, for the number of his piano works is small and not very substantial in terms of form, content and character. Yet there is an exception: the “Jeux d’enfants” for piano four hands from 1871. In this loosely-connected series of twelve short and very terse genre pieces Bizet crafted a charming masterwork. With an unpretentious simplicity that is full of French ‘esprit’, he creates a unique and distinctive mood in each of the miniatures and the textural-harmonic means employed already point in the direction of Ravel and Debussy! Unfortunately, much of his compositional audacity was smoothed out in the first edition of 1872, making it all the more important that our Urtext edition also takes Bizet’s autograph into account. The preface and comments go into detail about all the discrepancies of the first edition, thereby offering a fascinating glimpse into publishing history.
- La Toupie
- La Poupée
- Les Chevaux de bois
- Le Volant
- Trompette et Tambour
Bizet was an extraordinarily accomplished pianist; even Franz Liszt, unquestionably the leading pianist of the nineteenth century, accorded him praise and admiration. All the same, Bizet was not a composer for the piano. Not only is the number of his works for piano small, those that do exist are neither so substantial nor so characteristic in their form and content that one … more
About the composer
This composer of what is today the most famous French opera of the 1870s, Carmen, enjoyed little success during his lifetime as an opera composer although he made significant innovations.
|1838||Born in Paris on October 25, the son of a voice teacher and a pianist.|
|1848||Admission to the piano studio of Antoine François Marmontel at the Paris Conservatoire; private instruction in music theory.|
|around 1849||Acquaintance with Gounod.|
|1853||Enters Fromental Halévy’s composition class. During his lifetime he will make his living by giving piano lessons, producing piano reductions and transcriptions, and performing as a rehearsal pianist.|
|1855||Symphony in C major.|
|1856||First prize together with Charles Lecocq in a competition announced by Jacques Offenbach.|
|1857||He wins the Grand Prix de Rome with his cantata “Clovis et Clotilde.” Subsequent three-year residency in Rome.|
|1859–60||“Ode Symphony” Vasco de Gama.|
|1860–68||Composition of the “Roma” Symphony.|
|1863||Relatively unsuccessful premiere of the opera “Les Pêcheurs de perles” (“The Pearl Fishers”) at the Théâtre-Lyrique to a libretto by Carré and E. Cormon; it helps establish the newly evolving genre of the drame lyrique.|
|1867||Relatively unsuccessful premiere of “La jolie fille de Perth” (“The Fair Maid of Perth”) at the Théâtre-Lyrique.|
|1872||Premiere of “Djamileh” at the Opéra-Comique. Incidental music for Alphonse Daudet’s tragedy “L’Arlésienne,” out of which develops the “L’Arlésienne Suite.”|
|1875||Premiere of “Carmen” at the Opéra-Comique with its theme of a femme fatale and ‘realistic’ features; it is received in Paris with restraint, achieving its breakthrough only in Vienna; Bizet dies in Bougival near Paris three months earlier on June 3.|
About the authors
This Henle edition is based on the original, the only authorized edition to appear during Bizet's lifetime.