Music with Ease > 19th Century French Opera > Life of Hérold
The Life of Louis Hérold
Louis Hérold was born in Paris in 1791, the son of a pianist who had studied under Emanuel Bach. He, also went to the Conservatoire, and also took the Prix de Rome. After the three years study at Rome he proceeded to Naples, where, in 1815, he was successful with his maiden opera. Returning to Paris, he collaborated in an opera with Boieldieu, the composer of "La Dame Blanche." This work was favourably received, and in the same year (1816) Hérold brought out, at the Opera Comique, his own "Les Rosieres," which took the town by storm. In his next opera, "La Clochette," he maintained the reputation he had thus won.
But many failures followed, due in most cases to the choice of poor libretti; and it was not until 1831 that he wrote the work by which he is now chiefly known. This was "Zampa," which even to-day enjoys an almost undiminished popularity in Germany. In the following year he produced what his countrymen regard as the crown of his creations, "Le Pré aux Clercs." The thousandth performance of this work was given in Paris in 1871, but in England its vogue has not been great. Hérold lived a strenuous life, and the drudgery of his professional occupations (he was accompanist, and later, chorus-master at the Italian Opera) did not leave him sufficient leisure for the full development of his talent. He had been in poor health for some years before he succumbed to a chest complaint in 1833. Shortly before his death he modestly remarked to a friend: "I am going too soon; I was just beginning to understand the stage." Thus also Haydn, at the end of his long career, spoke of himself as having only begun to know how to use the wind instruments of the orchestra.