Gustave Charpentier was born at Dieuze, Alsace-Lorraine, June 25, 1860, and died February 18, 1956, in Paris, France.
At the age of fifteen he went into business for two years, but studied music at the Lille Conservatoire.
After carrying off many prizes he went to the Paris Conservatoire in 1881, and studied violin under Massart and compositions under Pessard.
In 1885 he entered Massenet’s composition class, and two years later won the Grand Prix de Rome.
Among the works he brought back with him from Italy was the orchestral suite, Impressions d’Italie, which rapidly became famous, and is frequently heard in America.
He also composed his La Vie du Poete, a “symphony-drama” for orchestra, solo and chorus, to words of his own.
He wrote other works, including the opera Orphee, and much choral and orchestral music, but the most remarkable work Charpentier has yet accomplished in his “musical romance” Louise, which was produced at the Opera Comique, Paris, in 1900. This work was first heard in America in 1908, when it was produced in New York under Hammerstein’s management. Here, as elsewhere, it created a great impression and is one of the most notable examples of modern French opera.
Charpentier was deeply interested in the social problems of the day, and voiced many of his opinions in this work – its remarkable libretto is his own work.