William Vincent Wallace
William Vincent Wallace was born at Waterford, Ireland, July 1, 1813, and died at the Chateau de Bergen, in the Pyrenees, October 12, 1865.
The family migrated to Dublin, and Wallace soon became known as a violinist, organist and conductor.
He went to Australia in 1835, and for a time lived adventurously by sea and land.
In 1845 he found himself in London. Maritana was written and produced at Drury Lane the same year, and established Wallace’s reputation.
Other operas followed, but in 1849 he was in charge of a concert party in South America.
Fourteen years in Germany followed, where his piano music was in great demand.
Little of it is now remembered, though his first Polka de Concert and the piano arrangement of Paganini’s Witches’ Dance are still with us.
He was invited to write an opera for Paris, but his eyesight failed him, and he undertook another trip to North and South America.
He lost a fortune in New York, but made another by concert work, and returned to London in 1853.
His Lurline was produced at Covent Garden in 1860, and was followed by other operas, now mostly forgotten.
Wallace had remarkable gifts as a composer, but suffered from a “fatal facility” which led to the production of many works of no permanent value.
His taste for adventure also interfered with his success to a great extent.
His tuneful Maritana, however, will always delight lovers of simple melody.