German opera composer Giacomo Meyerbeer was born in Tasdorf, near Berlin, on 5 September 1791, into a wealthy Jewish family, as Jacob Liebmann Beer. He began his career as a pianist, but decided to switch to opera, studying in Italy for several years with Salieri and Carl Friedrich Zelter. He gained recognition with the 1824 Il crociato in Egitto in Venice, but with Robert le diable, produced in Paris in 1831, he gained superstar status. He was possibly the nineteenth century's most successful opera composer. Le prophète of 1849 is probably his best-known opera.
He lived a dual life in Paris and Berlin, immensely wealthy and successful, and the subject of much jealosy from other composers.
He died in Paris on 2 May 1864, aged seventy-two.
A selection of M&V articles about Giacomo Meyerbeer
An Affectionate Eye - George Bernard Shaw as London Music Critic, by George Colerick
CD Spotlight. Mastery of Adaptation - Opera transcriptions for piano, heard by Howard Smith. '... illuminating performances ...'
CD Spotlight. Pure Gain - Ballet music from Meyerbeer operas, heard by Robert Anderson. '... very stylish playing ...'
Ensemble. Feminism and Anti-colonialism - Meyerbeer's L'Africaine, reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi
CD Spotlight. Nostalgic and Enthralling - A Joan Sutherland portrait, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... a fitting tribute to the singing legend from Australia ...'
CD Spotlight. A Fine Collection - Operatic bass arias sung by William Powers, heard by Paul Sarcich. '... a formidable mixture of operatic styles ...'
Ensemble. Beautifully Wrought - Wagner's 'Tannhäuser' at Covent Garden, by Robert Hugill
Ensemble. An Epic Opera - Rossini's 'William Tell', from Rome to the BBC Proms, by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Liszt at lunchtime - Eri Niiyama gives a recital in Tokyo's Suntory Hall, and Keith Bramich listens