Composer. One of the first Italian musicians to work in the Classical tradition, he is known for his religious music, especially the superb Requiem in C Minor (1816). Beethoven considered Cherubini the greatest dramatic composer of his time, though his operas were never popular and are rarely performed today. The best of them, "Medee" (1797), would probably be heard more often were it not for the lack of sopranos able to handle the difficult title role. Cherubini was born in Florence, Italy, and studied music in Milan and Bologna. In 1788 he settled in Paris, where he toiled in obscurity for nearly 30 years. His austere music and intractable temper earned him the personal dislike of Napoleon I, who saw to it that the Paris Opera was closed to him. ("Napoleon prefers music he can listen to while thinking about affairs of state," the composer quipped). Although he enjoyed some acclaim in Vienna and London, it was not until the accession of King Louis XVIII in 1815 that his fortunes really improved. By then he had abandoned opera and was devoting himself to sacred works. As director of the Paris Conservatory from 1822 to 1841, Cherubini became a bulwark of musical reaction, cutting off that institution from Romanticism and all other progressive trends. When he retired at age 80, he told his successor, "I need not remind you that the word 'Conservatory' means you must conserve tradition." Cherubini produced around 450 compositions, including 25 operas, 11 masses, and numerous motets, litanies, and cantatas. His final work, the fine Requiem in D Minor (1841), was written for his own funeral.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards
Né à Florence le 8 sept. 1760 / Membre de l’Institut de France, Direur du Conservatoire / Intendant de la Musique des rois Louis XVIII et Charles X / Membre de l’Ordre royal de la Légion d’Honneur....