Irénée Berge

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Irénée Bergé
Born (1867-02-01)February 1, 1867
Toulouse, France
Died July 30, 1926(1926-07-30) (aged 59)
Jersey City, New Jersey, US
Occupation Composer
Known for Music for Silent films

Irénée Bergé (February 1, 1867[1] – July 30, 1926) was a French composer, conductor and instructor who lived in the United States. In spite of confusions between his given name and Irène, Bergé was male.

Early life and career[edit]

According to one source he was born in Toulouse[2] although other sources say Paris.[3][4][5] He attended the Conservatoire de Paris where he studied with Jules Massenet and Théodore Dubois.[4][5] While under Massenet's tutelage, he and other of the composers' students purchased a gift for the opera singer Sibyl Sanderson, who rewarded them by making a personal visit and sang an excerpt from the opera Esclarmonde with the composer at the piano. "The students were spellbound...never had they enjoyed their professor's opera so much, and never had they heard such artistic singing."[6] Although not mentioned in his obituaries, Berge apparently also was a tenor. In an 1897 performance of Berlioz's L'enfance du Christ, a reviewer noted "Irénée Bergé, a young tenor of excellent schooling, whose voice—though not too powerful—had a very agreeable timbre, and a very distinguished [performance]. He and that of the orchestra....had a grand success."[7]

Before immigrating to the United States he was an assistant conductor at Covent Garden.[4] At the invitation of Jeannette Thurber Bergé came to New York in 1902[8] to teach at the National Conservatory of Music of America.[4][5]

Work in the United States[edit]

He wrote two operas, Corsica and Nicolette[3][5] (one source includes an opera titled The Knave of Hearts).[9] Corsica was written to a libretto by Frederick F. Schrader. It had its premiere in the week prior to November 13, 1910 on a bill with Joseph Carl Breil's opera Love Laughs at Locksmiths (also with a libretto by Schrader) in Kingston, New York, as part of Breil's touring opera company.[10] A 1915 announcement indicated that Corsica "has been just acquired for London and was scheduled for production in the spring."[11]

In 1915 he wrote the song "Blue Bonnet" (with lyricist George Sloan Bryan) and entered it in a contest for the Texas state song.[12]

Bergé is known for composing many silent film music cues. These were not written for a specific film but as generic pieces appropriate to the mood of the specific scene.[13]

He had been living at 35 Van Wagenen Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey, when he died on July 30, 1926. He was survived by his wife Jeanne.

Partial list of works[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cohen and Herringshaw indicate his birth year as 1870. All other sources indicate his being born in 1867. The earlier date is also consistent with the immigration document found on Ancestry.com.
  2. ^ Aaron I. Cohen, International Encyclopedia of Women Composers, Second edition (New York: Books & Music Inc., 1987), p. 76.
  3. ^ a b Pierre Key's Music Year Book 1926–27 (New York: Pierre Key Inc., 1926), p. 327.
  4. ^ a b c d "Irénée Bergé dead," Musical Observer vol. 25, no. 9 (Sept. 1926), p. 45.
  5. ^ a b c d "Irénée Berge," [obituary] Musical America (August 7, 1926), p. 23.
  6. ^ Jack Winsor Hansen, The Sibyl Sanderson Story: Requiem for a Diva (Pompton Plains, NJ: Amadeus Press, 2005), p. 104.
  7. ^ Henry Carmouche, "Correspondances: Nancy," Le Guide Musicale vol. 43, no. 5 (Jan. 31, 1897), p. 97.
  8. ^ Some sources indicate he arrived in 1900. But according to New York, Passenger Lists, 1820–1957 on Ancestry.com (access by subscription), he left the port of Le Havre and arrived in New York on September 6, 1902 aboard the S.S. Rio Negro and was accompanied by Aurelie Bergé. Both were listed as "age 34."
  9. ^ Herringshaw's City Blue Book of Biography: New Yorker's of 1917: Ten Thousand Biographies (Chicago: C.J. Herringshaw, 1917), p. 61.
  10. ^ "Gossip of the Plays and the Players," The Decatur Review(Illinois) (November 13, 1910), p. 20. The casts of both included Christian Hansen, Frances Hewitt Browne, Vera Roberts, Karl Stall and Harry Lew Ellen.
  11. ^ "Schrader's Work for England," Washington Post (January 11, 1915), p. 3.
  12. ^ Irénée Berge, G.S. Bryan, Blue Bonnet: The State Song of Texas (New York: G. Schirmer, 1915).
  13. ^ See for example works published in: Erno Rapee, Motion Picture Moods for Pianists and Organists (New York: G. Schirmer, 1924), S. M. Berg, Cinema Incidental Series (New York: Belwin, 1918-), Capitol Photoplay Series (New York: Robbins-Engel, 1925), Artist's orchestra repertoire: Photoplay series (New York: Ross Jungnickel, 1922-1924).