Charles Lecocq in 1880
3 June 1832|
24 October 1918 (aged 86)|
Alexandre Charles Lecocq (3 June 1832 – 24 October 1918) was a French composer who specialized in the musical theater (primarily operetta and opéra comique).
Life and career
Lecocq was born in Paris as one of five children in a poor family. As a child, he suffered from coxofemoral joint tuberculosis (hip disease), which caused him to need crutches throughout his life. He was admitted into the Conservatoire in 1849, being already an accomplished pianist. Among his classmates were Georges Bizet and Camille Saint-Saëns, both of whom became friends of Lecocq. He studied harmony under François Bazin and composition with Fromental Halévy. Despite his disability, he was also able to have some success at the organ; he studied under François Benoist. In 1850 Lecocq won first prize for harmony, and in 1852 second prize for fugue. In 1854, he had to leave the Conservatoire prematurely in order help his parents by giving lessons and by playing for the dance lessons of the well-known dance teacher Cellarius. He first gained notice in 1856 by sharing with Georges Bizet the first prize for an operetta in a competition instituted by Jacques Offenbach.
Lecocq's prize-winning piece, Le Docteur Miracle, was performed at Offenbach's Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens in 1857. With this initial success, Lecocq's course was set and he wrote for the theater continually throughout his life. Overall, he wrote more than 50 operettas and similar stage works, plus over 100 songs. His first significant success came with Fleur-de-thé (1868), which ran for more than a hundred nights. Les cent vierges (1872) was also favorably received.
His previous successes, however, were as nothing compared with La fille de Madame Angot (Brussels, 1872), which premiered in the Fantaisies-Parisiennes, Brussels, on 4 Dec 1872, but in Paris beginning in 1873 was performed for more than 400 nights consecutively, thereafter gained enormous popularity, and since that time has remained a part of the classic operetta repertory. Though he wrote more than 30 operettas and opéras comiques after 1873, Lecocq never equalled his early triumph in La fille de Madame Angot.
Among the librettists who worked with Lecoq were Eugène Leterrier, Albert Vanloo, Henri Chivot, and Alfred Duru. His last solo composition credit was for the opéra comique La trahison de Pan (The Betrayal of Pan) in 1911. In 1900, Lecocq was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, in 1910 Officier. He died in his home city of Paris, aged 85.
Lecocq was regarded by many as the natural successor to Offenbach. Camille Saint-Saëns was a friend and never ceased to admire Lecocq's music, which is characterized as rich in melody and pleasingly conforming to contemporary taste of the decades from 1860 to 1890. Its expression ranges across the possibilities of the genre, from dramatic effects to pronounced lyricism.
- Marie-Aude Roux, Le Monde du 16 mai 2014, p. 16. Cited from the French Wikipedia article.
- Cited from the German language Wikipedia page for this composer.
- Andrew Lamb, "Lecocq, (Alexandre) Charles," Oxford Music Online. Accessed 18 March 2018.
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lecocq, Alexandre Charles". Encyclopædia Britannica. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 355.
- "(Alexandre) Charles Lecocq," The Guide to Light Opera and Operetta.
- La fille de Madame Angot at www.oldandsold.com
- Cited from the French language Wikipedia page for this composer.
- Warrack, John and West, Ewan (1992), The Oxford Dictionary of Opera ISBN 0-19-869164-5
- Lamb, Andrew (2000), 150 Years of Popular Musical Theatre, Yale University Press (New Haven, Connecticut)ISBN 0-300-07538-3