Georges Bizet (1838-1875)

Episodes

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01Carmen And Back To The Beginning20120312

Donald Macleod traces Bizet's musical development back to its roots.

Georges Bizet's Carmen is reputed to have had a disastrous opening night, but as Donald Macleod discovers in today's programme, it wasn't quite as simple as that. Although by the end of that performance the critical reception was negative enough to deeply upset the composer, there were times during the premiere when it seemed as if Carmen would turn out to be the triumph that Bizet had wanted for so long. We trace his musical development back to its roots and hear some of his earliest works, including the Symphony in C, written when Bizet was just 17.

02Bizet In Rome20120313

Donald Macleod follows the young Bizet to Rome after his prize at the Paris Conservatoire.

Donald Macleod focuses on the life and work of Georges Bizet. In today's programme we follow the young Bizet to Rome after he won the big prize at the Paris Conservatoire. Once there, Bizet set about shrugging off the influence of his mentor, Charles Gounod, as well as the strict rules imposed by the Prix de Rome. Bizet's years in Italy were fruitful and we'll hear some of the many works he began there, as well as more from his most famous opera Carmen, with a twist.

03Back To Paris20120314

Donald Macleod focuses on the years after Bizet's return from Rome.

Donald Macleod continues his exploration of the life and work of Georges Bizet. The years after Bizet's return from Rome are characterised by false starts and an anxious self-doubt. He abandoned many grand projects and those stage works he completed met with a decidedly lukewarm reception. In this programme we'll hear from three of Bizet's operas on the way to Carmen - La Jolie Fille de Perth, Djamileh and The Pearl Fishers - as well as a version of Carmen unlike any other.

Producer Martin Williams.

04Devotion To The Dramatic20120315

Donald Macleod on Bizet's later life, when he remained committed to writing for the stage.

Donald Macleod continues his look at the life and work of Georges Bizet. The composer suffered from ill health all his life - a condition not helped by a string of critical failures. It propelled Bizet to search for some philosophy or faith which would sustain him. And he seemed to find it, writing to a friend: "an extraordinary change is taking place in me. I am changing my skin, both as an artist and as a man." Despite these changes, Bizet remained steadfast in his commitment to writing for the stage throughout his life. In this programme we hear a Russian take on Carmen and we meet the beguiling girl from Arles, L'Arlesienne.

05 LASTCarmen - Tragedy And Then Triumph20120316

Donald Macleod tells the story of Bizet's final months.

On the 3rd of March 1875 Bizet was invested with the ribbon of a knight of Legion of Honour, France's highest cultural distinction. The date was not insignificant: that very evening, his new opera Carmen would have its premiere at the Opera-Comique. The Parisian press would go on to savage Carmen, and within weeks the composer was dead. Donald Macleod tells the story of Bizet's final months.