Although from a musical background (his father taught piano at Paris Conservatoire), French composer Adolphe Adam was not encouraged to become a musician. However, at an early age he began to compose, specifically, theatre music and entered Paris Conservatoire at the age of 17. By the age of 20 he was already writing songs for Paris vaudeville theatres and played in the orchestra at the Gymnase, later becoming Chorus Master there.
Adam wrote numerous works during his lifetime for the Gymnase and Opera Comique, many of which achieved great success. He also scored several ballets at the Paris Opera where the composition by which he is probably best known, 'Giselle', was first performed.
Aside from Paris, Adam's works were performed in London, St. Petersburg and Berlin.
After a quarrel with the new Director of the Opera Comique in 1844, in which the Director vowed never to perform a work by Adam at his theatre again, Adam made plans to open a third opera house in Paris - the Opera National. However, after initial success, when the 1848 Revolution broke out the Opera National was forced to close, leaving Adam completely ruined. In order to pay off his debts, Adam turned to journalism and subsequently taught composition at the Paris Conservatoire, a position he held until his death. Meanwhile, after a change of Director at the Opera Comique, Adam was able to return to his spiritual home and in July 1850 one of his best works, 'Giralda', was produced there.
During the final years of his life, Adam composed prolifically as ever, producing one of his finest ballets, 'Le Corsaire' at the Paris Opera. His last work, 'Les Pantins de Violette' received its premiere four days before he died.
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