Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Benjamin Godard

Benjamin Godard (Benjamin Louis Paul Godard) was a French violinist and composer born on August 18, 1849 (Brahms was 16 years old.) He entered the Paris Conservatory in 1863, at age 14, where he studied with Henri Vieuxtemps, among others. He also began to compose as a teenager and throughout his life received various awards and honors for his compositions, many of them large scale. He worked as a violist while waiting for his eventual success as a composer. His violin concerto (Concerto Romantique) was performed at the Concerts Populaires in 1876 as were other of his large works later on. In 1878, Godard won the Prix de la Ville de Paris for his symphony, Le Tasso. Godard is most famous for his “Berceuse” from his opera Jocelyn, one of eight operas he composed (1888.) He became a professor at the Paris Conservatory in 1887. Godard was among many musicians (including Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, and Brahms) opposed to the music of Richard Wagner. Among his many works are three symphonies, two violin concertos, two piano concertos, three string quartets, four (or five) violin sonatas, a sonata for cello and piano, two piano trios, one hundred songs, and various other orchestral works. Though live performances of his music are rare, there are almost 100 recordings of his works available. One of the latest is Chloe Hanslip’s recording of the two violin concertos on the Naxos label. Godard died on January 10, 1895, at age 45.

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