BALFE, Michael William – Come into the Garden, Maude – for TWO CELLOS
Prepared by David JOHNSTONE as a small concert piece
PDF 1 – Playing Score for both Cellos
EXAMPLE from Cello Part:
Michael William Balfe (15th May 1808 – 20th October 1870) was an Irish composer, born in Dublin, and best remembered for his operas, especially ‘The Bohemian Girl’.
His musical gifts became apparent at an early age; at the age of seven composed a polacca. At aged nine when he performed on the piano and violin at the Rotunda Concert Rooms and Crow Street Theatre. In these early years he even composed a ballad. He was taught the violin by his father and after the latter’s death the youngster moved to England, supporting himself as an orchestral player. A patron allowed him to study counterpoint and singing for a brief period in Italy. So, after a short career as a violinist, Balfe pursued an operatic singing career, while he began to compose. In Italy, he wrote his first dramatic work, a ballet, ‘La Perouse’. He was also a noted conductor, directing Italian Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre for seven years, among other conducting posts.
In Lugano, Switzerland, around 1831 he married Lina Roser (1806–1888), a Hungarian-born singer of Austrian parentage whom he had met at Bergamo. The couple had two sons and two daughters. Balfe returned to London with his wife and young daughter in May 1835. His initial success took place some months later, with the premiere of ‘The Siege of Rochelle’ on 29 October 1835 at Drury Lane. Encouraged by his success, he produced The Maid of Artois in 1836; which was followed by more operas in English. In July 1838, Balfe composed a new opera, ‘Falstaff’, for The Italian Opera House, based on ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’.
In 1841, Balfe founded the National Opera at the Lyceum Theatre, but the venture was a failure. The same year, he premiered his opera, ‘Keolanthe’. He then moved to Paris, presenting ‘Le Puits d’amour’ (1843) in early 1843, followed by his opera based on ‘Les quatre fils Aymon’ (1844) for the Opéra-Comique (also popular in German-speaking countries for many years as ‘Die vier Haimonskinder’) and ‘L’étoile de Seville’ (1845). In 1843, Balfe returned to London where he produced his most successful work, ‘The Bohemian Girl’, on 27th November 1843 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The work ran for over 100 nights, and more productions were soon mounted in New York, Dublin, Philadelphia, Vienna (in German), Sydney, and indeed throughout Europe and elsewhere. In 1854, an Italian adaptation called ‘La Zingara’ was mounted in Trieste with great success, and it too was performed internationally in both Italian and German. In 1862, a four-act French version, entitled ‘La Bohemienne’ was produced in France and was again a success.
In a career spanning more than 40 years, he composed at least 29 operas, almost 250 songs, several cantatas and other works. He also wrote several cantatas (including Mazeppa in 1862) and a symphony (1829). Balfe’s only large-scale piece that is still performed today is ‘The Bohemian Girl’.
Balfe retired in 1864 to Hertfordshire, where he rented a country estate. He died at his home in Rowney Abbey, Ware, Hertfordshire, in 1870, aged 62. Operatic groups have access to all Balfe’s operas thanks to his manuscripts being bequeathed to the British Library by his widow, Lina Balfe. A most interesting composer who we should not lose sight of!
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