Without doubt, Michael William Balfe (1808-1870) was the most successful composer of English opera in the mid nineteenth century. During his lifetime he enjoyed an international reputation and worked with some of the leading singers of the time, including Jenny Lind, Malibran and Grisi. Drawing on previously unused source materials such as letters, legal documents and playbills, this biography of Balfe and in-depth study of his English operas overturns many of the previously accepted 'facts' of the composer's lifestyle. Using London as his base, Dublin-born Balfe spent long periods in Paris and travelled widely in Europe. William Tyldesley discusses the continental influences evident in Balfe's operas and offers new suggestions as to the draw that Paris held for the composer. Far from leading a fairly prosperous and unexceptional life, Balfe is shown to have found himself in financial straits on more than one occasion, and to have employed possibly unethical means of extracting himself from them. Those wishing to perform Balfe's works or to do further research into them, will find Tyldesley's re-examination of the composer a necessary first port of call.
'Ashgate are to be applauded for having included this title in their music series… William Tyldesley's elegant written biography covers all facets of Balfe… [Tyldesley's] clear and detailed descriptions of the appearance of the material he has been working from makes it unnecessary for anyone to consider a need to look at the sources further… This biography replaces the previous one. The reader feels he is present during the searches and William Tyldsley's lively descriptions make the reading of his intriguing bigoraphy a joy.' MusicWeb 'Highly recommended for anyone interested in Victorian music and operas before Gilbert & Sullivan.' The Delian 'This book is excellent on the analysis of Balfe's operas and other works… a valuable addition to musical scholarship…' Opera Now 'As the first full-length study of Balfe and his English opera, […], William Tyldesley's monograph addresses a long-standing need for a more comprehensive look at this important figure… In making all this information readily available, Tyldesley has rendered an enormous service for scholars of the era.' Opera Quarterly 'The author examines each of the operas in great detail and his enthusiasm for Balfe's work shines on every page. He has succeeded in presenting a biographical and musical portrait of the composer which has been long overdue. Altogether a worthy tribute.' Dublin Historical Record 'Tyldesley's book tackles the important task of beginning to redress the incorrect myths and legends generated from contemporary and late nineteenth-century works on Balfe and the lack of modern scholarship on an important figure in British music and opera.' Notes 'The main contribution of William Tyldesley's biography that should interest historians is its intriguing narrative of how Balfe moved around the continent, first as a singer […] and then as a composer, from Rome to Naples to Paris, gaining the support of Cherubini and Rossini along the way… Tyldesley has done the first
Contents: Preface; Introduction; 1807-34: Early years and travels; 1834: Back in London - the English opera: constructional units and related matters; 1835: The Siege of Rochelle; 1836-43: The Maid of Artois, Catherine Grey, Diadeste, Joan of Arc, KÃ«olanthe; 1843: The Bohemian Girl; 1844-46: The Daughter of St Mark, The Enchantress, The Bondman; 1847-57: The Maid of Honour, The Sicilian Bride, The Devil's in it! (Letty); 1857-58: The Rose of Castille, Satanella; 1860-63: Bianca, The Bravo's Bride, The Puritan's Daughter, The Armourer of Nantes, Blanche de Nevers; Balfe after the English operas: 1860-70 and later; An overview: The life of Balfe, Unanswered questions, Balfe's English operas; Bibliography; Previously unpublished material; Index.
So much of our ‘common’ knowledge of music in nineteenth-century Britain is bound up with received ideas. This series disputes their validity through research critically reassessing our perceptions of the period. Volumes in the series cover wide-ranging areas such as composers and composition; conductors, management and entrepreneurship; performers and performing; music criticism and the press; concert venues and promoters; church music and music theology; repertoire, genre, analysis and theory; instruments and technology; music education and pedagogy; publishing, printing and book selling; reception, historiography and biography; women and music; masculinity and music; gender and sexuality; domestic music-making; empire, orientalism and exoticism; and music in literature, poetry, theatre and dance.