French composer. His Spanish ancestry and violin training are evident in the Symphonie espagnole (1873) for violin and orchestra, and Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (1877). He also wrote an opera, Le Roi d'Ys/The King of Ys (1887).
He first studied violin and cello at the Lille Conservatory and then violin in Paris, taking composition lessons privately at the same time. In 1855 he became viola player in the Armingaud-Jacquard quartet. He wrote little until 1865, the year of his marriage to Mlle Bernier de Maligny, who sang his songs in public. Gradually his success grew both in the opera house and the concert room.
His most popular works during his lifetime were the opera Le Roi d'Ys and the ballet Namouna (1882). He is best known today for the five-movement Symphonie espagnole for violin and orchestra, and the cello concerto.
WorksStage operas Fiesque (after Schiller, composed 1866–67), Le Roi d'Ys (1887), La Jacquerie (unfinished, completed by Coquard, performed 1895); pantomime with choruses Néron; ballet Namouna (1882).
OrchestralSymphonie espagnole (1873), Fantaisie norvégienne (1878), Romance-Sérénade (1879) and Concerto russe (1879) for violin and orchestra, Rhapsodie norvégienne (1881), symphony in G minor (1886), Divertissement, scherzo for orchestra, two aubades for small orchestra, concerto, concertos for piano and for cello.
Chamber string quartet (later revised as No. 2), three piano trios; violin and piano sonata and a number of pieces, cello and piano sonata and pieces; La Mère et l'enfant for piano duet.
Other over 30 songs and two vocal duets; church music.