French composer. At 18 he composed his first opera, La Fille coupable (1793), which was produced at Rouen. In 1803 he occupied the post of maître de chapelle to Emperor Alexander at St Petersburg, Russia, but in 1811 returned to Paris to produce more operas, including the two most successful, Jean de Paris (1812) and La Dame blanche (1825).
Boieldieu was born in Rouen and studied under Broche, the organist of Rouen Cathedral. His first opera, La Fille coupable, was written to a libretto by his father, who was secretary to the archbishop. He also wrote many songs at that time, some of which were published in Paris. Having failed to establish a school of music at Rouen on the model of the Paris Conservatory, he left for the capital, where in 1797 he produced his first opera away from home, La Famille Suisse, which was so successful that he brought out four more within two years. He also became piano professor at the Conservatory in 1798. Being reproached by the composer Luigi Cherubini for having attained too easy a success on very slender gifts, he placed himself under that master for a course in counterpoint. In 1802 he married the dancer Clotilde Mafleuray, with disastrous results, and in 1803 he left for St Petersburg as conductor of the Imperial Opera. There he wrote nine operas 1804–10. In 1811 he returned to Paris, where he had greater success than previously; probably due to there being less competition and an improvement in his work.
He collaborated by turns with Cherubini, Charles Catel, Nicolò Isouard, Rodolphe Kreutzer, Ferdinand Hérold, Henri-Montan Berton, Ferdinando Paer, and Daniel Auber, also with some of these and Désiré Batton, Felice Blangini, and Michele Carafa in La Marquise de Brinvilliers (1831), but his best works were composed alone. In La Dame blanche, to match the libretto from Scott, he used some Scottish folk songs. His last years were troubled by illness and poverty: he began to suffer from tuberculosis contracted in Russia, and his fortune declined until he was granted a state pension. In 1827 he was married for the second time, to the singer Jenny Philis-Bertin, with whom he had long been living and by whom in 1815 he had a son, Adrien Louis Victor, who also became a composer. Boieldieu lived in Geneva, Switzerland, for a time not long before his death.
WorksOperaLe Calife de Bagdad (1800), Ma Tante Aurore (1803), Aline, Reine de Golconde (1804), La Jeune Femme colère, Télémaque (1807), Rien de trop, Jean de Paris (1812), La Fête du village voisin, Le Petit Chaperon rouge, La Dame blanche (1825), Les Deux Nuits, and others.
Incidental music incidental music for Racine's Athalie.
Orchestral piano concerto (1792), harp concerto (1801).
Chamber piano trio and other chamber music; duets for violin and piano, and harp and piano, six piano sonatas.