The Company Index
Léo Clement Philibert Delibes was born in Saint Germain-du-Val near
Le Mans, France in 1836. Musical parents provided his introduction to
the piano and composition and he eventually attended the Paris Conservatoire,
studying Piano, Organ and Composition. One of his many teachers was Adolphe Adam,
compser of Giselle.
He was the organist at Saint Pierre de Chailot between 1853 and 1862 and
at Saint Jean-Saint François from 1862 to 1871. Also in 1853, he took up
to position of accompanist at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris, and two years
later, completed his first operetta, Deux Sous de Charbon. This was staged
and led to a series of popular operettas and operas, the most famous of
which is Lakmé (1883).
Despite the success of his operas and the composition of many songs and
religious works, he is best remembered for his ballets. In 1865 he took
up the post of second chorus master at the Paris Opéra and it was here
that all three ballets were written and premiered. The first, La Source
(1866) was written in collaboration with the composer Minkus, but Coppélia
(1870) and Sylvia (1876) were written entirely by Delibes, were huge successes,
and had an important infuence on Tchaikovsky's ballet music.
He was a professor of composition at the Paris Conservatoire from 1881
until his death in 1891 at the age of 55.