The Kennedy Center

Georges Bizet


Born in Paris, France, in 1838, Georges Bizet was a pianist, composer of operas and is best known for Carmen, among the most famous of operas. Georges' musical education was initially taken care of by his mother, a talented pianist, who started teaching him at the tender age of four. He was admitted to the Paris Conservatory before he was quite ten. He was a brilliant piano student, but was more interested in composition and began to write operas at the age of 16.

At 19 he won the conservatory's big prize, the Prix de Rome, which provided financial support for him to study for a few years at the French Academy in Rome. In December 1857 the young musician left for Rome. There, he became a hard-working composer, turning out a steady stream of songs, piano pieces, and works for orchestra.

In 1860 his stay in Italy ended and Bizet returned to Paris, where a few difficult years lay ahead. . He earned his living by teaching and various other jobs. Even though he was an excellent pianist, he refused to play the piano in public, for fear of compromising his career as a composer. His main ambition was to write operas. Two early operas, The Pearl Fishers (1863) and Djamileh (1872) were moderately successful.

In 1872, he composed background music for the play, L'Arlesienne, by Alphonse Daudet. Two orchestral suites drawn from it have become prominent concert pieces. Carmen was completed in 1874 and opened at the Opera Comique in Paris March 3, 1875. The reaction of the audience and critics was cold. Whether there was a connection or not, the composer went into a crisis from which he never recovered. He died three months later of a heart attack at his country home in Bougival, France.
Georges Bizet


  • Carmen
  • Carmen Suite No. 2
  • Carmen Fantasy for Two Pianos
      (arr. Anderson & Roe)