Adam, Adolphe Charles


Born in Paris. His father was Louis Adam, a French operatic composer, who was also a musician of note but objected to the same tendency in his son. The boy was allowed no musical instruction and his talents along this line were strongly discouraged. His perseverance finally prevailed, however, and he was allowed to enter the Conservatory in 1817, but only on condition of his promising never to write for the stage, a promise which, it is needless to say, was broken later on. He first studied the organ under Benoist, later taking up the harmonium, upon which he became a clever improviser. He also studied counterpoint with Eler and Reicha, but seems to have made little progress until he became a pupil of Boieldieu, at that time professor of composition at the Conservatory. Adam's first work was piano-music of all kinds, including transcriptions and songs. In 1829, he published his first opera, Pierre and Catherine, in one act. This was produced at the Opera Comique and was successful. In 1830 his three act opera Danilow was brought out and was also a success. This was followed by a large number of works, among them the operas, Le Chalet, Le Postilion de Longjumeau, Le Brasseur de Preston, Le Roi d'Yvetot, Cagliostro, and Richard en Palestine; and the ballets, Faust, La Jolie Fille de Gand, and Giselle. Of his operas, Le Postilion de Longjumeau, produced in 1836, was the best and the one which made him famous. This popular opera is often produced in Germany, France and other countries of Europe. In 1847, after a quarrel with the director of the Opera Comique, he started an opera house of his own, but this was not a financial success and after 1848 he again devoted himself to composition, becoming professor of composition at the Conservatory in 1849. Besides operas and ballets and cantatas, Adam composed two masses. Adam's work may be divided into three classes, his grand operas, which were failures; his ballets, which were melodious and beautiful; and his comic operas, in which his talent really lay and which were truly successful. He may, perhaps, be considered the successor and imitator of Boieldieu and Auber. His works were written in a flowing and rhythmical style and contain much humor and melody.