David, Felicien Cesar


An eminent French composer, who was born at Cadene, in the south of France. His music is now seldom heard and his name is almost forgotten, but his place in the history of music is marked. " He was rather a tone-painter than a symphonist," says Hervey. He was one of the musicians who rendered the reign of the Citizen King, Louis Philippe, memorable and his music, in his time, was immensely popular. He was the first to introduce a new element into French music, that Orientalism, which since his time has been made use of by so many other composers. He made a sensation with his cantata, Le Desert, by reason of its exotic, Oriental dances. David was a chorister in the Aix Cathedral and was educated at the Jesuit College, of Aix, from 1825 until 1828. He received many honors from his country. Was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, and was pensioned by Napoleon III. in 1860, and nine years later was made a member of the Academy of Fine Arts. He wrote several operas, which were successful, among them La Perle du Bresil, Le Saphir, La Captive, Lalla Roukh, and Herculanum, performed in 1859 for the first time, the same year that saw the first production of Gounod's Faust. His Lalla Roukh had a temporary success, and his string quartets were also held in high esteem during his life-time, but none of them ever attained the success of Le Desert. It has been given in London and the provinces, and will probably outlive any of the composer's works. He also wrote a symphony, Christophe Colomb; songs and piano-music.