Godard, Benjamin Louis Paul


Eminent composer; born in Paris; a violin pupil of Richard Hammer. Played in public at nine years of age, later studied under Reber for cornposition and Vieuxtemps for violin, visiting Germany twice with the latter teacher. He was a member of several chamber-music societies in Paris, but devoted most of his time and energy to composition. His first published work was a violin sonata, 1865, and the next, a series of chamber compositions, string quartets, trio, and violin sonatas, won the recognition of the Institut de France, which bestowed on him the Chartier prize. In 1876 his orchestral arrangement of Schumann's miniature piano pieces, Scenes for Children (Kinderscenen), was given at the Concerts du Chatelet, and his Concerto Romantique for violin was played several times in the Concerts Populaires. Other works of this period were another violin concerto, a string quartet, a trio for piano and strings, and a piano concerto, Concerts Populaires, 1878. In this year he tied with Dubois in a competition for first prize offered by the city of Paris, and the winning composition, Tasso. or Le Tasse, a dramatic symphony with solos and chorus, was given at the Concerts du Chatelet. This work virtually established his reputation. Other dramatic compositions are Les Bijoux de Jeanette; Pedro de Zalamea; Jocelyn; Le Dante; Jeanne D'Arc; La Vivandiere, produced posthumously with much success; and two others, Les Guelphes and Ruy Bias, not yet produced. Orchestral compositions are Suite, Scenes Poetiques; Suite, Lanterne Magique; Symphonic-Ballet; Overture dramatic; Symphonic Gothique; Symphonic Qrientale; Symphonic Legendaire, with solos and chorus; lyric scena, Diane et Acteon; over one hundred songs; incidental music to Much Ado About Nothing, and many attractive piano pieces and etudes. He died at Cannes. Godard possessed what has been called "fatal facility" as composer. The majority of his best works were composed before he was thirty; and the succeeding com- positions have not been considered an advance, though his songs and piano pieces are charming and original. His  violin sonatas, some orchestral scenes, and the two symphonies known as the Legendaire and Gothique, are also praised. The berceuse from Jocelyn, one of his later works, has been almost as popular as Mascagni's well-known intermezzo, having been arranged for different instruments, including the piano, violin and organ.