Meyerbeer, Giacomo

BORN 5 Sep 1791, Vogelsdorf (near Berlin) - DIED 2 May 1864, Paris
REAL NAME Beer, Yaakov Liebmann
GRAVE LOCATION Berlin: Jüdischer Friedhof in Prenzlauer Berg, Schönhauser Allee 23-25 (Feld W1 (Ehrengrab))

Son of the rich sugar refiner Judah Herz Beer and the daughter of a banker from Berlin. The family lived in Berlin and as a child he was already recognized as one the best pianists in the city. He was taught by Muzio Clementi and Abbe Vogler and made friends with Carl Maria von Weber. In 1815 Salieri adviced him to learn voice composition in Italy and using the name Giacomo Meyerbeer he started composing Italian opera's.

Until 1824 he composed six opera's that rivalled even Rossini's and found himself famous. "Il Crociato in Egitto" attracted attention abroad and made him move to Paris. In 1826 he married his first cousin Minna Mosson.

In 1831 his opera "Robert le Diable" was produced. It was very influencial in France. Other French opera's were "Les Huguenots" (1836), "Le Prophète" (1849) and "L'africaine" (1865). In 1842 he became Director of Music in Berlin and there he created the opera "Ein Feldlager de Schliessen".

Meyerbeer was attacked by Wagner in the latter's "Jewry in Music" (1850), who accused him of commercialism in his work. In earlier years he had supported Wagner during the production of his "Rienzi" in Dresden as well as financially, and he never responded to in public to Wagner's attack.

Meyerbeer held on to Jewish religion all his life and was buried at the Jewish Cemetery at the Schönhauser Allee in Berlin after his death in 1864. His opera's were popular for another 50 years.

• Daughter: Meyerbeer, Cornelie

Related persons
• cooperated with Scribe, Eugène
• influenced Wagner, Richard
• was a friend of Weber, Carl Maria von

5/9/1841Caroline Unger leaves the stage in Dresden. She played the part of Antonia in Donizetti's "Belisario". Meyerbeer was in the audience and words were spoken by Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient and Karoline Bauer. [Schröder-Devrient, Wilhelmine][Unger, Caroline]
12/8/1845Beethoven statue in Bonn unveiled. It was created by Ernst Hähnel and unveiled in honour of the 75th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. Franz Liszt was actively involved in the project and donated over 10,000 francs. Schlegel had been the head of the organising committee but he died in May, 1845. Professor Heinrich Breidenstein, who had first expressed the idea, took over his position. The ceremony was attended by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, Hector Berlioz, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Ignaz Moscheles, Charles Hallé, Jenny Lind, Pauline Viardot, Lola Montez, Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn and Maria Kalergis. [Berlioz, Hector][Hallé, Charles][Lind, Jenny][Liszt, Franz][Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix][Montez, Lola][Schumann, Robert Alexander][Viardot-Garcia, Pauline]
16/4/1849Premiere of Meyerbeer's "Le prophète" with Pauline Viardot as Fidès. It was performed by the Opera of Paris at the Salle Le Peletier. Jeanne-Anaïs Castellan was Berthe and Gustave-Hippolyte Roger was Jean. Narcisse Girard was the conductor. In the audience were Chopin, Verdi, Théophile Gautier, Delacroix, Ivan Turgenev and Berlioz. It was a great succes and in July it was performed at Covent Garden in London. [Berlioz, Hector][Chopin, Frédéric François][Delacroix, Eugène][Gautier, Théophile][Verdi, Giuseppe][Viardot-Garcia, Pauline]


The grave of Giacomo Meyerbeer at the Jewish Cemetery, Schönhauser Allee, Berlin.
Picture by Androom (22 Jan 2004)


Encyclopedie van de Muziek, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1959

Meylan, Pedro

Published: 1 Jan 2006
Last update: 4 Jun 2006