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Ibert, Jacques (15 August 1890–5 February 1962)

Composer born Jacques Francois Antoine Marie Ibert from Paris, France, who started playing piano and violin at a very young age and enrolled in the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied under Gabriel Faure, Andre Gedalge, Emile Passard, and Paul Vidal.

World War I interrupted his musical training when he was conscripted into the navy.  When the war was over, he wed Rosette Veber and continued his studies.

In 1919, he was awarded with the Prix de Rome for a cantata entitled Le Poete et la Fee.  It allowed him to further his education in the Italian capital.

One of his earliest successes was “Escales (Ports of Call)”, a musical travelogue was premiered in 1924 by Paul Paray and Orchestre Lamoureux.  In 1927, Angelique, arguably the most successful of his seven operas, hit the stage.  Another enduring orchestral work was his “Divertissement”, cobbled together from his score to The Italian Straw Hat.

He was very prolific during the 1930s, penning chamber and orchestral works, operas and film scores.  Some highlights from this time period:  “Aria for Flute (or Other Instrument) and Piano”; “Cinq pieces en trio for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon”; “Concertino da camera for Alto Saxophone and Eleven Instruments”; “Entracte for Flute (or Violin) and Harp (or Guitar)”; “Flute Concerto”; “Piece for Flute Solo”; “Suite Symphonique”; and, “Troispieces breves for Wind Quintet”.

In the late 1930s, Ibert was named Director of the French Academy at Villa Medici, a post he would hold for more than two decades.

Another war complicated his life and career when the Vichy government proscribed his compositions and he was forced into exile, first in Antibes, then Switzerland.  He was welcomed back with open arms by Charles de Gaulle, who reinstated him as an important part of French culture in 1944.

In 1948, he scored Orson Welles’ film version of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.  He was an adjudicator at the Cannes Film Festival in 1951 and 1954.  Other films that bear his trademark sound include Les cinq gentleman mauditsConflitLe coupableLes DeuxOrphelinesLe heros de la MarneLes petites du quai au fleursDon QuichotteFeuMathias PascalGolgothaInvitation to the DanceJustin de MarseilleMaternite, and S.O.S. Foch.

In 1955, he assumed the directorship of Opera Comique and the Paris Opera, but health issues forced him into early retirement.  He passed away on 5th February 1962, and was interred in Passy Cemetery in Paris, France.

Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux recordings
Bacchanale (Jacques Ibert)
Conductor – Yutaka Sado
(CD:  Jacques Ibert:  Escales; Divertissement; Symphonie marine; Bacchanale; Ouverturede fete)