Halevy ,.L Jacqnes Francois Fromental Elie, a French composer, born in Paris, May 27, 1799, died in Nice, March 17, 1862. His parents were Jews, and placed their son under musical instruction at the conservatory at the age of 10. His successive teachers were Cazot, Lambert, Berton, Cherubini, and for a brief period Mehul. By Cherubini, who always remained his friend, he was taught for five years. At 20 he obtained the first prize for composition at the academy of fine arts, entitling him to a pensionary residence of two years at Rome, of which he availed himself. He returned to France in 1822, and for five years besought the managers in vain to produce either his grand opera Pygmalion or his comic opera Les deux pavilions. At last in 1827 his one-act opera L' Artisan was brought out with moderate success at the Theatre Feydeau. In 1829 he had better fortune at the Theatre Italien with his three-act opera Clari, since Malibran assumed the principal role. In 1830 a grand ballet in three acts, Manon Lescaut, the text written by Scribe, was produced. In 1835 La Juive, the opera through which he achieved his widest reputation, was represented at the royal academy of music; and it has since been heard at most of the principal opera houses of the world.
Of his many subsequent operas, some of which obtained a celebrity almost equal to that of La Juice, the principal are: L'Eclair (1835), La reine de Chypre (1841), Charles VI (1843), Les mousquetaires de la reine (1846), Le vol d'Andorre (1848), Le Juif errant (1852), Ja-quarita (1855), and La magicienne (1857). Though Halevy won the esteem of all musicians and considerable popularity, he had not sufficient genius to place himself in the first rank of composers. The impression left by the best of his operas is that they are the work of a man of unquestionable talent, of profound and exact learning, of industry, and of considerable melodic invention, but the music is often elaborate to the point of dulness. He wrote in all more than 30 operas, five or six of which still keep the stage. He was also distinguished as a graceful writer on musical subjects, and wrote Lecons de lecture musicale (1857), adopted as a text book in the schools of Paris; Souvenirs et portraits, etudes sur les beaux-arts (1860); and Derniers souvenirs et portraits (posthumous, 1863). He succeeded Fetis as professor of composition at the conservatory, and perpetual secretary of the academy of fine arts. A pension of 5,000 francs was bestowed upon his widow by the French government.
His biography was written by his brother Leon (F. Halevy, sa vie et ses oeuvres, 1862). II. Leon, a French author, brother of the preceding, born in Paris, Jan. 14, 1802. He left the Charlemagne lyceum with the reputation of a distinguished Greek scholar and poet, and some of his metrical translations from the Greek were published in 1817. He became a disciple of Saint-Simon and one of the founders of Le Producteur, and wrote the introduction to his master's Opinions litteraires, philosophiques et industrielles (1825). From 1831 to 1834 he was adjunct professor of literature at the polytechnic school, and from 1837 to 1857 he was connected with, and for some years chief of, the bureau of historical monuments in the ministry of the interior. His Fables (1843), Fables nouvelles (1855), and La Grece tragique (3 vols., 1845-'61) won prizes from the academy. Among his other works is Resume de l'histoire des Juifs (2 vols., 1827-'8). He also translated " Macbeth," and wrote much for the stage, his tragedies comprising Electre (1864), and Luther, ou la diete de Worms (1865). III. Lodovie, a French dramatist, son of the preceding, born in Paris in 1834. He was employed from 1852 to 1858 in the ministry of state, and till 1861 as chief of bureau in the ministry for Algeria and the colonies.
He is the author of the libretti for the bouffe operas Orphee aux enfers (1861), La belle Helene (1865), Barbe-Bleue (1866), La grande duchesse (1867), La Perichole (1868), Froufrou (1869), and for other operas by Offenbach and various composers. Among his recent productions are the comedy Tricoche et Cacolet (1871), the vaudeville Reveillon (1872), and a collection of equivocal sketches, including Madame et Monsieur Cardinal (1872). His father and other writers have been associated with him in various works.