Daniel Auber

Portrait of Daniel Auber

Daniel Auber was a French composer and director of the Paris Conservatoire. He started writing operas when the family’s fortune hit a rocky patch in 1820. He was born on 29th January 1782 in Caen, France and died in Paris on 12th May 1871 aged 89. 

Major Works

39 operas of which most famous are “Fra Diavolo” (1830)
“Le Cheval de Bronze” (English translation “The Bronze Horse”) (1835)  
“Les Diamants de la Couronne” (English translation “The Crown Diamonds”) (1841)

Biography Timeline

Daniel Auber was born on 29 January 1782 in Caen, Normandy, France. He was the son of Jean-Baptiste Daniel Auber who originally worked in the Royal stables in ParisHis mother was Françoise Adelaïde Esprit, née Vincent. He was allowed to have music lessons as a child and was taught composition by Josef Alois Ladurner. 

1789: The French Revolution breaks out when Auber is seven and his father is forced to leave his job and sets up as a print seller.

1802: Auber is sent to London for training to work in the family business.

1803: Due to the Breach of the Treaty of Amiens between France and Great Britain and therefore the beginning of the Napoleonic wars he is forced to leave England. Once home he is admitted to the Société Académique des Enfants d’Apollon alongside his father. He begins writing the first of five cello concertos.

1808: His cello concerto receives great praise. 

1811: He is encouraged to compose a comic opera “Julie” for a local amateur society. He begins his studies with the composer Luigi Cherubini.

1813: Auber’s one-act opera “Le Séjour Militaire” was a flop and put an end to his composing for the time being.

1820: His father dies and Auber’s inability to make the family business pay makes him turn back to composition. He composes the opera “Le Testament et les Billets-Doux”. This was also badly received by the audience. Undeterred he produces another opera “La Bergere Chatelaine” which this time is a success.

1821: “Emma” receives its premiere.

1822: He joins forces with the librettist Eugene Scribe and they produce the opera “Leicester” together based on Walter Scott’s “Kenilworth”..

1825: His first major success was “Le Macon” which went on to have over five hundred performances at the Opera-Comique in Paris. He is awarded the Legion of Honour.

1828: “La Muette de Portici” was also another triumph.

1829: He is elected as a Member of the Acadamie des Beaux-Arts of L’Institut. He composes “La Fiancée”.

1830: “Fra Diavolo” is given its premiere on 28th January and remains his most successful opera. He is named director of the court concerts. On 25th August his “La Muette” is performed in Brussels and starts a riot which sets off a revolution which eventually drove out the Dutch from the region.

1831: He composes and performs “Le Philtre”. The libretto was later used by Gaetano Donizetti for his famous work “L’Elisir d’Amore”.  

1833: His second grand opera “Gustave the Third” is performed. This libretto was later used by Giuseppe Verdi for “Un Ballo in Maschera”.

1835: “Le Cheval de Bronze” is performed at the Opera-Comique in Paris.

1836: “L’Ambassadrice” is first performed.

1837: “Le Domino Noir” is first performed.

1841: “Les Diamants de la Couronne” is first performed.

1842: He succeeds Luigi Cherubini as Director of the Paris Conservatoire and bans the playing of his pieces at their concerts.

1843: “La Part du Diable” is first performed.

1847: He becomes a Commander of the Legion of Honour. The opera “Haydee” is premiered at the Opera-Comique.

1856: “Manon Lescaut” is premiered.

1857: The Emperor Napoleon the Third makes Auber Imperial Maitre de Chapelle.

1868: Although his output has now slowed down due to teaching work, he has another major success “Le Premier Jour de Bonheur”.

1869: He composes “Reve d’Amour”.

1870: The German army lays siege to Paris. He resigns as Director of the Paris Conservatoire so that the buildings can be used as a hospital.

Daniel Auber died on 12th May 1871 at his home in Rue Saint-Georges, Paris during the period of the Paris Commune. He was buried in the Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Further Information

List of operas by Auber,