Georges Bizet, a French pianist and composer, was born in Paris on October 25, 1838. Bizet was admitted to the Paris Conservatory of Music when he was just 10. His early works include the Symphony in C major, a light and fresh melody. Bizet was awarded the Offenbach prize together with Charles Lecocq. In 1857 he won the prestigious Prix de Rome and moved to the Academy of France in Rome. In Italy he completed his Don Procopio. In 1860 Bizet returned to Paris and his life entered a difficult period. Economic difficulties, a serious health problem and depression assailed the composer. Dissatisfaction and insecurity became distinctive traits of his character.Opera was not particularly popular in the 1860s: Les Pêcheurs des perles (The Pearl Fishers), an 1863 opera inspired by exoticism, was characterized by rhetorical emphasis and pathos. Bizet’s music was considered too similar to that of German composer Wagner. In 1869 he married Geneviève Halévy, with whom he had a son, Jacques.
In 1872, Bizet composed the music for L'Arlésienne, a play by Alphonse Daudet. He was particularly inspired by the text’s dramatic intensity. He also made a suite for Orchestra from the score that proved extremely successful. During the last years of his life he worked on Carmen, an opera based on the novel of the same name written by Prosper Merimée. The première took place on March 3, 1875, in Paris. The show was a flop: the audience didn’t appreciate the lead character, a gypsy woman, and the plot was considered too sensual. Inspired by popular festivals, the music was considered too crude, and many thought the opera’s tragic ending was out of place. Bizet died three months later on June 3, 1875 in Bougival, near Paris. A few months after his death, Carmen was met with enormous success in Vienna.