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AUDRAN, EDMOND (1842-1901), French musical composer, was born at Lyons on the 11th of April 1842. He studied music at the École Niedermeyer, where he won the prize for composition in 1859. Two years later he accepted the post of organist of the church of St Joseph at Marseilles. He made his first appearance as a dramatic composer at Marseilles with L’Ours et le Pacha (1862), a musical version of one of Scribe’s vaudevilles. This was followed by La Chercheuse d’Esprit (1864), a comic opera, also produced at Marseilles. Audran wrote a funeral march on the death of Meyerbeer, which was performed with some success, and made various attempts to win fame as a writer of sacred music. He produced a mass (Marseilles, 1873), an oratorio, La Sulamite (Marseilles, 1876), and numerous minor works, but he is known almost entirely as a composer of the lighter forms of opera. His first Parisian success was made with Les Noces d’Olivette (1879), a work which speedily found its way to London and (as Olivette) ran for more than a year at the Strand theatre (1880-1881). Audran’s music has, in fact, met with as much favour in England as in France, and all save a few of his works have been given in a more or less adapted form in London theatres. Besides those already mentioned, the following have been the most undeniably successful of Audran’s many comic operas: Le Grand Mogol (Marseilles, 1876; Paris, 1884; London, as The Grand Mogul, 1884), La Mascotte (Paris, 1880; London, as The Mascotte, 1881), Gillette de Narbonne (Paris, 1882; London, as Gillette, 1883), La Cigale et la Fourmi (Paris, 1886; London, as La Cigale, 1890), Miss Hélyett (Paris, 1890; London, as Miss Decima 1891), La Poupée (Paris, 1896; London, 1897). Audran was one of the best of the successors of Offenbach. He had little of Offenbach’s humour, but his music is distinguished by an elegance and a refinement of manner which lift it above the level of opéra bouffe to the confines of genuine opéra comique. He was a fertile if not a very original melodist, and his orchestration is full of variety, without being obtrusive or vulgar. Many of his operas, La Mascotte in particular, reveal a degree of musicianship which is rarely associated with the ephemeral productions of the lighter stage. He died in Paris on the 16th of August 1901.
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