Ferdinando Paer


Born in Parma in 1771 Paer received his first musical instruction from his father Giulio and later studied with the court maestro di cappella Gian Francesco Fortunati. He was a prolific composer, producing at least 55 operas, most of them during the 25-year span from 1791-1816. Paer’s first stage work was Orphée et Euridice on a French text with spoken dialogue and his earliest Italian opera was Circe. In 1797 he moved to Vienna to become musical director of the Kärntnertortheater and began a series of foreign appointments that was to lead him to achieve his greatest success outside Italy. In 1801 he accepted the post of court Kapellmeister in Dresden, where for the court theatre he wrote in successive year three of his most important works: I fuorusciti (1802), Sargino (1803) and Leonora (1804). He later went on to become the director of the Opéra-Comique and later musical director of the Théâtre Italien in Paris, which from 1824-26 he yielded his directorship of the Théâtre Italien to Rossini, who agreed to assume the position only if his older colleague were not displaced. As a person Paer was disliked by many of his contemporaries, yet he won over contemporary audiences with his engaging music. His skill at achieving virtually immediate success in several operatic centres of contracting character – Parma and other Italian cities, Vienna, Dresden and Paris – demonstrates his ability to adapt his style to varying tastes.