ML 410.B18B27""'"''"' """'^
^^''miniiMiiliiiS'il.'i'i.iyifHS'.PY W™- Alexander
3 1924 021 747 781
The original of tliis book is in
tine Cornell University Library.
There are no known copyright restrictions in
the United States on the use of the text.
B A L F E
W'lH life Mh moxl.
WM. ALEXANDER BARRETT.
W/Tir POSTR.ilT OF TIALFE AND OTHER ILLUSTRATIONS.
Let the breath of renown ever freshen and nourish
The laurel which o'er her dead favourite bends ;
O'er me wave the willow, and long may it flourish,
Bedew'd with the tears of wife, children, and friends.
The Hon. R. W. Spencer.
REMINGTON AND CO.
New Bond Street, W.
[All Rights Reserved.^
TO BALFE S BEST FRIEND,
THE BRITISH PUBLIC,
THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE DEDICATED BY
IT. 1808-1823 ...
III. 1823-1825 ...
IV. 1825-1826 ...
VIII. 1833-1835 ...
IX. 1836-1838 ...
X. 1838-1841 ...
XII. 1841-1843 ...
V. 1826-1827 54
VII. 1830-1832 7g
XIII. 1843 148
XVII. 1852-1858 215
XVIII. 1858-1865 233
XIX. 1865-1870 253
XX. 1870-1876 271
XXI. 1876-1882 284
Balfe ... ... ... ... ... Frontispiece
Maliuuan Page 111
Giiisi „ 123
NiLSSON „ 260
Portion of Memokial Window, St. Patkick's
Cathedual, Dublin , 286
Tablet in WnsiMiNSTEii, Aubkv ... „ 293
B A L F E
The condition of musical art, like the position of
musical professors in this country at the beginning
of the present centurj was in no way hopeful.
The best native musicians were compelled to
struggle and to labour in the face of adversity and
almost of contumely. " Fiddler's pay " was a pro-
verb the application of which in those days was more
personal, forcible, and pertinent than it is now.
" Only a fiddler," was a contemptuous expression
in common use among those who emulated the
hollow refinement of Lord Chesterfield. Genius
was existent, but it had no great market value. The
ablest musicians were expected to perform tasks
which the meanest practitioner in the art ought
scarcely to have been called upon to do. The
brightest and most talented musician of his day
Henry Rowley Bishop, was chiefly employed to
furnish music to aid the effect of certain dramatic
situations in the theatre. He wrote music for
Melodramas but not a single Opera. His music
was to he subordinate to the acting. Such, how-
ever, was the impression his beautiful melodies
and his fanciful orchestration made upon the
public mind, that the original condition of things
became reversed, and several dramas for which he
had been engaged to furnish " a few tunes " be-
came attractive less for the acting or for the
spectacle they may have afforded, than for his
lausic, much of which lives to the present time,
though the dramas themselves have completely
perished. The success he achieved did not rouse
men's minds to the importance of the musical art,
nor did it suggest the development of native talent
in this direction. The musician had no status in.
the world, no privileges of society. However great
his abilities and how often soever their exercise
was sought for, his personal character was
estimated according to the accepted views con-
cerning his class, and tasks derogatory to the
dignity of art and distressing to the artist were
often imposed upon him. When he was suffered
to appear in the saloons of the great and mighty,
•a silken rope was drawa across a portion of the
room in which he was to perform, to mark the
boundary of his situation, and the estimation in
which he was held personally, and in the intervals
of the exercise of his refining art, he was " thrust
aside to herd with flunkies, who copying their
betters, added to the humiliations already heaped
-upon him, by a supercilious contempt."
In public entertainments native masic and
musicians were treated with a like disregard. On
the stage it was considered necessary to have
music, more out of respect for traditional use than
for any. high value set upon its assistance. When
a composer was required to furnish music to aug-
ment certain situations, the number of seconds he
was to fill up was duly prescribed, and if the
composer was able to overcome the scruples of his
manager, and to gain indulgence for a song or
other vocal piece which should occupy a little
longer than the time originally set out, there was
the chilling and terrible ordeal of public judgment
.to suffer. Mr. Planche in his EecoUections speak-
ing of these things so late as the year 1823, says :
" Ballads, duets, choruses, and glees, provided that
they occupied no more than the fewest number of
minutes possible, were all that the play-going
public of the day would endure. A dramatic
situation in music was ' Caviare to the Greneral,'
and inevitably received with cries of 'Cut it short ! '
from the gallery, and obstinate coughing and other
significant signs of impatience from the pit."
It is not possible to believe that the public were
good judges in the matter, and exhibited im-
patience not at the music as such, but because they
had not been taught to believe in the importance
of music as intensifying dramatic art. There were
no English schools of music, no opportunities for
acquiring improvement in the exercise or increasing
the estimation of art available for the people. The
nation had for a long period been engaged in
undertakings which do not tend to the promotion
of the peaceful arts. It had retained through all,
its old love for mnsic, but limited its expression to
utterances of a robust character. The refinements
of music were chiefly appreciated and cultivated
by those who by circumstances were kept protected
from the influences wMeli swayed the less for-
tunate. The thoughts and actions of the people
were moulded after a pattern set by passing
Poetry in the truest sense of the word was best
understood when it was presented in a form suited
to the demands of the time, and in a language that
permitted of no ambiguity or misunderstanding.
What was called " sentiment " supplied the place
of deep reflective expression. An exaggerated idea
of the so-called manly qualities checked, if it
■did not actually forbid the indulgence in the weak-
ness of being moved by tenderness. The heart
might be touched, but the tongue must not admit
On the stage where so many causes of excite-
ment were sought for and encouraged, the addi-
tional claims of music, its power of stirring up the
secret feelings of the soul and influencing men
they knew not why, were freely acknowledged, but
not wholly admitted.
The statement made by Mr. Planch6 and re-
ferred to above certainly tells the facts, but makes
no attempt to account for them. The people were
ashamed to admit the sway of music at such times
when they expected to be excited by other
emotions. They did not dislike sweet sounds, be-
cause there are proofs of the enthusiasm with
which many of the ballads and songs of the time
were welcomed when they had the ring in them
which was admitted to be true. One of these
proofs may be found in the existence of the
songs themselves in the present day. On the
other hand, the advantage of a good introduc-
tion would not force favour. Numbers of ditties
which are known to have been frequently sung,
by the references to them in the newspapers,
and by their constant appearance in collections
of words of songs sung at Vauxhall and else-
where, have perished. They ministered too
slavishly to the estimate formed of existing
taste, and as taste is ever changing, they became
old-fashioned long before the ideas to which
they conformed had passed out of the public mind.
Things destined to live must be contrived to
be in seeming conformity to passing fancy, and
yet calculated to elevate it. This is the secret
of the effect of all works of genius, and this.
was particularly the cause of the cumulating
popularity of the music of Michael William Balfey
the subject of the present work.
To pursue the course of this prologue, and to
show the condition of the musical inheritance
Balfe was destined to augment and to improve,
it is necessary to say a few words more upon the
subject of music at the beginning of the present
century in this kingdom.
The people had not wholly cleared their minds of
prejudice against the foreigner, and it was only
the enlightened few who knew the works of the-
great geniuses living and working abroad. Handel,
for all that he had lived the greater part of his
life in England, and had written and produced all
his best works in this country, was little known to
the masses. Haydn was alive, but " old and
weak," Mozart had only been laid in his unknown
pauper's grave some dozen years, but to the people-
of England all these great men were for the most-
part only names, if so much.
The best of the English musicians then living
contented themselves with the simplest efforts..
Horsley, Callcott, Webbe, Battishill, and others-
confined their genius to the production of songs
and glees. In this last-mentioned department,
however, they left to posterity master works of a
quality which have heen imitated, but never sur-
passed, by their successors.
If it be true, as is often stated, that Ecclesiastical
music is the inheritance of the preceding genera-
tion, the Cathedrals, Churches, and other " choirs
and places where they sang," ought to have been,
rich. But like most legatees they were discon-
tented with the old-fashioned forms of the things
bequeathed to them, and cast them aside as lumber
in favour of things newer and suited to the ephe-
meral character of modern taste.
English composers did not care to devote their
time to the filling in of a gap caused by a long
period of careless inattention and neglect, to the
enrichment of an institution which exhibited no
interest in, and ofEei'ed no encouragement for,
their productions. The gap was, however,
lessened by the labours of those who, if they
could not make, could meddle with. Adaptations
from all sorts of foreign writers, from alL sorts of
works, secular or sacred originally,' were fitted to
words from tlie Bible or tlie Prayer Book, or even
from the edifying inspirations of Tate and Brady,
and were higUy appreciated by the authorities.
The apathy of the clei'ical functionaries was for
the most part compensated by the interest of their
women-folk, to whose care church music was
relegated. Church musicians in those days
attached little importance to their offices. In a
worthy following of the example shown by their
rulers, the Singing-men held several appointments,
and compliant Deans and Chapters arranged the
hours of their services in their Churches to accom-
modate the members of their Choirs. Well-known
as they were as Cathedral singers, they were better
known as tavern vocalists, ever ready to assist the
cause of good-fellowship by the excellence of their
efforts. Music and convivialit.y went frequently
hand in hand. The musicians suffered from the
conviviality, and the conviviality damaged the
character of music.
This one degrading influence of the age was
felt by musicians as by other members of society.
When several of the professors of music united
io keep alive some of the best traditions of their
art, and formed clubs or associations for the prac-
tice of Madrigals, Glees, Catches, and even Songs,
the dinner and the allowance of wine was the first
consideration of the evening's entertainment.
More than one of these associations still exist,,
but the opportunities for indulgence in the neces-
sary luxuries of this sort of life are viewed now
as of less importance than the more refined and
refining pleasures of music.
The musicians of the past were wise in the fore-
sight in these matters ; they did not, could not,
disregard the customs of the time, but their con-
fidence in the elevating charm of their art was not
ill-founded, as the present generation recognises
with the pleasure which comes of possession. For
all this, the condition of music was not hopeful.-
It was to a certain extent a monopoly. Its best
efforts were reserved for the upper ranks of society,
and exercised under restrictions which were irk-
some to the majority, and distinctly with a view
to the preservation of its charms for the delecta-
tion of the favoured few.
When musicians themselves formed a society for-
the cultivation of their own musical knowledge-
without tlie customary banquet, a society wMch
they happily called the "Philharmonic," they
followed the course which was nearest to their own
experience, and made such ^conditions of member-
ship as would have been instituted had things been
reversed, and the amateurs had invited the mu-
sicians to join their ranks.
The general public, always known to be music-
loving, were not considered in the arrangements.
'No one thought of educating the people by giving'
them the means of educating themselves. Even
for those who intended to adopt music as a profes-
sion there was no institution in which they could
be systematically taught.
Musicians lived a sort of moral hand-to-mouth
existence, and picked up encouragement and re-
cognition in the same way as they had for the most
part picked up their education.
It was a dark hour for native art, and although
a few stars shone faintly in the musical firma-
ment, their light only served to show the intensity
of the surrounding blackness.
It was the dark hour before the dawn. Music
was soon to be recognised ; its artists were to be-
considered as wortliy to be admitted into the
highest social ranks. Eew knew this, however^
though many hoped for it. None imagined that
"the star which was to be the herald of the dawn
was to be the son of a poor fiddler in the city of
Genius is said to have no ancestors. The posses-
sor of genitis not infrequently inherits some por-
tion of his peculiar gifts. In his predecessors-
these never arose beyond the digaity of talent ;
in himself they become intensified and developed
Michael William Balfe came of a family asso-
ciated with the stage and with music as a pro-
fession through a long course of years. His
grandfather was a member of the orchestra at
Crow Street Theatre in Dublin, and there is a
tradition — diflftcult now to verify — that his great-
grandfather was a pupil of the famous Matthew
Dubourg, and one of the membars of the noble
band who played in the two first performances
of "The Messiah" in Dublin in 1742. Balfe's
father — bom in 1783 — was an excellent theoretical
musician, and a very good violin-player. He mar-
ried Kate Eyan, a lady remarkable for the beauty
-and grace of lier person, and the austerity of her
religions observances. Michael William, their
third child and only son, was born on the 15th
May, 1808, while the family occupied a respect-
.able house in a quiet thoroughfare, No. 10, Pitt
Street, Dublin, part of a row of houses just newly
biiilt, and called after the name of the " heaven-
born minister" then recently deceased.
Balf e's father was a Protestant, and his mother
was a Catholic. In accordance with the custom
observed with regard to " mixed marriages," as
such unions were called, the male children were
brought up in the religion of their father and the
females in the faith of their mother. Michael Wil-
liam was baptized in the parish church of St. Ann,
in Dawson Street, Dublin, and was educated in the
belief taught by the Church into which he had
been admitted. His sisters learned the creeds of
the Church of Eome, and ib is a somewhat singular
fact that they, like all the women of the Balfe
family, married Protestants. The males selected
Catholics as their partners in life.
Not only was the moral training of the bright
.and happy child superintended by his father, but
"wlien it was discovered that there were unmistak-
able signs of a predilection for music in the in-
fant, he also imparted to him early lessons in the
a,rt in which he was destined to become famous
throughout the world, and bj the exercise of which
he was to make his own name honourable, and to
■elevate the profession to which he belonged.
His father taught him the violin and the piano-
forte, and the quickness with which he seized an
idea — one of his most strongly marked charac-
teristics as a man — was exhibited in his very in-
fancy. So soon as he had mastered the use of the
bow, and his pliant fingers could stop the strings
of the tiny fiddle upon which he practised, he
began to imitate the playing of the more promi-
nent of the street performers, whose execution
afforded him delighb and his friends amusement.
About the year 1814 Logier gave some lectures
in Dublin explanatory of his system of teaching
music, and took some children who had never be-
-fore known anything of music and demonstrated
the value of his method upon them. He proved
how readily the art could be acquired when
taught properly, and many of the teachers of
music in Dublin began to work upon bis plans.
Jt is not known wbetber young Balfe was one of
tbe " clever cbildren " selected for the experiment,
but it is certain that he was working hard at the
rudiments of pianoforte-playing at the time.
There is a story told of him by some of his surviv-
ing relatives which sets the character of the young
genius forcibly bafore the mind. He had recently
heard an orchestral band perform Haydn's "Sur-
prise Symphony," and his lively imagination exag-
gerated the crash which Haydn introduced upon
the half-close of the first movement to make, as it
is said, "the ladies jamp." A simple arrange-
ment of the theme was one of the pianoforte
lessons he had to practise. His mother and sis-
ters were engaged elsewhere in the house, wheu
suddenly they heard a fearful crash, and as the
mother thought the screams of her child. In ter-
rified haste they rushed into the room in which he
had been at work, expecting to find the place in
ruins and the boy a corpse. The mother's fright
yielded to surprise, her surprise to anger, as she
saw the child dancing and crowing with delight.
In order to make the " grand crash " at the proper
point of the music he had piled the fender and
fire-irons upon a chair, and had fastened a cord to
them all in such a manner as to make them fall
with a clatter^ and so realize Haydn's design most
It may have been in consequence of this or
other like events that the elder Balfe recognised
the necessity of confiding the musical education of
his boy to other hands. His first engaged master
was William O'Rourke, or, as he was afterwards
called, Rooke, a clever musician, who did all that
he could to develop the unquestionable musical
talent of the boy. It is certain that this was a
wise step, for the father, never very strong in
health, could not but feel that he might be called
away at any time, and his gifted child's talents never
be properly cultivated. He had been compelled
to remove to Wexford for the benefit of his health,
but he brought the boy back to Dublin and placed
him as a pupil with O'Eourke, under whose care he
made rapid progress.
He had received a great amount of encourage-
m.ent from the leader of a regimental band
whose name was Meadows. This worthy man
had noted the earnest attention with which the
boy watched the performance of his band and
followed it about, and he took the trouble to ex-
plain to him the construction and compass of the
several instruments employed. In gratitude for
his instructor, and as proof that it was not alto-
gether thrown away, young Balfe composed a
Pdlacca which he scored for the band. It was
performed exactly as it was written, and. so excel-
lent] was it in melody and harmony, and so accu-
rately arranged, that the men who played it could
with difficulty be brought to believe that it was
the unassisted work of a child not yet seven years
old. The score of this Polacca exists to this day.
O'Rourke brought the boy on rapidly in his work.
In less than a year — in May, 1816 — he made his
first public appearance at the Eoyal Exchange as
a solo-violinist, playing a concerto by Mayseder.
On the 20th June, 1817, young Balfe played
with Mr. James Barton a " duo con certante" upon
the occasion of Barton's benefit, and although
there was no account of the performance in the
papers on the following day, there was an adver-
tisement inserted in " Saunders' News-letter " of
52nd June, 1817, by H. Willman (bugle player),
of a concert he proposed to give, which contains
these words — " after which (by most particular
desire, and positively for that night only) that won-
derful child Master Balfi, only seven years old,
pupil of Mr. William O'Rourke, will perform a
concerto on the violin in which he will introduce
the popular air of the Minstrel Boy, and a Eondo
composed expressly for this occasion by Mr.
The age was not quite correctly given, but it
may have been considered more attractive to the
public. The skill of the boy would be considered
io be more remarkable if he were stated to be
younger than he actually was.
The delight with which the genius of the child
was welcomed by an impressionable people may be
well imagined. He was loaded with presents.
Some of these were suited to his age, and others
were offered which testified more conclusively to
the goodwill rather than to the good taste of the
The gift from Sir William Crampton, the
father of his future son-in-law, of a chaise and a
pair of live goats, trained to draw and to be obe-
dient to the rein, was one in whicb the child took
great pride in. He drove it in triumph through the
streets, and only relinquished it when it was found
that he neglected his studies to indulge in an
exercise which pleased him, and enabled him to
offer to others a share in his pleasures.
He was kind-hearted and generous even in those
early days. He was also just and fair and honest
to a fault. Carried away by the success won in
his childhood he sought to minister to the plea-
sures of the troops of small friends prosperity
had brought around him. His pocket-money
was either shared with them or else expended
in those small luxuries dear to the juvenile
taste. When money was for a time not to be
commanded, his credit was good, and the expected
small treats were generally provided.
After an absence of many years when he re-
turned to Dublin, he was walking down the street
in which his father died, Hamilton Eow, the
sight of the scene of former pleasures brought
with it a present pain, for he saw through a
certain shop window, the old woman who had
frequently trusted him in days gone by. The
sight reminded him of the fact that he owed
the old soul a few shillings he had forgotten to
pay. He went in and said to the woman,
"Do you remember a young vagabond called
3alfe who went away many years ago in your
-debt ? " "I remember young Balfe," the
woman said, " he was not a vagabond, nor do I
mind me that he owed me anything. If he did
he was welcome to it, ,for he was a fine open-
hearted, generous lad." " I am that young
,scamp," said Balfe, " and I have owed you that
money all these years, and I've now come to pay
it with interest." The old woman took the
sovereign Balfe offered her, and said that
" although she did not recognise her boyish
customer in the smart-looking gentleman who
stood before her, his liberal payment of an old
and forgotten debt, was to her a proof that he
could be no other than the happy, handsome,
spirited boy she had known, grown into a pleasant-
spoken kindly gentleman."
Although this story is in some sort a digression,
jits appearance in this place is justified by the fact
that it exhibits a phase of character, very necessary
for the information of those who love to trace the
growth of those qualities in the child which they
admire in the man.
Eeference has been made to the gifts offered to
the child in recognition of his precocious talents.
The manner in which he used these gifts exhibits
his character in an interesting light. The story
of the boat which one of his admirers caused to be
built for him upon lines suitable to his age and
weight, showed the pluck and strength of purpose
which in after-life sustained him through many a
severe trial. His father had taken lodgings at the
village of Crumlin, a short distance from Dublin,
and on one day when he expected his boy to-
breakfast was surpi-ised and alarmed because he
did not keep his appointment. An hour or so
after the breakfast had been removed the boy ap-
peared, bravely carrying his boat after him on the-
road. He had rowed himself along the canal,
had lifted his craft over every lock, and now
brought it to his father's house for safety, not
caring to leave it where his eye could not keep
watch over it. The energy thus displayed was:
extended to his studies. After playing for Mr.
James Barton he became his pupil, and what with
the instructions of his father, O'Rourke, his
additional master, and the friendly Meadows, he
managed to make acquaintance with the
characteristic qualities of all the instruments in
use both in the Orchestra and in the Military
Band. He was wonderfully quick in his studies,
and like most quick children was wont to prefer a
game of play to the steady exercise of acquiring
musical knowledge. Soon after Mr. Barton began
to give the boy lessons, his old master O'Rourke
left Dublin, and the new master knowing perhaps
something of the child's impulsive character, im-
pressed upon his parents the necessity of assiduous
practice. This the father ensured by locking the
boy up in the parlour of the house he had removed
to in Hamilton Eow, No. 3. When the child
sighing for liberty would perhaps pensively cease
to " run his scales " and go through his exercises
his father noting the silence, would strike the
floor above, and the boy answering the signal,
would resume his studies. He was with James
Barton, as a pupil, two years, and was followed by
a boy, also bright and clever, R. M. Levey, whose
friendship made at that time continued throughout
Young Balfe had now possessed so much skill
that he was able to earn a little money by the
exercise of his profession. He played solos at the
public concerts in Dublin and elsewhere, and was
distinguished not only for the facility of his
execution but also for the grace and expression of
One day a stranger called at his mother's house
and announced himself to be a friend of her uncle
McNally, sent to inquire after his existing relations,
with the intention of leaving to them the large
fortune he had amassed. All who claimed kinship
made themselves particularly agreeable to the
ambassador, probably with the design of inducing
him to carry a favourable report of their be-
haviour to the rich uncle.
James McNally was related to Leonard McNally,
the author of the words of the song " The Lass of
Richmond Hill." James started in life as a
musician, and left the profession and went to the
West Indies, where he acquired a large fortune.
He was related to Balfe on his mother's side.
Leonard McNally was a member of the Irish bar,
and wrote the libretto of an opera " Eobin Hood "
to which Shield set the greater part of the music.
It was produced at Covent Garden Theatre on the
17th March, 1784, and met with much success.
One of the songs, " As bums the charger " is still
a favourite with bass vocalists.
Young Michael William alone unmoved by
mercenary considerations, was the favourite of
"■ Mr. McNally's friend." He listened with wonder
to the stories told of the adventures in the solitary
waste, but cared little for the gently insinuated
tales of the wealth accumulated by so much hard
work, and of the prospect that Mr. MciNally might
be induced to leave aU to the clever little boy. " I
■don't care for his money, but if he is so lonely
there in the plantations I should like to go and stay
with him, and learn to shoot and hunt the wild
creatures, and when we were tired of that, to come
home and to cheer him up in the long evenings
with a tune or two on my fiddle. It's so hard for
A man to be away from all his friends and relations
in a foreign land."
McNally, for he was his own ambassador, was
touched, and when he returned to his home he
made a request that the boy should be sent out to-
him that he might welcome him as his adopted,
son. By this time Balfe had determined to devote
himself to the art he loved so earnestly, and he
therefore declined the tempting offer. Had he
decided to accept it, the event which occurred at
that time would have changed his resolution. His
father lay at the point of death.
William Balfe was never a strong man, but
neither Ms friends nor his relatives, least of all
himself, had any idea that his end was so near.
His mind was well balanced, and he could regard
the approach of death with the calmness of a good
conscience. He sent for his son and gave him
advice as to the method he should pursue in his
career through life. This counsel had double
value to the boy, inasmuch as it came from the
lips of one whom he had always tenderly loved,
and although he was unable to realize the full
force of the words at the time, a vague feeling of
dread of h.e knew not what, sharpened his memory
and impressed the scene upon his mind with vivid
"Wlien his father was dead, the circumstance-
acquired a new meaning. The boy remembering
every word his parent had said, formed a resolu-
tion such as might have been expected from one
who had already shown a marked firmness of
character. While his father could work the family
had lived comfortably, now he was gone their
prospects were not encouraging. Only forty years
old when he passed away, William Balfe had not
been able to make much provision for the family,
and when the small estate was realized, the pros-
pect was one of sorrow and gloom. Our young
hero, scarcely fifteen, determined to be no longer
a burden upon his mother. He cast about in his
mind for the means to support himself and also
if possible to add a little to the straitened means
of his mother and sisters. His father had not
been laid in the grave for more than a few hours,
and his excited imagination invested the house in
which his first grief was experienced with indefin-
able terrors. He trembled to remain in a place
where such a heavy grief had fallen on him, and
nothing would induce him to enter the room in
which the body had been laid. Tears after, when
he revisited Dublin, and went to see the house
with his niece " Bonny Gonn," the old dread re-
vived, and although he entered all the other rooms
he could not overcome the fear which fell upon
him as he passed the door of that one room he
dared not enter.
His soul as -well as his body was wrapped in
mourning for his deceased parent. He wandered
in the twilight that evening to commune with his
o>vn thoughts away from the scenes which sug-
gested only one painful train of reasoning.
He had a hope of probable success in his native
Dublin, and might have earned a decent living
by taking such work as would ofEer itself. But
Dublin was familiarly associated with scenes and
events that brought only saddened memories now
to the orphan boy. If he had been permitted to
accept his uncle McNally's offer, he might be
rich, and could do something for his mother.
Would he were away from Dublin. All the sights
and sounds in the city brought only pain, the more
keen in proportion as at one time they had been
the source of pleasure.
Here was the theatre within whose walls he had
been witness of, and had also ministered to the en-
joyment of his fellow-citizens. On the walls were
the bills announcing this night to be the last ap-
pearance of Miss Stephens and Mr. Charles Edward
Horn affcertheir twelve nights' engagement previous
to their departure for England. By an impulse he
cared not to control he determined to say farewell
to the man who a few days before had heard him
play, and had praised a song " Young Fanny, the
beautiful maid," he had written before he was
niae years old. The memory of kindness was dear
to the weai'ied little heart at that moment. He
might never see his friend again, and at the least
he would seek the pleasure of saying farewell. He
sent his name up, and was soon admitted to the
presence of the singer, who welcomed him and
spoke a few words of commiseration concerning
his recent loss.
Yielding to an impulse similar to that which
had induced him to enter the theatre, young Balfe
asked Horn to take him with him to England on
the morrow. He earnestly desired to try his
fortune in London. His father's death had left
his mother very poor, he had no wish to weaken
her slender means. He was anxious to- qualify
himself to earn his own bread, and was willing to
do anything which should further this project.
Such an appeal fell upon the ears of the listener
with surprise, but it was favourably received.
Moved by pity for his misfortunes, and by admira-
tion for his genius, he comforted tbe boy by con-
senting to take him, provided that his mother
would agree to the arrangement. The mother
was at first loath to part with her child, but she
felt pleased and flattered at the offer made. She
foresaw in it, the opening of a career which might
prove of the greatest benefit to him. So with
many tears she agreed to let him go, and early the
next morning gave up her boy, sorrowfully assent-
ing to an action which made a wider vpid in her
Two hours later the mother and child parted,
each smothering their emotions, and hiding from
each other the pangs which tore their hearts.
With a forced gaiety the boy promised his mother
to work hard and become a great man if industry
could accomplish such a task. The mother proud
of the fortitude of her child and echoing his hope-
ful predictions, left him after commending him to
the care of the heavenly Father who is the pro-
tector of the orphan and the widow.
His arrangement with Horn was that for seven
years he was to continue as his pupil, and to hand
over all the money he earned, and to receive in
return a series of lessons, and a certain percentage
of the fees he gained. Young Balfe soon found
that his master had exerted these conditions more
as a proof of the earnestness of his intention, than
from any expectation or desire of mating a profit
out of his genius. Horn's engagements became
numerous, and his occupations absorbing, but still
he kept his share of the bargain well and nobly.
If he had no time to devote to the education of
his young charge himself, he found the means of
advancing his studies. Under his own direction
Balfe learned to score for a band with facility and
accuracy. Prom his father Karl Friedrich Horn,
who was at that time organist of St. George's
Chapel, Windsor, he acquired a familiarity with
the subtleties of counterpoint and thorough-bass.
He also learned to play the master works of
John Sebastian Bach, of whose " Wohl-temperirte
Clavier," Horn had in conjunction with the elder
Samuel Wesley published an edition in London
some dozen years before. Thus his education re-
ceived an additional scientific impulse. Soon after
Balfe arrived in London at the end of the month
of January, 1823, he was offered an engagement,
through Horn, to play at the Oratorio Concerts at
Drury Lane Theatre. Mori was the leader. Sir
George Smart the conductor. Though quite a boy
he possessed a steadiness and gravity in his busi-
ness far beyond his years. As he was then, so he
was all through life ; full of gaiety and ever ready
for fan, but when he had to work, his whole soul
was absorbed. He was another being. He worked
hard at the lessons set by Horn. He strove by all
means to improve himself, even entering his name
as a student at the recently founded Eoyal Academy
of Music. In the theatre he was punctual and
obliging, and the amount of knowledge he dis-
played' strengthened the good impression his re-
putation had made upon his brethren of the
orchestra. His behaviour at his duties so far
inspired confidence that he was appointed to play
on alternate nights a violin solo, the famous
Mori taking the other nights. Mori also occa-
sionally resigned the leadership of the band to the
boy, knowing that his lead would be loyally
followed, and that the boy's intelligence would not
fail him in the right reading of the music. Out
of the theatre and free from his tasks he was as
light-hearted as ever, but in the orchestra he was
as steady as a rock. His attentiveness was a
pattern to his elders, and the gaiety of his dis-
position their admiration and delight.
One evening towards the winter when his
services were not required elsewhere, he went
into the gallery of the Haymarket Theatre at
which the comedy of "Paul Pry" produced 13th
September, 1823, was then running prosperously,
with Madame Vestris in the part of "Phoebe.^'
His master's song " Cherry Eipe " was the attrac-
tion for him. To his astonishment he heard also
his own ballad " Young Fanny " announced in
the bills with now different words " The Lover's
Mistake," by T. Haynes Bayly. Intoxicated with
the applause with which the song was welcomed,
he told the people who were sitting near him that
he was the composer. To his indignation and
chagrin he was called " lying young braggart "
for his pains. He was mistaken in thinking that
wliit he knew to be the truth others would believe
without evidence to support his statement.
The song became so popular that Willis the
publisher, who had contented himself with pre-
senting the composer with twenty copies, made a
large sum of money out of it. The words were
printed in every song-book published at the time,
and the first number of the third volume of the
famous series called the " Universal Songster "
issued so late as 1823^ was sent forth with the
" Lover's Mistake," with an illustration by George
Cruickshank. The song was probably given by
Horn as a curiosity to Madame Vestris. Though
written more than sixty years ago it is remarkable
for that freshness of melody which always dis-
tinguished Balfe's compositions.
In after-years when his work had brought him
fame and profit, it is said that he was wont to kiss
the scores of his operas with all the affection that
a father salutes his loved offspring. He was
j)roperly proud of his w.)rk, but he was never
conceited. Perhaps the experience he had earned
in the gallery of the Haymarket Theatre, which.
must have fallen with burning bitterness upon a
soTil so sensitive as his, may have taught him a
lesson the effects of which never left him. If any-
one had reason to be self-opiniated because of
success it was our Balfe. His career was one
of prosperity from the outset. But great men
are generally modest, and Balfe was a great man.
The Oratorio Concerts at which Balfe played
generally lasted through the season of Lent. De-
spite their title they did not necessarily consist of
whole oratorios so much as of selections from such
works, and of other items chosen to please the-
varied and improved taste of the public of the-
time. When the term of his first engagement ex-
pired, Balfe was invited to become a regular
member of the orchestra of Drury Lane theatre
then under the direction of the famous Tom
Cooke, an Irishman, a wit, and a very clever
performer. His name is remembered among
musicians by a number of amusing stories told
of his readiness at repartee, his practical jokes,,
his kind heart, and great abilities. His glees,
duets, and songs which have reached posterity
prove the last fact conclusively. As a musician.
his chief fault seems to have been the readiness
"with which he tampered with the master works
'-of the great composers when he was called upon
to place them on the stage. It was his mis-
fortune to have had to do this in conformity
with the fashion of the time. Eespect to a com-
poser's design was not always paid unless he had
accommodated his work to popular taste. Eossini,
Weber, Beethoven, Mozart, Handel and others
were all " improved " by him, so that even when
works under his direction were announced, written
by either of those composers, the public was not
5ure, as he was wont to say, that they hadn't been
" Cooked." The ignorance of the public and their
indifference, together with the cupidity of the
stage managers of the period justified to a certain
extent the misuse of the talents of a truly fine
Cooke was a master-conductor, who could play
on every instrument in the orchestra. He per-
formed solos on nine different instruments on the
occasion of one of his Benefits. He was also a
sharp and observant man of the world, and knew
the depth and measure of th.e ability of every
player in his orchestra. He soon found the value
of young Balfe's talents, and taking advantage of
the boy's punctuality and attention to his work,,
occasionally absented himself from his postj leaving
word for young Balfe to take his place as director.
In those days the conductor directed with his bow,
and enforced the emphasis of certain passages by
a vigorous lead on his violin. The spectacle of a
boy in a jacket and turn-down collar ruling with
spirit and energy a body of musicians his superiors
in age^ whose brightening eyes and earnest atten-
tion spoke of the confidence in, and the admiration
for, their young general must have been a remark-
able one even in those days.
At the close of the season of Oratorio Concerts
in 1824, the orchestra of Drury Lane was engaged
for a series of performances ata Vuxhall Gardens,.
then one of the most favoured places of resort out
of the metropolis ; the elder Mr. Gye then was
lessee. Balfe was included in the list of the
members of the band. Means of locomotion were
scarce and expensive, and as the Gardens were
kept open to a very late hour, which rendered it
inconvenient, if not dangerous to return home to-
London on foot through the streets, the members of
the band were accustomed to hire lodgings close to
their work for the time of their engagement. Balfe
had neglected this duty until the last moment and
then was sorely troubled to find accommodation.
AU the places were full, and at last he presented
himself at a shabby-looking dwelling, the doubt-
ful character of which was augmented in his mind
by the strange hesitation of the mistress of the
house. She had a room, but it would not be ready
untU to-morrow. Not liking the prospect of having
to roam the streets all night, Balfe determined to
take the lodging as it was, even if he was to be
consigned to the haunted chamber, for such he
believed was the character of the room that the
confused landlady intended him to occupy. Tlie
fatigue he felt overcame all superstitious scruples,
there were no associations in his mind connected
with the place, and he dreaded nothing. He had
a quiet conscience, and he felt he could sleep
through thunder. He slept soundly. In the morn-
ing he found the room clean and tidy, and laughed
at his own fears, and wondered at the strange be-
haviour of the woman of the house. In surveying
the room he opened a cupboard door and there saw
the corpse of an old woman which had been hastily
placed there. She had died the day previously,
had been laid out upon the bed he had occupied,
and so the cause of the uneasiness of the landlady
when he insisted upon occupying the chamber was
fully apparent. The shock he experienced revived
the memory of a scene which was never to be
blotted from his mind. Notwithstanding the
fright he had experienced, he showed no sign of
the eflfect of his adventure to his companions.
Tears after he was wont to tell the story as an
instance of the old woman^s eye to business, but
he never afterwards slept in a strange room with-
out examining every corner.
Balfe was a morally brave man, and could en-
dure trials with a resolution only possessed by the
firmest minds. He was not superstitious, but he
shrank from anything that reminded him of the
terrible grief he suffered when he lost his father.
In company with Edward Fitzball, the dramatist
and poet, he once paid a visit to Dr. Stavely King
to consult him about the bronchial affection from
which he suffered. There was a skeleton in the
•surgery, and Fitzball, in a playful spirit, placed
Balfe's hat upon the skull. No one laughed more
heartily at the joke than Balfe himself, but when
he was about to leave the house the memory of
former shocks returned, and he gave the hat to his
servant and went home in his cab bareheaded.
It may appear strange to those who reflect upon
the progress of the career of young Balfe^ that he
should have all the spare time he possessed, be
still pursuing his studies in composition, and yet
should have not given to the world any of the re-
sults of his labours. It never occurred to him to
rush to the publishers with his compositions with
that eager haste which is too often displayed now
by those who, having received some half a dozen
lessons in harmony, consider themselves qualified
to shine in all branches of composition, from a
double chant to a five-act opera. Balfe in his
early years was as open as the day, and he be-
lieved aU men to be as honest and as single-hearted
as he was. He was astonished to find that others
could not work with the same facility as himself,
and it may be imagined that his guilelessness was
soon discovered and taken advantage of.
A certain man who had a reputation as a popular
composerj but whose name Balfe would never dis-
close, sought out and cultivated the friendship of
the clever youth, and strengthened his own repu-
tation by claiming as his invention certain pieces
of work which were done off-hand, at the request
of his cunning entertainer, who professed astonish-
ment at his facility and knowledge. Balfe never
divined the motives of the man who reserved the
written papers in memory of the achievements.
The confidence and innocence of the youth did not
permit him to see the subtlety of the snare laid for
him when his "kind friend" gave him ten pounds
for composing the music to a set of words intended
to form an opera, including the duty of scoring the
whole for a full band. A part of the money so
earned was transmitted to his mother, and part
was spent in a boyish freak with a companion,
George Graham. One scene of the freak consisted
of a journey to Gravesend and Eochester on
horseback, each calling the other for the nonce
Lord WiUiam or Sir George, to the astonishment
and admiration of innkeepers and ostlers. The
harmless, light-hearted joke was often referred to
as a pleasant memory in after-years.
The amount of money Balfe earned at this time
was little more than was necessary for his own
maintenance in an extravagant place like London.
It was with sorrow he saw his legitimate expenses
increase^ and the prospect of being able to send
some of his earnings to his mother more and more
remote. A passage in one of his mother's letters
suggested the thought that she might be in imme-
diate need of help. With his usual readiness of
resource he went at once to Maple son, the copyist
of the theatre at which he was engaged, and asked
for work, which was given to him. He sat up
night after night until it was finished, and had
the consolation of feeling, and the sweet assurance
of knowing, that he had made his mother happier
by his labour.
Time wore on, and Balfe, still under nominal
articles to Horn, continued to work, and to study
the several matters connected with his profes-
sion, as well as those things which were neces-
sary in other branches. With his customary
rapidity he became well acquainted with the
French and Italian languages, and was learned
in the literature of those tongues as well as his
own. His memory was prodigious. He was quick
of acquiring knowledge, and retained all he
learned. He was accustomed in the periods of
recreation after business to imitate the famous
players and singers of the day. Among other
of his successful pieces of mimicry was that
which reproduced his master in his favourite
character of Caspar in " Der Freischiitz.'* He
was then seventeen, and his joking helped him
to discover that he had a voice of baritone
character, similar in power, though slightly
different in character, to that of his master.
After a short course of vocal training, the deve-
lopment of his voice was augmented by his
musical knowledge ; he conceived the idea of
adopting the lyric stage as a profession. His
hopes were raised to a high pitch when Mr. Crook,
the lessee of the Norwich Theatre, engaged him
to appear there as Caspar in Weber's opera, " Der
Freischiitz," then all the rage, even though it had
been first presented to the public in the mutilated
style then common with such things, and with the
addition of certain songs not properly belonging
to the opera. Balfe modelled his reading upon
that of his master, Horn, who had created the
part in which he was to make his debut, Eis
fun had led him to a serious step, but in spite of
his knowledge and abilities he failed. Stage
fright seized him, and paralyzed each effort, and
the performance was made most lame and impo-
tent by his nervousness. Another terror arose.
The business was brought to a conclusion by a
^' stampede," consequent upon a false alarm of fire,
arising from a too realistic representation of the
scene in the " Wolf's Glen." He returned to
London, humiliated but undaunted, and resumed
his old place in the orchestra of Drury Lane
His courteous manners, his good humour, and
his willingness to exhibit his accomplishments,
made him a welcome guest everywhere, and secured
for him a large circle of friends. Among these
friends was Mr. Heath, a banker, who exercised
all his influence in, making the path of life as easy
as he could for the young man whose talents he
admired so greatly.
At one of these reunions Balfe met the
Count Mazzara. The Count was a Eoman
of great wealtli, and liad recently lost his
only son, to wliom Balfe bore so great a re-
semblance as to cause at their first meeting
a most violent shock to the still grieving
father. The gloom of his sadness was dispelled in
a measure by the enjoyment he experienced in
hearing Balfe play and sing, and having learned
from the host that the young man was studying
for the musical profession, he generously offered
to furnish him with means to attain the end he
had in view. Balfe found no difficulty in getting
free from the few engagements he had yet to fulfil,
and speedily prepared himself to depart with his
patron for Italy. The burning hope of his life
had been that he might some day or another visit
Italy for the purposes of study. That which at
one time seemed to be so far out of reach, was
now placed within grasp under circumstances
of the most romantic character. On their way
±0 Eome they passed through Paris, and Balfe had
the opportunity of seeing and hearing all that was
being done in what was then considered the central
missionary station of art.
Here he was introduced by the Count Mazzara
to the veteran Cherubini, then in the sixty-sixth
year of his age, holding the post of Director of
the Royal Conservatoire of Music.
Balfe had heard in London many stories about
the rude behaviour of the old Italian to young
aspirants for musical honours, and it was there-
fore with no little trepidation that in reply to
the demand — for so it appeared to him to be — to
produce some of his compositions, that Balfe ex-
hibited only a few exercises. He had not pre-
pared the customary work which every young
composer has in his portfolio, the recognition of
whose merits is confined to a very limited area.
He had only his studies in counterpoint and a
few songs, and one or two overtures scored for a
band, intended chiefly for the eyes of his teachers,
Karl Friedrich and Charles Edward Horn.
These were pure and accurate in style, and with-
out being pedantic were dignified and gracefuL
His melodies also possessed a charm which ap-
pealed directly to the heart of the Italian maestro.
He then heard him play both upon the pianoforte
and violin, and was delighted to find that the
young man was equally happy in his power of
reading at sight, not merely playing the notes ac-
curately, but also of divining the expression suit-
able to the music.
Cherubini welcomed the young musician with
enthusiasm, and so far departed from his cus-
tomary treatment of budding genius as to invite
him to make his stay in Paris in order that he
might superintend his musical studies. The
Count Mazzara was willing for Balfe to decide to
accept or decline the valuable offer on his own re-
sponsibility, expressing his readiness to help him
with his purse to follow the course which Cheru-
bini suggested. Balfe's heart was set on Italy,
and while promising to ask the counsel and advice
at any time he might need it which the old man
proffered, he left Paris for Italy, to seek admission
into the ranks of the musicians whose works were
holding the public mind in willing captivity. He
also hoped to be able to develop his voice and
method by such instruction as could be obtained
only in " the land of the sonnet and the song." In
due time they arrived in Eome, after having passed
through all the chief cities of the South, and
visited every possible place of interest. Balfe's
artistic inclination enabled him to appreciate to
the utmost the architectural beauties, the pic-
turesque scenery, and the noble works of art, full
of intrinsic and historical value, on their progress,
his inclinations being guided into a right channel
by the extensive and sympathetic knowledge of
the Count, his cicerone.
His emotions upon reaching Eome were such as
might be expected to be experienced by one so im-
pressionable. The gloominess of the twilight hour
invested the most ordinary buildings with an
aspect of romance that did not fail to make itself
felt upon the silent wondering youth. When the
carriage had passed through the gates of the
Mazzara Palace he awoke to the fact that he had
entered upon a career which was to be in every
respect different to his previous mode of life. His
first thought was of his mother whom he had left
in her far-off humble dwelling. While he was still
thinking of her the Count led him by the arm
through the dimly lighted hall, up a wide stair-
case, and then into a saloon which seemed to be
lighted with great brilliancy in comparison with
the feeble rays through which he had just passed.
There lie saw in. the softly lighted saloon, two
ladies, one of whom for the momeat he thought
was the mother whose image was present in his
The Countess Mazzara was deeply moved at the
living image of her lost son, and bursting into
tears embraced young Balfe with the fondness of
In this luxurious home Balfe lived for many
months, only occasionally writing to his friends to
inform them that he was yet alive. He was never
fond of letter-writing. He did not neglect his
studies, but assiduously worked at composition,
under Ferdiuando Paer, but he did not pro-
rsecute his work so vigorously as he would have
done had he been spurred by the thorn of
necessity. He occupied his leisure time in the
composition of an opera " OteUo," the book being
the same as that used by Eossini, to ease his
conscience for indulgence in undesirable idleness.
At times he fretted at his inactivity, and longed
for work in which his independent spirit might
find its truest utterances. As he had no
thought of being anything else to his kind
friends ttan a welcome guest, he took ad-
Tantage of the departure of the Count Mazzara
for England at the beginning of the year 1826^
to ask to be permitted to continue the musical
training which had been so pleasantly suspended
for a time. Balfe did not wish to return to Eng-
land with the Count, and at his suggestion fol-
lowed the Maestro Federici with whom he had
been studying, as well as with Paer, a part of his
time in Home in a somewhat desultory fashion, to
Milan, the city he proposed to make his future-
It was a painful separation, but it was necessary..
Had he yielded to the promptings of the idle side
of his nature he might have lired in comfortable-
obscurity for the remainder of his life. He loTcd
his adopted mother much, he loTed his own toother
more, he loved his art best. He had promised his
mother to work, and to return to her a famous
man, if industry and perseverance could make him
such. The time was passing rapidly on, and he
had as yet done nothing. All the fame he had
earned had been awarded to him ere he left his-
Iiish home. Up to a certain tim,e he had been.
working hard to improTe his knowledge and ac-
complishments. His hand had been laid upon the
plough, and he had wearied before the furrow was
completed. He had not been true to his word, he
had not been altogether idle, but he had not used
his adyantages properly. Henceforth he would
work. From this time forward he would strive to
realize his promise to his mother. He therefore
accepted Count Mazzara's offer, and foUqwed
Tederici to Milan to work and redeem the time he
had scattered, but he hoped had not wholly lost.
The Count Mazzara had generously placed a sum
of money to the credit of young Balfe with his
agent at Milan, and had so far shown a continued
interest in his jprotege as to introduce him tO'
several people of position there. Taking an
affectionate leave of him he departed, and Balfe-
realised the fact that the serious business of life
was to begin.
In Milan therefore he resumed in earnest those
studies which had been for a while suspended
during his sojourn at the Villa Mazzara. He had.
just completed his eighteenth year, and his voice
was more formed and flexible. His hope of becom-
ing a vocalist was based upon better ground than
it had been when he made his debut at Norwich,
and he worted hard until as usual he had learned
as much as his master could teach him. All that
he looted for now was a favourable opportunity to-
appear upon the stage and commence a career
which had so much charm. He felt that all he
needed was experience. This he hoped to obtain
when once he was admitted to the ranks of operatic
artists. His musical qualifications were such as
gave him a great advantage over many who were
occupying the position he sought for. He could
read at sight any music placed before him, whether
it was for the voice, the pianoforte, or the violin.
This was a power not possessed by one in ten in
those days. The repertoire of an operatic vocalist
was only added to after much labour and frequent
repetitions. In every one of the Italian towns,
where there was an opera house and a troupe of
singers, was to be found an old musician whose
business it was to teach singers their parts, by
constantly and persistently drumming them into
their ears. Balfe's knowledge of music would
save him the trial and expense of all this drudgery,
and he could dispense with the aid of the
Federici tried all he knew to induce Glossop the
manager of the theatre at Milan to give Balfe an
engagement as the composer. He could not suc-
ceed in making the impresario believe in the talent
of tte young man. He had heard him play, he
had heard him sing, he had seen the compositions
which Pederici proudly showed as the work of his
young pupil. They were all very well no doubt,
but Balfe had not written for the stage, and
Glossop being only an impresario, had no power
of forming a judgment of the talents of any one
who had not been submitted to a public trial, and
moreover he was an Englishman, and whatever his
talents might be, he belonged to a country, in
whose artistic productions Glossop had no faith,
for all that he belonged to it himself.
Glossop had two theatres under his control. La
Scala in Milan, and San Carlo in Naples, the most
important lyric temples in Italy. Notwithstanding
the fact that he was an Englishman, and had
married an Englishwoman, Miss Eearon, a most
accomplished singer of whose talents he thought
so much that he engaged her for bis theatre at
Naples, in the place of the great Madame Fodor,
who had gone to Germany, at a salary of thirty
thousand francs for the operatic year, still he could
not be induced to believe that any other of his
compatriots possessed sufficient talent for his pur-
He was kind and hospitable to Balfe, as he felt
himself bound to be to one who came to him re-
commended by so valuable a friend and so powerful
a man as the Count Mazzara, but he was English.
Federici had caused some of Balfe's compositions
to be performed at a concert of the Conservatoire.
To this concert Glossop was persuaded to go, and
the music he then heard impressed him favourably.
He might not be able to find anything for Balfe to
do as a singer, but an opportunity might present
itself for him to allow him to try his hand at com-
position. This opportunity was soon found. All
Europe was then fascinated with the adventures
of a French sailor " La Perouse," who had been
shipwrecked on a savage island and had lived with
the natives for some years before he was rescued.
His experiences were made into novels, dramas,
operas, and ballets. The story admitted of a large
amount of barbaric display, such as Meyerbeer
found so effective for his opera " L'Africaine."
Glossop had with the assistance of his scene
painter and property-man Barrymore, also an
Englisliman, concocted a ballet •upon the all-
absorbing subject, and as they relied upon the
effect to be produced by the scenery and groupings,
he conceived it to be a small matter by whom the
music was written. He therefore commissioned
Balfe to furnish the necessary score. It was re-
quired in haste of course, but Balfe set to work
with an energy and determination, aided by a
genial appreciation of what was required for the
evolutions of the dancers, that at the first re-
hearsal everything was ready, and so happily did
the music suit the situations that scarcely an
alteration was required.
The enthusiasm inside the theatre at the success
of the young Irishman, was communicated to the
outside world, and to Glossop's astonishment the
music made as great an effect upon the public as
the spectacle which was of the most gorgeous
type. The Overture was encored, a March of the
tribes was highly spoken of, the principal dances,
and an Intermezzo descriptive of storm and ship-
wreck provoked the highest enthusiasm.
Glossop was delighted, and being convinced by
a process of reasoning which a theatrical manager
knows how to follow, promised to find an opening
for the young composer as a singer as soon as
possible. Balfe still looked forward to attaining
a position as a singer, rather than as a com-
poser. He continued his studies with Federici,
and with the Filippo Galli for whom Eossini had
written the part of Assur in Semiramide. This
experienced artist having heard Balfe^ had
taken him as a pupil for dramatic singing,
and upon his report Glossop had made the pro-
mised engagement. This was to commence in the
following spring, now but a few months off, and
Balfe's heart beat high with hopes of such success
as he felt sure earnestness and industry would
Before the spring returned Glossop had resigned
the directorship of the theatre La Scala at Milan,,
in order to give his undivided attention to that at
Naples, and Balfe^s hopes were once more dashed
to the ground. It was unfortunate that Glossop
should not have been enabled by his own ex-
perience to prove that it was quite possible for
good musical talent to be possessed by a native of
that country which had produced good stage
Balfe now felt the world was before hitn, and
to preserve his independence it was necessary that
he should exert himself in the direction towards
which his artistic sympathies led him. The suc-
cess of the ballet "La Perouse," suggested no
thought to him of following his bent as a com-
In the beginning of the year 1827, he returned
to Paris, intending to stay a few days only before
returning home. He had not seen his mother for
a long time, and his heart began to yearn for the
solace he would be certain to find in her kindly
greetings, through all his disappointments. To
his mother he would go. His pride would not
permit him to revisit Eome, and be once more the
welcome dependant of his kind friends and patrons
the Mazzaras. He would go home. At the worst
he would ask his old friend Tom Cooke to find
him a stool in the Drury Lane orchestra, and he
would bear the disappointment he had had to
suffer with the best grace possible. Fate seemed
to be against his even becoming a singer, while
his prospects as a composer were not brilliant
so long as ttere remained the difficulty of per-
suading any impresario to entrust him with a
libretto. When he found himself in Paris his first
thought was to present himself to Cherubini. The
old man received him very kindly and encouraged
him by referring to the success his music to " La
Perouse " had won, the news of which had been
conveyed to him from Italy. He questioned Balfe
about the work he had been doing, and won from
him a recital of his plans and desires, and also
heard him express his disappointment at the
failure of his hopes. Cherubini showed his latest
composition, a setting of the hymn " O Salutaris/'
for three voices, written for the celebration of
Boieldieu's marriage, and set out in score which
Balfe, walking to the pianoforte, read off at sight,
to the satisfaction of the author, who then asked
him to sing something that he might judge of the
progress he had made. At the conclusion Cherubini
said " You ought not to go to London if you wish
to see the fulfilment of your desires. You will be
lost there. Remain in Paris a few days until we
can see what can be done to assure your debut at
the Italian Opera." After a moment's thougM he
said, " Come dine with me to-morrow here, if you
-can, I will ask Rossini, will introduce you to
Mm, and he shall tell me what he thinks about your
abilities, that you may hear. He is, of all men
the one who will most readily appreciate your
talents, and will forward your best interests."
Rossini at that time was Director or Inspecteur-
General du Chant de France, not Director of the
Italian Opera as Balfe thought, but still his word
was powerful in a place like Paris, and inde-
pendently of the fact of his official position, Balfe
longed to meet a man whose works he admired so
greatly and whose name was a tower of strength
in every opera house in Europe — a man who was
the musical idol of the day.
Punctual to a moment Balfe presented himself
at the official apartments of Cherubini in the Rue
Poissoniere, and was welcomed by his host, and
introduced to M. Gallois and one or two other
friends who were present. In due time Rossini
appeared, accompanied by his wife, the beautiful
Madame Colbran, one of the greatest singers of
her time, and for whom Rossini had written some
of his best parts. She had retired from the
operatic stage, but occasionally her beautiful voice.
Mezzo-soprano in range. Contralto in quality,
■was heard at the private reunions of her friends.
It was a great event in the life of Balfe to
meet the husband and wife each so famous. It
was with immeasurable pride that he returned the
greeting of Eossini, and accepted his congratula-
tions upon the success of " La Perouse," concern-
ing which his friend and Balfe's master, Filippo
Galli, had already written. Balfe was therefore
not wholly a stranger to the great Rossini.
After dinner, Balfe was invited to sing. Cherubini
chose some duets written by his illustrious guest,
and Madame Rossini joined her voice with that of
the aspirant for fame, Rossini accompanying, and
Cherubini listening with critical admiration.
It was a proud moment in the young man's
life. In after-years he was wont to say that had
nature endowed him with the power of repre-
senting scenes and incidents pictorially, the one
picture he would spend his best energies upon
would have been the scene in the saloon of the
apartments in the Rue Poissoniere.
Rossini was charmed with tlie sweetness and
flexibility of Balfe's voice, and above all with the
artistic spirit and intelligence of his rendering.
When in the course of the evening Balfe had
gathered together some of his old saucy spirit,
and sat to the piano and accompanied himself in
the song, " Largo al factotum," from " II Bar-
biere," Eossini was delighted. At the same time
he told Balfe that he was sorry he had heard him
perform the task/' inasmuch as," said the com-
poser, good-humouredly, " until this time, I had
imagined that no one in the world could do that
In obedience to the request which Eossini had
made the night before, Balfe called upon the great
master the next day. He was ushered into the
quiet, luxurious room in which the composer was
said to work — a room filled with knick-knacks of
great artistic worth and association. By the
window was a handsome lectern on which was
opened a full score. On the wall above the writing
table was a splendid portrait of Mozart, whose
works Eossini venerated, and whose genius was
summed up by him in the inscription, set under
the portrait, " Maestro dei Maestri."
Balfe had scarcely time to note any other of the
interesting articles in the room, for Eossini en-
tered. He seemed to be greatly desirous of serving
Balfe. He promised to recommend him to the
Direction of the Italian Opera for an engagement
on condition that he would place himself under
Bordogni for twelve months for the purpose of
study. Balfe thought this a hard condition, but
kept his thoughts to himself and agreed to the pro-
Rossini had a double motive in making the pro-
position, one portion of which he disclosed in such
a manner as to make Balfe believe it to be the
whole. He told him that he wished him to
succeed Pellegrini, who was then advancing in
years, and gradually losing his voice, and to take
the whole range of the characters in which the
great baritone had made himself famous.
The twin motive was that Eossini guessed from
the years of young Balfe that his voice was not
fuUy matured, and required time and judicious
treatment to develop its now only promising
Balfe accepted the offer without hesitation,
and thanking Eossini, who had shown so real
an interest in his welfare, hastened to Cherubini
to tell him the result of the interview. On his
way to the Conservatoire, Balfe began to think
that he had but very little money left, and pon-
dered in his mind as to how and where he was to
find the funds to pay for Bordogni's lessons and
Tiis own maintenance. Before lie had solved tlie
difficulty he was in Cherubini's room, waiting for
the appearance of the maestro.
His ever-retentive memory enabled him to re-
peat word for word all that Rossini had said to
him. To the expressions of his gratitude Balfe
added those of his hopes and fears. As the thought
•of his conference with himself flashed across his
mind, the qualifying " but " rose to his lips.
"But what ? " said Oherubini.
" I cannot live in Paris or pay for Bordogni's
lessons, for I have no money," explained Balfe.
" Be easy," added Cherubini, " all that is pro-
"vided for. My friend M. GaUois, whom you met
-here last night, has expressed himself willing to
be your friend also. He has desired me to say
that if Rossini's report of you was favourable,
.and that if it was necessary for you to remain in
-Paris to study, that he should be happy to place
ten thousand francs at your disposal to make the
way pleasant for you."
The heart of the young singer literally leaped
for joy ; the tears came into his eyes at this unex-
j)ected stroke of fortune.
The old man heard the few words of thankful-
ness which expressed whole sentences of feeling:
with a grim smile as he said —
" But what, maestro ? " in turn said Balfe..
"There is a condition which; I make on my
own responsibility," said CheruMni.
"Name it," said Balfe, "and if it is within
my reach to accomplish I will make the attempt."
"It is this," said Cherubini, trying to look
severe, " that you come to me during the time
that you are in Paris, and let us read together."
Balfe accepted this offer with delight, and
Cherubini was pleased at the opportunity of keep-
ing near to him the young man whose frank and
genial disposition had so charmed him at the first
interview, when he played from memory to the-
silent old Italian many of the pieces he had studied
with Horn — fugues by Bach, choruses of Handel,
and arrangements of overtures by Cherubini him-
Balfe's work with Bordogni prospered. The
flexibility and extensive compass of the voice of
the pupil charmed the master. He wrote for him,
a series of exercises which formed the nucleus of
that famous course of solfeggi upon which Bor-
'dogni's artistic reputation was established and ex-
So great progress was efPected, that before
twelve months had passed Balfe made his appear-
ance at the Th6§,tre des Italiens as Figaro in
Rossini's " H Barbiere." Madame Sontag was the
Romia ; Signor Graziani^Dr. Bartolo; M. Levas-
seur, Basilio; Signor Bordogni, Balfe's master,
was the Almaviva.
The proof that this performance was successful
in the most gratifying form may be found in the
fact that the opera, with the same cast, was re-
peated nine times, and what is more to the pur-
pose, Balfe was engaged by Laurent, then manager
of the theatre, for three years.
This good news was brought to our happy bari-
tone by Eossini.
"Tou have done well, but you must continue to
work. Work, work, and yet work, and you will
become famous — must become so — by your sing-
ing and your compositions here and throughout
the Continent — ^perhaps also in your own country,"
The young artist was full of pride at this en-
couragement, and read with pleasure the note of
the terms Laurent offered — 15,000 francs for the
first year, 20,000 for the second, and 25,000 for-
the third ; not a bad beginning for a young man
not yet twenty years of age.
In the course of the engagement he sang the
principal baritone part in all the favourite and
popular operas then known. His chief triumphs
■were in Mozart's " Don Giovanni," the principal-
part in which opera it is said that he played con
amore, and sang Mozart's music with a grace and
eharm of expression which could only follow in
the wake of a sincere appreciation of the genius
of the composer. He also sang in " La Gazza
Ladra," in ''L'inganno felice," and in "Cener-
entola." In this last-named work he was as-
sociated with Madame Malibran for the first time,
and made artistic acquaintance with a singer who
was to add to her own and to Balfe's reputation by
her performance in an opera not yet dreamed of.
Balfe continued to compose studies and exer-
cises with Cherubini, in which all the subtleties
of counterpoint and canonic contrivance were
mastered by him with the like facility he had ever
shown in pouring forth melody, and with the
rapidity with which he had written the score
which earned him his first ten pounds. He
seemed to have no care for the value of this work
other than that which it brought him as an aid to
the interpretation of the several parts he was
called upon to sing according to his engagement.
He had no thought of becoming a composer.
His mind was set upon being a great singer, and
his only regret was that he had not had the oppor-
tunity of creating any new part. Before his en-
gagement commenced Eossini had produced
" Mozse " at the Academy of Music, and while it
continued he was working at the last and greatest
of his operas, "William Tell," which was pro-
duced in August, 1829, at which time Balfe had
entered on a new phase in his existence. Mean-
time, Rossini had noted the power Balfe possessed
as a composer, and only waited an opportunity to
do something to augment the fame he had gained
as a vocalist by bringing his inventive faculties
Eossini had said over and over again that when
a man has written many operas he begins to be a
little tired. He does not exhibit the same eagerness
for work as he did when starting upon his career.
This he repeated when Laurent asked him to
furnish some additional concerted music for Zin-
garelli's "Eomeo and Juliet," which he was
about to produce for the sake of introducing
Madame Malibran as Eomeo.
The time was too short to make an appeal to
the old maestro, Zingarelli, who was then in his
seventy-sixth year, living in poverty and obscurity
in Naples, and moreover he had ceased to write for
the stage, and was devoting his spare hours to the
collection and collation of his Sacred compositions.
It was therefore decided to ask some one on the
spot. Eossini recommended Balfe for the work, who,
after a little hesitation, agreed to undertake it.
He carefully studied the style of Zingarelli's
music, which was written some thirty years
before, and so happily did he catch the spirit of
the worthy old master, and so ingeniously did he
infuse his own tuneful soul into the work, that the
effect was as though Zingarelli had been endowed
with a new life and novel ideas.
The power of imitation which in time gone by
had revealed to him the knowledge that he was
gifted with a voice, now helped him to measure
his capacities as a composer. The ballet music
for "La Perouse" was dance music, which he
modestly said " any one might have written,"
which is true if that any one had been Balfe, but
this was a different affair. The overture, the two
scenas for Madame Malibran and Mdlle. Blasis,
respectively as B.omeo and Gruilietta, and the two
spirited and dramatic choruses, were fully ad-
mired. The prima baritono now became anxious
to earn the laurel crown of the composer.
Once more his friend Eossini came to help his
desire. At his suggestion Laurent gave him a
libretto founded upon the story of " Atala," by
Ch§,teaubriand, the French Byron as he has been
With the eagerness of an ardent lover Balf e set
to work at his libretto, and in an incredibly
short time worked out the whole scenario and com-
pleted three acta.
To do the best in his power to secure success for
the performance he had written the chief parts.
according to his instructions, for Malibran, Alexis
Dupont, Leyasseur, and Adolph Nourrit, who
created manj of tlie best parts in Rossini's later
operas, as well as those of Auber, Halevy, and
Meyerbeer, and ended a brilliant career by com-
mitting suicide in a fit of insanity out of
jealousy for Duprez, then rising into fame. Balfe
worked so hard and closely to complete his opera
before the conclusion of his engagement as a
vocalist, that his health gave way, and his doctor
— the famous Forsate — ordered immediate rest,
cessation from work, and a sojourn to Italy. It
was the first manifestation of the disease which
was to carry him off some thirty years later. Dis-
appointed, and disheartened almost, at the inter-
ruption of what seemed to be the opening of a
new life, Balfe prepared to obey the request urged
by his medical adviser. To mitigate the disap-
pointment as far as possible, M. Gallois arranged
a morning performance at his house of those por-
tions of the opera which were already completed,
and invited a number of the most distinguished
members of Parisian society — musical, dramatic,
and artistic — to hear the music.
The applause and approval bestowed upon the
work was most encouraging. The artists for
■whom the parts were designed were enthusiastic
concerning the share assigned to them, and Balfe
started with a light heart for his retreat in Italy,
already seeing in fancy the brilliant success which
everyone prophesied would be gained by the work
His hopes were never realized. The opera was-
completed, and the remainder of the work was
considered to be superior to that which had called
forth the praise of the experts. Balfe had been
sensible enough to perceive the necessity of be-
stowing more thought and labour upon the un-
completed portions in order to avoid the possibility
of an unfavourable verdict from those whose judg-
ment had encouraged him to go on.
He proposed to visit Milan and one or two
other places in Italy before he returned to Paris
with his score at the appointed time. In order
not to encumber himself with needless luggage he
left his opera, and several of his smaller scores,
including the canons, fugues, and pieces in coun-
terpoint of many species, single and doable, which.
formed the exercises he had prepared for Cheru-
bini during his staj in Paris, safely locked in a
stout wooden chest. This he carried with him
wherever he went, and when he reached Bologna
he left it ia the care of the Marquis Sampieri, who
was a great amateur and admirer of his talent.
He went to Milan to present the letters he had
received from his friend Rossini ; among others
one to the Count San Antonio, afterwards the
Duke of Canizzaro. Through the influence of this
nobleman he obtained an engagement as prima
haritono at the opera of Palermo, which was at
that time under the direction of the Count Som-
Having some time to spare, he could make his
journey by easy stages, and visit his early patron
the Count Mazzara, who was now returned to
Eome. On the point of starting from Milan, he
received a letter from the Marquis Sampieri, with
whom he had become acq uainted in Paris, pressing
him to stay with him at Bologna on his way to
Sicily. To Bologna he went, strengthened by
rest, and happy in the thought of renewing and
cementing a pleasant acquaintance with an agree-
able amateur musician. The Marquis met him on
the road, gave him a Southern welcome, and de-
lighted at the prospect of being able to justify the-
terms of praise in which he had spoken of Balfe
to his friends, carried him off to the palace of the
Prince Bacchiocchi, the husband of the sister of
the great Napoleon, to be present at the first of
many/eifes he was to take part in while in that
neighbourhood — a ball given in honour of the
birthday of the Princess.
One of the guests of the evening was Guilia
Grisi, then in the eighteenth year of her age. She
had abeady made her debut at the Teatro Com-
monale in Bologna as Emma in Eossini's " Zel-
mira," and was within a few days to commence
the engagement for the carnival season which'
proved the outset of her brilliant career.
The young baritone and the young soprano
sang solos and duets together, delighting and as-
tonishing all to such an extent that while they sang
dancing was suspended, and the ball rooms were
deserted for the concert room. The elEecfc of the
singing of the two young, handsome, gifted, and
enthusiastic artists, attracted towards each other-
hj a power they neither could define, may be
imagined by those who love to dwell upon such
The fascinations of Bologna were so great, the
■charms of the society so absorbiag, that Balfe
forgot both gratitude and duty.
He did not go to Rome to see his friends the
Mazzaras ; neither did he go to Palermo in time
to fulfil his engagement at the Opera.
He waited to celebrate the birthday of the
Marquis Sampieri, for which occasion he had
written a cantata with solos for Grisi and Signori
Tadolini and Pedrazza. The composer accom-
panied, and the chorus was formed by the ladies
and gentlemen of the place.
This work was considered so clever and inspired
that the Societa Pilarmonica di Bologna made the
author a honorary associate, and in compliment
to his entertainer, as well as a recognition of his
own social qualities, the exclusive Casino del
Nobili opened its doors to admit the young Irish-
man to the privileges of a life membership. All
this time he ought to have been at Palermo.
AccoEDiNG to the terms of his engagement he
should have presented himself at the theatre in
Palermo at the end of the year 1829. That time
had arrived, and he was still enchained at
He was fully aware of the consequences of his
delay, but when he explained his position to his
friend the Count Sampieri, he obtained, through
the Duke of Canizzaro, a letter of introduction to
the Princess Cataldo, who was living at Palermo,
and possessed great influence in society.
With all the speed possible he departed, after
having taken leave of his many friends, and
arrived in Palermo in due course. He went
straight to the Palace Cataldo and presented his
letter. The kind-hearted Princess at once set
matters smooth by inviting the director, the Count
Sommatino, to meet the errant baritone at her
He made his debut on the 1st of January, 1830^
in the part of Valdeburgho in " La Straniera " hj
It was the birthday of the King of Naples, and
the Viceroy attended in state. The house was
crowded, and Balfe, not knowing the etiquette on
such occasions, was astonished to find the Southern
audience as cold as Icelanders. No applause was
permitted when the Court was present except that
which was directed by the representative of the
State. Fearful lest he should have been thought
to be wanting in his efforts to please, Balfe threw
his whole soul into the Aria in the second act, and
so moved the whole audience that they unani-
mously murmured the approval they were not per-
mitted otherwise to express. The Viceroy gave the
signal for a repetition, and thus encouraged, the
whole house burst into a roar of approval.
If the manager had had any latent fear or doubt
that his primo haritono had delayed keeping his
engagement from incapacity, and a fear of pre-
senting himself before a critical audience, that
doubt and fear were dispelled. He had secured a
prize. The house was filled night after night until
the opera had been repeated seventy times — a
course of repetition which brought nearer the
beginning of the Lenten season the close of Balfe's
" La Straniera " ceased to be strange, and would
have been performed for the whole period of
Balfe's stay had not the chorus struck for an in-
crease of pay. Sommatino was unwilling to
comply with their demands, and longed for an op-
portunity to dispense with their services. Accord-
ing to his contract he must produce opera. Had
it not been so he would have arranged a series of
concerts, to be supported by his principal artists.
There were few operas available of sufficient in-
terest, without requiring a chorus, that would
bring the public to the theatre, and keep them
there when brought.
Balfe had grown attached to Sommatino during
the course of his engagement. The memory also
of his kindness in not clapping him into prison
when he arrived at Palermo, as he had the power
to do, also lived green in Balfe's mind. With his
customary readiness he offered to write a work
that miglit serve the purpose required, if a suit-
able libretto could be concocted.
This was done. Balfe gave the poet of the
theatre a copy of a French vaudeville he had
brought with him, entitled " Les Eivaux d'eux
MSmes," and this was made into an opera, with
title " I Bivah di se Stessi."
While the work was being written — twenty days
was the time allowed — Cimarosa's " I Matrimonio
Segreto," Eossini's " L'Inganno Felice," in which
he had made a success in Paris, and Mozart's
" Cosi fan tutte " occupied the stage. " I Eivali "
bad no part for Balfe ; he generously omitted him-
self from the cast in favour of others. Mdlle.
Liparini and Signori Boccacini and Scalesi sang in
the opera, which brought the season to a satisfac-
tory end, without the public in any way missing
the services of the insubordinate chorus.
Balfe, in the list he made of his operas, and the
dates of their production, gives the year 1829 as
the period when "I Eivali" was written. This
m.ust be a slip of the pen, for that year was spent
by him partly in Paris, partly in Milan, and partly
in attractive Bologna.
It is possible that counting the year by the com-
mencement of the engagement, he may have un-
intentionally misled the reader.
In Italy the chief engagement of the year is
called the Carnival engagement. This is usually
for about seventy days, terminating with Shrove
Tuesday, and as that date is variable, for it de-
pends upon Easter, the commencement of the
season occupies part of the last month of the pre-
ceding year. It is then called the Carnival of
1829-30, or so on, for brevity 1829. So it must
have been in the present instance.
It has been already shown that he did not begin
his engagement in Palermo until the first day of
the year 1530 ; the event which called for the
production of the new opera without chorus
did not occur until near the end of the Carnival
season, and therefore the year of its birth was
Balfe made a similar error in recording the date
of the production of the " Siege of Eochelle,"
which was in the year 1835. This he had entered
on his list as 1836, a year too late. The lesser
work had been set down as having been done a.
year too soon ; a compensation in some sort -with-
out a balance was thus effected.
After leaving Palermo Balfe still thought of
going back to Eome, and once more was prevented
by the offer of a small engagement at Piacenza^
which he accepted, and hastened northwards. He
desired to renew the pleasant hours he had spent
in Bologna, but the chief attraction was else-
After a short rest of a few weeks, he went
to Bergamo to arrange about an engagement for
the Carnival season of 1830-31. He did not
sing at Bergamo, but he made the acquaintance
of Mdlle. Lina Eoser, who afterwards became his-
wife, and to whose wise counsels and careful fore-
thought he was to owe his eminence.
Mdlle. Eoser, a lady by birth, and a. member
of a distinguished Hungarian family, was
at that time engaged to appear as prima
donna at the Carcano Theatre at Milan, in
company with the great Pasta, Elisa Orlandi,
Eugenie Martinet, and other ladies, Eubini,
Mariani, and Galli being the leading male
singers. One of the works intended to be pro-
-duced during this season was " La Somnambula,"
of Bellini, and the composer was anxious to give
the part of Amina to the young Hungarian lady,
who by her personal beauty, her rich and fall
voice, similar in quality to that of Catalan!, her
great talent for acting, and power of expression,
seemed to be in everyway fitted for the realization
of the part.*
Her knowledge of Italian at that time was too
lim.ited to permit of her making the trial without
risk. She sang the music superbly, but by the
advice of her instructor, the Cavallero Miche-
roux — who also was the vocal master of Pasta, —
she forbore to undertake the part, and it was
assigned to Pasta, with what result all the
world knows when it was produced on the 6th of
It was this characteristic self-denial which not
only ennobled her, but was also destined to con-
solidate the greatness of her future husband.
Meantime Balfe had to go to Pavia: He was
aU unconscious of the blessings that were in
*" Belle comma la jour, doufie d'un voix dont rampleur, la
richesse et la sonority ne pouvaient connaitre de ri vales, come-
dienne dela tete auxpieds."
store for him. His dream of happiness was appa-
rently not to be realised, the horizon of bliss was
clouded because the friends of the lady with
whom he had fallen violently in lore had deter-
mined to prove, not for the first time, that the
course of true love never did run smooth.
Happily he was no repining lover, and did not
relax his endeavours to fulfil his duty, but worked
steadily on, with a dawning perception of the im-
portance of careful exertions to secure the object
lie had in view.
The " quiet confidence" which was his strength
had stood him in good stead on more than one
memorable occasion. In Pavia it was to be the
foundation of a development of power in a new^
He never asserted himself, but was always ready
to undertake work which should help others out
of difficulties. In Milan he had aided Grldssop
with a bright and successful work, the ballet " La
Perouse." In Palermo he had saved the manager
from a premature collapse by his opera, " I Eivali."
In Pavia he was to help the manager again by
undertaking to discharge a difficult duty in an
emergency for wMch he had made no provision.
Eossini's opera, " Mose in Egitto," was in re-
hearsal, and RoUa, the conductor, who was old in
years and older in prejudices, found the music far
too great a task than he cared to proceed with.
He could not satisfy the singers as to their ideas
of the reading of the music, ^.nd he did not care
to make the effort. The manager was in despair,
for the work had been announced, and expecta-
tion was raised to a high pitch. He entreated,
he implored, in the interests of his artists, who
were wearied of the obstinate incompetent. Holla
was inflexible; he would not yield. He was
primo violino and leader ; the thing must be done
his way. This passage must be altered, that ex-
punged, until the score was as nearly assimilated
to the "big guitar" pattern that he had been ac-
customed to. Rossini, in his opinion, had become
eccentric and exacting in his later compositions,
AU must be altered if he conducted.
Balfe, who had heard the work in Paris, had a
full impression of the pace of the several move-
ments, and of the effect of the instrumentation.
At last he was appealed to, and modestly stated
The violin players failed to render one phrase
as neatly as was necessary. Balfe insisted upon
its repetition until they had mastered it to his
satisfaction. Rolla interrupted the practice by
calling out —
" You had better cut it out ; it is no violin pas-
sage at all."
" Not a violin passage ! " exclaimed Balfe.
" Eossini surely knew how to write for the instru-
ment upon which he was proficient."
"Very well, since you are so confident, perhaps
you will play for me, and I will sing for you," said
Eolla, hoping to humiliate Balfe, and not knowing
all his capabilities.
Balfe took a violin from the hands of one of the
members of the band, who were grinning in ex-
pectation of a lame performance, and played the
passage with power, expression, and accuracy.
The band, chorus, and principals burst into such a
torrent of applause that it swept poor Rolla out of
the theatre, which he never entered again. Balfe
could not foresee the effect of the mortification he
had caused, and regretted the Irish impetuosity
"which had made him giye pain to a brother artist,
howeyer irritating he had been.
The situation had been forced upon him, and he
felt bound to follow it to the end, whatever that
" Mose " was successful, and once more the
season passed tranquilly. Before the conclusion
Balfe was invited to write another opera. Cir-
cumstances delayed the production until the day
when he was to finish his engagement and take
his parting benefit. The opera, " Un Avverti-
mento di Gelosi," was successfully receivedj and
was further made memorable by the fact that in
this Eonconi made his second appearance upon the
-operatic stage, and laid the foundation of a fame
which was soon to become European.
Balfe was now a recognised vocalist, whose ser-
vices had been secured for the best theatres in
Italy. He had proved that he was a competent
conductor, and that he was quick, fertile in his
ideas, and original in his inspirations as a com-
Fresh from his triumphs at Pavia, Balfe paid a
visit to Milan, and the Cornara Opera House being
still open, lie was one among the most enthusiastic
of the audience on certain evenings. He was in-
vited to pay a visit to the manager of La Scala,
and in the interval between the receipt of the in-
vitation and the time for keeping the appointment
he built all sorts of castles in the air, the founda-
tion of all being his appointment at the theatre,
which of course he imagined was the object of the
invitation. He was disappointed in one respect,
but gratified in another. It was as a composer^
and not as a singer, that he was to be admitted to
La Scala. This was, if possible, more honourable
a post than his imagination pictured. La Scala in
Milan is the north star in the operatic firmament
round which all the constellations move. To secure
success there is to attract the attention of the
whole musical world.
The new opera he was asked to write was called
" Enrico Quarto al Passo del Marno." The fresh-
ness of the melodies, the vocal character of the
phrases, the brilliancy of the orchestration, and the
basis of scientific knowledge displayed through-
out, enchanted critics, hearers, and singers alike..
The opera was successful, and for a long time re-
tained a place in the repertoires of the best operatic
theatres in Italy. By this Balfe obtained ultimate
fame, but little present profit.
Composers in those days were not able to ob-
tain large sums for their efforts. Eossini was'
never well paid for the best of his works. Doni-
zetti wrote whole operas for sums only a little
more than a modern writer obtains for a single'
song. The friends of Bellini urged him to de-
mand higher terms for his opera, " La Somnam-
bula," than had been paid before for a like work,
and yet he was paid only 10,000 francs. As times.
went Balfe was compelled to be content with 200
— about eight pounds — for " Enrico Quarto."
Madame Malibran, whom Balfe had known in-
Paris, was present at the performance of this
opera. She was the guest of the governor, at
whose soirees she had been singing during the few
days of her sojourn in Milan. She had recently
left Paris, and was on her way to Eome, where
she was engaged to sing at the Theatre Valle.
She was delighted to meet Balfe, and in express-
ing her admiration for his work, told him that she
should not be satisfied until she had sung in an
opera of his in London.
Balfe seemed to have forgotten all about London,
and to fear that his hope of returning to the
metropolis of Great Britain was too far for realiza-
tion. His countrymen may have heard of his fame
abroad, and he might become known among them
as a vocalist if any opportunity presented itself
which would bear him to London in its fulfilment.
But as a composer he appeared to think his chance
was doubtful because none were so prejudiced
against English composers so much as the English
Malibran ever earnest and sincere on behalf o£
those she took an interest in, prevailed upon the
manager to include Balfe in the company of
vocalists of " La Scala " and helped him to win
bright honour by the manner in which she per-
formed with him on the stage. She also organized
a tour in which he was engaged, which was both
successful and remunerative. The tour was ar-
ranged by Signer Puzzi who at the conclusion in-
duced Balfe to accompany him to London to try
his fortune among his countrymen as a leading
With hearbs full of high anticipations, the
young baritone and his charming wife started for
England. He burned for the time when he could
show his countrymen that he had not been idle
during his long absence from his native land. He
could show his score of " La Perouse," his
" Atila," and he could for his own delight retrace
the stages by which he had arrived at the-
eminence they represented by means of his studies
with Horn, and Cherubini. To Count Sampler! he
sent asking to have the box in which they were
treasured despatched by Vetturina. The Count
promptly and courteously replied, saying that he
duly caused them to be delivered as directed.
The box never arrived, and though diligent search
and outcry was made, no vestige of its contents-
has been discovered to the present day.
The first few montlis of the year in wliicli Balfe
returned to London were bridged over by the few
engagements which were offered to him. He
appeared at the Ancient Concerts, then a most
exclusive institution chiefly supported by the
^aristocracy, and justifying its title by the preser-
vation and occasional production of the fossil
remains of antique art. He also sang at other con-
certs in the season of 1833-4. The date is memor-
able in the annals of the music. The second visit
of Mendelssohn to London was made on the 27th
April in that year, and his Italian Symphony was
rfirst heard at a concert of the Philharmonic
In 1834 Balfe brought letters from Grisi and
Malibran to Mr. Arnold of the English Opera
House — now the Lyceum Theatre — and was com-
missioned by him to write a work with an English
libretto for the opening of the theatre which he
had caused to be built. The author of the libretto
was Mr. Edward Fitzball, a dramatic writer of
great power and fancy, and above all, one who
was by no means deficient in the qualities looked
for in a true poet. The subject suggested by
Balfe himself, was the story upon which Eicci's
"La Chiara de Rosenberg" was founded. Fitz-
ball has left it on record, that by accident he
had read the book, two or three days before,
but did not seem to think the story sufiiciently
dramatic. Still he kept his opinion to himself
and set to work vigorously to write the book.
He was ardent and enthusiastic, and finding both
those qualities and others in the young genius
whose reputation had preceded him from the
Continent, there was no lack of will on the part
of the authors. Balfe laboured with a courage
and speed equal to that of his literary collaborateur
who had finished the first act in two days. The
score was given out, as it was written. The
parts were distributed, the rehearsals proceeded
with, and all who heard the music were
fascinated with its charm. The greatest success
was prophesied for the work. All at once Balfe
learned to his dismay, that the manager did not
feel inclined to expend inuch money in the pro-
duction. The building of the theatre and other
expenses had reduced the treasury, and it was
thought that the public would come to the theatre
for the novelty's sake, and if Balfe's work was
what he knew it to be, it would attract audiences
for itself whatever was the manner of the mount-
ing. Balfe thought differently, and though it
was almost a death-blow to his hopes, decided not
to risk the production of his opera unless it could
be placed on the stage in a manner in which he
thought worthy. So the English opera which
was written for the English Opera House was not
given there. Loder's " Nourjahad " written the
year before, was substituted. Before the negotia-
tions were broken off, and while the rehearsals-
were still proceeding, Balfe was surprised to
receive a visit from his old leader and fellow-
countryman Tom Cooke, who was yet at his post
at Drury Lane Theatre. The lessee of the
national home of the drama at that time was-
Alfred Bunn, the poet Bunn, as he was after-
Tom Cooke told Balfe, in confidence of course,
that he had been sent secretly to find out what the
music was like. Bunn's curiosity was awakened by
the glowing account he had heard from Mapleson,
the copyist to the theatre. The hitch in the
arrangements had probably also reached his ears,
and with his usual business-like astuteness he had
thought to enlist the services of Balfe, " this Signer
Balfi of whom every-one was talking," in time to
come, if not in the present.
Cooke's reply was characteristic.
" Well, Mr. Bunn, if you could only get this
' Siege,' it would be a sort of wheel-within-wheel
arrangement. You would have the Siege on the
stage, and the walls of old Drury would be besieged
in turn." Bunn did secure the opera, and pro-
duced it on the 29th October, 1835. He agreed to
pay Balfe five pounds each night it was performed,
and was pleased at having made so easy a bargain.
The composer naturally felt proud of the advance
in his position since he last entered the theatre.
Mr. Henry PhiUips in his Musical and Personal
Eecollections does not tell the whole truth con-
cerning this matter when he states that Mr. Bunn
accepted the opera on his recommendation. He
tells several anecdotes about our young composer,
the gist of which is intended to reflect creditably
on himself, and therefore in his generosity he has
not always been accurate. He is just to Balfe when,
he says that " ' The Siege of Eochelle' was full of
life, vigour, and originality, abounded in melody,
and was arranged most dramatically," but he knew
not the work nor the author until he met him
on the stage, during the rehearsals at Drury Lane.
FitzbaU, the author of the book, records his
impressions of the days previous to the production.
" Many and delightful were the rehearsals of this
opera ; they flow back to me in sweet melodies of
youthful feelings and early dramatic friends —
Henry Phillips, Seguin, Wilson, GiubelU (I never
knew how to spell his name), Paul Bedford,
Hallam, Miss Shirreff — charming Miss Shirreff,
and pretty Fanny Healey.
" It was a glorious night, the first night of
' The Siege of Eochelle ' — one to wish your whole
life long the first night of a new play or a new
opera. The cram there was the fashion, the
delicious music, the enthusiastic applause, the
double encores, never tad I witnessed anything
like it. ' Vive le Eoy,' ' Lo, the early beam of
morning,' and 'When I beheld the anchor
weighed/ * The Cottage near Eochelle,' were
especial marks of approbation, and had an
immense sale at the publishers', then Addison
and Beale, in Eegent Street. The applause
was so unanimous — so really applause, for those
who understand it, can always tell the real ap-
proval from the claquer — ^no knocking behind slips
by box-keepers. Under any circumstances a pro-
ceeding ' more honoured in the breach than in the
<)bservance.' So carried away were even persons
of the highest consequence by the enthusiasm
created by this beautiful music (thought by many
-stiU to be Balfe's best composition), that people
bent over, and nearly threw themselves from the
side boxeSj next the orchestra, to congratulate
and shake hands with the yo ung composer. They
crowned him with a wreath of flowers, and I
question, amid all the numerous and brilliant suc-
cesses of this great artist, if he ever felt such a
•delighted heart as on the first night of ' The Siege
of Eochelle.' "
Professor Maefarren in his biographical notice
in the " Imperial Dictionary," says with the suc-
cess of this work, " Balfe was thus established as
a popular composer, ' My Cottage near Rochelle '
was built in the streets of London ; ' Vive le Eoi '
was sung as a benediction to the Sailor King,
William the Fourth."
The opera had a great run, and was played
together with a translation of "La Juive," by
Planche, in which Miss Ellen Tree (afterwards
Mrs. Charles Kean) and Mr. Vandenhoff sustained
the chief parts.
As Henry Phillips affirms the " success was
great, and yielded a great harvest both to the
composer and the treasury."
Queen Adelaide^ the consort of William the
Fourth, was delighted with the music, and ac-
cepted the dedication of the work when it was
published ; she also commanded a performance of
some of the chief morceaux of this opera at one of
the Court concerts. She caused — as a surprise to
Balfe — a set of silver bells to be made to accom-
pany the quartett " Lo, the early beam of morn-
mg," for which she always expressed the greatest
When our beloved Queen Victoria paid her first
state visit to the theatre, soon after her accession
to the throne, the " Siege of Rochelle " was per-
formed by special desire. The interest which she
then exhibited in the work of the foremost among
native composers, increased with increasing years,
and continued after the hand " whose sMlful pen
could reproduce the burning thoughts of a busy
brain," was still and cold. A portrait of the Queen
represented in the pride of youth and beauty, stand-
ing in her box at Drury Lane, on this occasion, was
one of the most successful artistic efforts of -th©-
fi^!^i^^(^,g\£!hAl«a. It was engraved on steel by Walker.
Balfe's name was now foremost in the minds of
the musical public. His melodies were on every
lip. His fame was secured, and he had confidence
in his own resources to believe that he would be
enabled by his subsequent productions to justify
the good opinion everywhere now expressed of
his abilities. He could return to his native land
with pride at having so far fulfilled his own
1 02 BALFE.
prophecy concerning himself. But there was yet
mucli more to be done. Commissions for work
poured in on all sides. He who a short time ago
had felt grieved at the first repulse of fortune at
denying him a hearing, longed for greater power
to do all that was asked of him.
The pleasant and sweet cup of prosperity was
not without a dash of bitterness and gall. Hear
Mr. Bunn. "It became the fashion." he writes,
" as inrariably it does in this country, to abuse a
man the moment his abilities begin to denote a
mental superiority over those he is surrounded by.
In France, Italy, and Germany every species of
encouragement is held out to a rising genius — in
England he is subject to every possible detraction,
and the moment Balfe's talent burst upon the
town, it was assailed by the most unwarrantable
attacks. Persons callingthemselves musical judges
were loud in their assertions that every note of
' The Siege of Eochelle ' was stolen from Eicci's
Opera of ' Chiara di Rosenberg ; ' and it was not
until this last-named composition was produced
by the Italian Buffo Company, under the spirited
direction of Mr. Mitchell, that these self-consti-
tuted judges tardily and reluctantly admitted that
there were not half a dozen bars in the two operas
that bore the slightest resemblance to each other."
As Mr. Bunn describes the event, it was proved
that hearing was believing. The old proverb that
"seeing is believing" did not prove true. The
two scores were on view on the counters of the
music-publishers for weeks, and advertisements
were inserted in the newspapers announcing that
fact. Many of those who had written disparagingly
of the wort came to see Eicci's book as it stood
side by side with Balfe's. Some came voluntarily,
others by special invitation. But they were all
slow to be convinced by the evidence of their eye-
sight. Both works were printed in musical cha-
racters, and it was not a sine qua non of a musical
critic's business in those days, that he should
understand the alphabet of the subject upon which
he was called upon to write learned and eloquent
English musicians were at that time struggling
for encouragement. John Barnett's " Mountain
Sylph" had been produced, and had made itself
deservedly popular. Edward Loder had written
his " Nouijaliad " abounding with melody and
musical contrivance. Each of these operas re-
produced the style which Sir Henry Bishop had
made popular. In the first " The Magic-wove
Scarf" was an earnest and successful attempt to
introduce the dramatic element into an opera in a
more serious style than had been hitherto
attempted by English composers. Balfe's music
went further than either composer had as yet ven-
tured in the region of dramatic expression. All
the concerted pieces in " The Siege of Eochelle "
seem to grow out of the situations and exactly to
express them, as well as to intensify them. The
orchestra had work to do which required attention
and could not be " simplified " or " guessed at."
The Overture actually contained phrases of canonic
imitation, and was written in that modification of
Sonata-form which had already begun to mate it-
self distinguished in the Overture and was counted
as a development. In every place there was a respect
for the demands of form. The melodies were such
as the listener delighted in, and the singer loved
to execute. The harmonies were rich and new.
In short Balfe had shown in his ''Siege of
Eochelle" that he had made a distinct artistic
advance, and had set a pattern which might be
expanded and extended by all who had the power
and the will to advance the claims of English
musical practical science. The public hailed his
■efforts with delight. Musicians trembled at his
innovations and daring ideas, and tried to make
themselves believe that they were all wrong. They
copied his patterns however, and flourished on the
new knowledge they had thus helped themselves to.
He was called the English Eossini, as a few
jears before Sir Henry Bishop had been distin-
guished by the title of the English Mozart.
Each deserved the compliment thus paid to
his genius, and Balfe in humble imitation of
the great Maestro after whom he was named,
determined like him to close his ears to envious
disparagement, to employ the gifts he possessed
honestly and fearlessly, to work steadily and
use his abilities in. the most earnest way,
tempered by the science he possessed, but careful
not to obtrude his learning so as to become
pedantic and to lose sight of the heavenly gift of
melody with which he had been so richly endowed.
The facility with which Balfe was wont to produce
his work was astonishing. His readiness and
willingness to accommodate himself to circum-
stances, was one of the causes of his great
popularity with all those with whom he had to
deal. Like the " Merry Zingara," in one of his
own songs he had " a smile for all."
He could show by example how an artist should
sing or play a passage concerning the execution
of which there may have arisen a difficulty. He
could group a chorus in effective attitudes, he
could arrange the colours of the costumes so as to-
produce the like harmonious results to the eye as.
his music did to the ear. He could make peace-
between the stage manager and the carpenters
who could not or would not shift a scene so as to-
prevent the appearance of delay, and all with that
extraordinary tact that he seemed to have made-
the persons chiefly concerned, the originators of
the thing he desired to see effected.
At the final rehearsal of " The Siege of Eochelle "
he observed that the concluding symphony of one
of the numbers gave the carpenters scarcely time
enough to shift the scene without an ugly pause.
He could not stop the rehearsal, but he made a
mental note of the matter, and told the master
carpenter that he would provide a remedy for the
defect. He left the theatre without having done
what he proposed. In reviewing his work the
man remembered the promise, and finding that
the copyist had not been supplied with the supple-
mentary piece of music, he rushed off to Balfe's
house and found him at dinner.
" A messenger from the theatre,^^ was sufficient
excuse for a few moments' absence from the room.
The sixteen bars were written and scored, and
Balfe took his place once more at his table.
" What did the man want ? " was the inquiry.
" He wanted sixteen bars to eke out that car-
" Let him wait, and you can write them after
" They are done, and I daresay that Maplesoa
has the parts copied from the score by this
In the evening everything passed off smoothly,
and Bunn not knowing how the matter had been
arranged, told the master carpenter that " he was
certain that those lazy fools could shift the scene
in time to the music if they only tried."
The success of " The Siege of Rochelle " made
Balfe the lion of the season. His name and his
melodies were in the mouths of every one. He was
engaged at concerts, and at private entertain-
ments of the nobility, and reaped a golden harvest.
Some of his early supporters continued their
friendship for him throughout life. The Duke of
Beaufort was pleased to show his appreciation of
Balfe in many ways. He invited him frequently to
dinner, and did much to make his genius known,
and to show his estimation of his personal cha-
racter. The Duke of Devonshire — to whom the
opera " Falstaff " was to be dedicated — was also
kind to the rising genius. On one occasion when
Balfe accompanied the singers at an Italian concert
which the Duke gave, he was presented with a
rouleau of twenty-five sovereigns, his customary fee
The memory of a former windfall revived the
desire for a like adventurous exercise, and he
started with a friend to Richmond where they
spent a happy day and a portion of the money so
On his return home he found another piece of
good fortune awaiting him, a packet from Bimn
enclosing a libretto he had written. This he com-
missioned Balfe to set for Malibran whom he had
engaged at the unusually large sum of £120 per
night. There was also a letter from Malibran
herself, announcing her arrival, and her desire
that he should redeem his promise and write an
opera for her during her engagement at Drury Lane,,
which she had come to London to fulfil. The opera
was completed and put in rehearsal. The title
selected was " The Maid of Artois." The subject
had been used before, but the treatment was all
new. The principal parts were represented by
Madame Malibran, Isoline ; Mr. Templeton, Jules
de Montagnon ; Signer Guibilei, Sans Eegret ;
Henry Phillips, the Marquis; Mr. Seguin,
Synnelet. Bunn paid Balfe, as before, five guineas
a night for the acting right.
In this opera occurs the famous air " The light
of other days," in the symphonies of which Balfe
introduced the cornet-4-pistons for the first time
into the orchestra, under the name of " cornetta."
Malibran's singing and acting was marvellous in
its effects ; consequently her success as Isoline was
astonishing, the opera was most attractive and
profitable. The receipts for the first sixteen
nights were £5,690, an astonishing sum, but
only a little less than the profit realized by the
publisher for one of the songs, "The light of
The " Eondo finale/' "With rapture dwelling,"
which became so well known on the Continent as
to receive the title of " Balfe's air," was written
as an afterthought. Balfe had great knowledge
and experience of stage effect, and as the
rehearsals proceeded, he became more and more
■convinced that the " number " written originally
for the Finale would fail and bring the opera to a
tame end. Malibran was convinced that the
contrary would be the case. " Tou will be wicked
"to cut it out/' she said to the composer. "It is the
most bx'illiant piece in the opera." Balfe determined
to write a new air. With his body fatigued, and
his mind still active, he fell asleep when he
reached home, and waking suddenly after mid-
night, the theme presented itself almost unbidden,
certainly unwooed. It was written down and
scored before he went to rest. Early in the morn-
ing he went to the lodgings of the prima donna,
she was stiU in bed. Her husband De Beriot was
practising with his violin in the drawing-room.
With the enthusiasm which sympathetic musicians
feel for each other's works, De Beriot played the
voice part and Balfe accompanied upon the piano-
forte. Madame's bedchamber was too far distant
to enable her to hear and judge of the change.
She was unwilling to be disturbed. She was
content with the finale as it existed. At De
Beriot's suggestion, however, they carried the
small piano into her room, and played the new
finale over. At first annoyed, then amused at the
behaviour of the "two maniacs," she heard,
listlessly, then eagerly, then finally embraced
Balfe, and promised to learn the scena in time to
sing it at the final rehearsal that morning, which
she did, and roused the hand, the chorus, her
fellow-artists, and others who were present, into*
a state of excitement by her quickness and daring,,
which was expressed hy a spontaneous burst of
applause, a foreshadowing of what occurred at
night. The first performance was given on the
27th of May, 1836, seven months after the pro-
duction of "The Siege of Eochelle," and once
more was Balfe's name everywhere spoken of with
Bunn in his amusing and pleasantly egotistical
memoirs tells an anecdote about Malibran in Con-,
nection with this opera which may be repeated as
showing the interest she took in the work, and of
her anxiety to do the best she could for the com-
" She had borne along the two first acts on the
first night of performance in such a glow of
triumph that she was bent, by some almost super-
human effort, to continue its glory to the final fall
of the curtain. I went into her dressing-room,
previous to her commencement of the third act, to<
ask how she felt, and she replied —
"'Very tired; but' — and her eye suddenly
lighted up — ' you angry devil, if you will contrive
to get me a pint of porter into the desert scene,
you shall have an encore to your finale.'
" Had I been dealing with any other performer,
I should perhaps have hesitated in complying with
a request that might have been dangerous in its
application at the moment; but to check Mali-
bran's powers was to annihilate them. I there-
fore arranged that behind the pillar of drifted
sand, on which she falls in a state of exhaustion
towards the close of the desert scene, a small
aperture should be made in the stage ; and it is a
fact that underneath the stage, through that
aperture, a pewter pint of porter was conveyed to
the parched lips of this rare child of song, which
so revived her, after the terrible exertion the scene
led to, that she electrified the audience, and had
strength to repeat the charm with the finale. The
novelty of the circumstance so tickled her fancy,
and the draught itself was so extremely refreshing,
that it was arranged during the subsequent run
of the opera for the negro slave at the head of the
governor's procession, to have in the gourd
suspended at his neck the same quantity of the
same beverage, to be applied to her lips on his
first beholding the unhappy Isoline."
Whether this was really the true version of the
story, or whether the story was true at all matters
not now to inquire, the opera was successful, and
the exertions of the prima donna helped to secure
the enthusiastic reception of the work, and a wide-
spread favour for the Finale.
The libretto was considerably inferior to that of
the former opera by Fitzball, and Balfe seems to
have cared more for the smoothness of the rhythm
of his own musical cadences than to pay attention
to the words of Bunn. He evidently did not
regard as any hindrance to his work the false
quantities of Bunn's verses, though at the time
he fitted music to certain of the words he must
have winced at the incorrect accents. He did
certainly object to one song which spoke of " The
moon o'er the mountain " when the action was
supposed to take place by day. Bunn accommo-
datingly altered it to " the sun," but Balfe never
fancied the song he had written to words whose
sentiment was not violated by' so easy a change.
•and it was omitted after the first representation
for it made no effect.
In the duet for Jnles and Sans Eegret in which
the latter in his desire to enlist a recruit, cun-
ningly offers money to the sorrowing, weary, and
hungry hero, a portion of the words run thus : —
" Jules. — My heart's with anguish wasted,
Sans E. — Fresh hearts this will supply ;
JtiLES. — My lips have nothing tasted.
Sans E. — 'Twill wine the brightest bny,
And caf& in plenty are nigh."
Bunn's poem requires the word caffe to be in
■one syllable only, and Balfe has so set it, and has
further shown his contempt for Bunn's inspiration
by making the first two words of the last line in
anapaestic metre. He also places an accent on
the second syllable of the word " plenty." Despite
the tethers which hindered a high flight, the music
is good in all points required, that is to say in
dramatic effect, fitness for the voices engaged and
brightness of scoring. Balfe fully maintained his
reputation in this opera and increased his popu-
larity. The manager's confidence in his powers
enlarged with the approval of the public, and he
..selected a libretto by George Linley upon a sub-
ject taken from English history and entitled'
" Catherine Grey," which was produced on the an-
nirersary of the day which had witnessed the
triumph of " The Maid of Artois/' namely on the
27th May, 1837. Madame Malibran was no longer
able to help her friend Balfe by her incomparable
talents. She had died a sad and terrible death,
worn out by overwork and excitement in the
September of 1836. She had fulfilled her promise
to sing in one of Balfe's operas, and it was in one
only, " The Maid of Artois," the first and the last
original English opera she sang in Lond,on.
Tbe cast of "Catherine Grey" included Miss
Homer, who was considered to be the English Mali-
bran, and Mrs. Wood (Miss Paton), the former play-
ing Elizabeth and the latter Catherine. The natural
dispositions and artistic qualifications of each were
such as would have made a change of characters
the better for the singers and for the opera. Balfe
played the part of Lord Hertford at the request of
the manager, who had noted how successfully his
efforts proved with the public when one evening
he performed Michael in " The Siege of Eochelle "
when Phillips was absent from illness. It was on-
this occasion that Thackeray being in Planche's
box saw Balfe for the first time and made a
characteristic sketch of him which was copied and
printed in the " Recollections."
" Catherine Grey " had much charming music,
but yet it did not keep the stage for any length
of time. The rondo written for "The Siege of
Eoehelle " was introduced, and, as Balfe felt when
he wrote it, did not make all the effect a finale
should. Moreover the run was interrupted by the
illness of King William, which made all theatrical
business dull. The King died on the 20th of
June. At the end of June an English version of
" Norma," by Planchfe, was placed upon the stage
of Drury Lane with Madame Schroeder Devrient
as the priestess. She sang her part in the language
she was best used to ; " not a single word of Eng-
lish did she ever attempt to utter throughout the
performance." This also was soon withdrawn.
Bunn had, however, another glorious attraction
" for his dear patrons the public." This was an
adaptation of Fletcher's fine play of " Bonduca,"
also made by Planche. This was produced under
the title of " Caractacus." For this Balfe wrote a
Chorus of Bards, wldch was the only thing in the-
play which was applauded, the house being filled
at " half-price " the time the chorus occurred, by
ail audience who left the theatre as soon as the en-
core had been complied with.
With his usual hyperbole, Bunn, trusting to the-
attraction of a magnificent procession, had adver-
tised the play as a " blaze of triumph," but the
people did not come to the theatre to bask in its
Still ever ready to produce novelty, Bunn placed
a new opera by Balfe upon the stage with un-
paralleled magnificence. This was "Joan of
Arc," the words by Edward Fitzball. In it Balfe
aimed at a loftier and more ambitious style of
composition than that which he had attempted in
" Catherine Grey." The words were more poetical,.
and the " situations " more striking and dramatic.
The critics were just in their recognition of its
merits, and sanguine as to its success, but it was
"too high above the heads of the public, and
they did not care to crane their necks in a posi-
tion uncomfortable to themselves to admire beau-
ties beyond their comprehensioi;." That there
were beauties in the opera may be boldly asserted,
and the fact that some of the songs, namely,
"The Purple Corn Flower "and "The Peace of
the Valley," with " cornetta " obbligato, and
"Dear maid, when thou art sleeping," with violin
obbligato, are known to this day. The characters
were performed by Miss Eomer, Mrs. Anderson,
Miss Poole, Messrs. Guibilei, Seguin, Templeton,
and Balfe. The scenery was painted by Grieve
and his two sons.
The real cause of the want of interest propor-
tionate to its merit which the public took in
Balfe's opera may be referred to the production a
few weeks before of a play on the same subject
at Covent Garden Theatre, then under the manaige-
ment of Macready. The edge had been taken off
the appetite of the public, and the opera which
was earliest begun, and latest to be brought out
was presumed to be an afterthought arising out of
the success of the earliest produced. There was
nothing in common between the play and the
opera except the title. The opera was published
and dedicated to Queen Victoria.
At Covent Garden also, the opera, " Amilie, or
the Love Test," by Balfe's early instructor Eooke,
was winning great favour. It was said to have
been completed while Balfe was yet his pupil, and
that he had waited patiently for nearly twenty
years to gain a hearing for his work.
Balfe's chief occupation in his leisure hours at this
time was the composition of another new opera
with words by Eitzball. It was announced as an
" opera buffa " entitled " Diadeste," and was pro-
duced on the 17th May, 1838. The performers were
Miss Romer,Miss Fanny Healy, Miss Poole, Messrs.
Templeton, Guibilei, and Henry Phillips. The
composer had a brilliant reception from the au-
dience, and when during the run of the opera
Phillips was taken ill and could not sing, or had
taken some other engagement and sung elsewhere,
the ever-ready Balfe, not to stop the opera in
its career of success, played the part of Count
Steno so well that Bunn was inclined to cancel the
engagement of the original exponent of the part.
Balfe had been happy enough to have made a
distinguished name among his countrymen as a
singer and composer of English opera. He had
entered so thoroughly into the spirit of the thing
that lie had created a new style, to describe which
a new adjectire to the English tongue had been
added. He had shown his facility and variety of
resources, his originality and power, by the pro-
duction of three new operas in the space of one
year. His fame had spread beyond the walls of
Drury Lane, and he was now invited by M. La-
porte to write an opera for Her Majesty's Theatre,
then one of the most important houses for Italian
opera in the world.
From this time Balfe gradually gave up singing
in public to devote his time to composition. The
public lost in one respect to gain greatly in another.
Malibran, Grisi, Tamburini, and Lablache were
wont to say that they found always much to admire,
and not a few hints were to be gained in and
from Balfe's singing. Eubini, who was considered
the greatest male singer of this time, always said
that " he must take off his hat to Balfe as his
superior." As his health was never strong, and as
his music was well received, he cultivated the
more enduring art, and so he preferred the per-
suit which was of greater service to the public.
On the moming after the first performance of
"Diadeste" Balfe received the libretto of an
Italian opei'a by Manfredo Maggione, founded
upon Shakespeare's " Merry Wives of Windsor,"^
and entitled " Falstaff." The chief parts were
to be undertaken by Grisi, Persian!, Albertazzi^
Eubini, Tamburini, and Lablache, artists for ever
memorable in the annals of operatic art. The
opera was actually conceived, written, and pro-
duced within the short space of two months. If
this had represented the sole work of the period
no astonishment need be expressed. But Balfe
possessed a power of concentration, a faculty for
work, and an untiring industry rarely found in.
one man. He seemed to be always busy with
various engagements, but still he found time for
composition. He was much sought after as a
singer, as a player, and as a teacher. All the
time left him for composition was during the " wee
short hours ayont the twal," Night after night
did he labour at his work quietly and earnestly,
making time when he seemed to have filled up
every hour. Thus it was that the new Italian
opera was produced. It was " the first opera
written for that establishment by a native composer
since the ' Olympiade ' of Arne." " Falstaff " was
produced under the direction of Laporte at Her
Majesty's Theatre on the 19th July, 1838, and
achieved a most brilliant success. The invention,,
the fancy, and the air of jioetry which surrounded
and pervaded the whole conception charmed
every one. The performers were all well disposed
towards the composer, and exerted themselves
cordially. The music suited their powers. " They
were fitted," as Lablache the Falstaff said,
" like gloves. The elegance of the manufacture
had concealed the natural defects of the hands
they covered." The trio, "Vorrei Parlar," sung
by Grisi, Albertazzi, and Caremoli (for Persiani
did not sing in the opera), was encored three
times, and although it was written more than
forty years ago, and was "only destined to-
please the ears of a thoughtless audience, fasci-^
nated by the success of the young composer,
so long as the three graces — Albertazzi, Caremoli,
and Grisi — could combine to sing it," it still finds
its way into programmes, and still delights the
public ear. The melody, " mia gioia," spread
like wildfire, but fell " like balm upon the wearied
senses," and is not even now forgotten. Personal
influence can have little now to do with such con-
tinued popularity, for singers and composers have
all passed into " the land of the blest." It must
therefore be due to the worth of the music and
the genius of the composer that it is still
remembered in this " age of succeeding
iime." Laporte was right when he invited
Balfe to write an opera for the great quartett,
Grisi, Eubini, Tamburini, and Lablache. His
keen judgment and knowledge of men, his readi-
ness and willingness to provide his subscribers and
the public with the sort of entertainment well
calculated to please, and his desire to advance the
interests of art, were all exhibited in his selection
of Balfe as a composer, albeit he was an English
Rossini had laid down his pen, and had de-
clared his intention of writing no more until tte
" Jews had finished their Sahbath," a phrase whose
obscurity of meaning cannot be penetrated even
now. Its purport is fully understood, for Eossini's
pen was at rest. Balfe had been called the Eng-
lish Rossini over and over again, less because he
wrote in the style of that great master than be-
cause of his aptitude in " finding out musical
tunes " that fell pleasantly upon the ear and
awakened sympathetic feelings in the heart.
Laporte could not get Eossini, so he secured
Troubles were already shadowing over th&
manager of the Italian Opera, and prevented him
fulfilling his intention of inviting Balfe to make a
second venture in the classic region of foreign art.
The time was not allowed to pass idly by.
Song after song was poured forth from the same
inexhaustible stream from whence the greater
tributaries of opera had flowed, and popularity and
success were following and surrounding the gifted
and genial musician. His house in Conduit Street
was the scene of many a brilliant reunion of
artists and amateurs, Eossini's " Stabat Mater "
"being among the many new works that were first
heard in Balfe's house in 1841.
He continued his engagement as a member of
the Drury Lane Company, but it was Bonn's last
season for the present. His extravagant ventures
had brought him no lasting profit, and he was
at his final resource. He knew that English
opera had brought him most gain, so he con-
cluded that opera in English might reillumine
the " blaze of triumph." With this ob-
ject in view he engaged Henry Rowley Bishop
as conductor,and brought out Mozart's "Don Juan"
with Balfe as the hero, and Madame Albertazzi,
Miss Betts, Miss Poole, and Henry Phillips in the
other parts. Unfortunately for Bunn, the season
came to an untimely end. He had educated the
people to expect spectacle on the grandest scale in
all his productions. There was no reason, and no
possibility of, introducing any in "Don Juan," so
he adopted an entirely opposite plan. The mise
en scene was poor in the extreme, and notwith-
standing his fine band, and excellent vocal com-
pany, the theatre was empty, and Bunn retired
-with a loss of more than £25,000.
Balfe now, free from all ties of engagements,
l)umed to revisit his native land. He was pre-
paring to start for Dublin on a journey of plea-
sure, when good fortune once more presented itself
in a form calculated to mate the journey pleasant
,as one of business. This was an offer of an en-
gagement as chief baritone to the company
formed by Mr. and Mrs. Wood at the request of
Mr. Calcraft, then manager of the Theatre Eoyal
in Dublin. The engagement was accepted, and
Balfe started with a light heart and high spirits
for the land he had left some sixteen years before.
Since then what changes had occurred. Would
iis mother be glad to welcome her son ? He had
kept his word, and was returning not unheralded
by fame. Would his countrymen remember the
poor little fiddler who had delighted them with
his performance on an instrument as big as him-
His welcome was as hearty as he could wish.
It was just such as he would have accorded had
the conditions been reversed.
A public dinner was given to him at Morison's
Hotel on the 26th of December, 1838, and a tes-
timonial in the form of a beautiful gold snuff-box,
"To the composer of 'The Siege of Eochelle'
and ' The Maid of Artois.' "
During his stay in Dublin Balfe was admitted to
the mysteries and privileges of ancient free and
accepted masons, a special meeting of the brethren
of JN'o. 8 Lodge having been called together for
the purpose on the 3rd of October, 1838.
In the following year Mr. Calcraft pro-
duced "The Siege of Eochelle," "The Maid
of Artois," and " Diadeste," with Adelaide
Kemble as prima donna. Balfe organised a tour,
and produced " Diadeste " in several of the
county towns, Limerick and Galway among
Accustomed to the greatest theatres in Europe,
he was a little " taken aback " at the condition
of some of the country temples of Thespis and
their stage appointments. Thus at the Old Theatre
at the Quay at Limerick, when the performers
assembled for the night's representation, the roof
was in so dilapidated a state that the audience in
the pit had to put up their umbrellas to keep the
rain off. The orchestra, led by Levey, Balfe's old
friend and fellow-pupil, had to play while pro-
tected by like contrivances. The stage, fortu-
nately for the comfort of the singers, was in better
condition. The performance was welcomed with
the heartiest applause. The audience remained
enchanted despite the inconvenience they suffered.
Balfe, when telling the story, was wont to declare
that it was the first and only alfresco representa-
tion he had given in his life, and he felt prompted
to substitute certain words in his well-known
beautiful duet, so as to make it sing thus : —
Diadeeto, cbarming maid,
Sing beneath th' ambrella's shade.
The tour in Ireland was profitable to the mana-
gers, and it was in pondering over the results of
the adventure that Balfe unadvisedly determined
to try that line of business on his own account.
Since the production of "Diadeste" Balfe had
written no opera. Rooke had produced his
"Henrique, or the Lore Pilgrim/' in May, 1839,
while Balfe was away in Dublin, and when he re-
turned he heard that the brothers Barnett had
arranged a scheme for the production of English
opera at the Prince's, now called the St. James's
Theatre. This venture was commenced on the 1st
December, 1840, with Prank Eomer's opera, " Pri-
dolin," and ended on the 8th of the same month.
The failure did not deter the enthusiastic Balfe
from pursuing the scheme he had cherished in his
heart. He arranged to take the English Opera
House, and was happy in being supported, as was
said, by a goodly list of subscribers, at the head of
which was the Queen, the Prince Albert, and
many of the nobility. His company was small,
but in every way efficient. If everybody was to
he trusted, and would behave as loyally as the new
manager intended to do, success must follow.
His name stood well with the public, and he had
prepared a new opera, " Keolanthe," which had
been written by his old friend and coUeag-ue Fitz-
ball. Upon this opera he had bestowed a greater
amount of care and attention than he had ever
yet spent upon any work since " Atala," which
The book was perfectly original, and inspired
the composer with " thoughts meet and deeds be-
The plot, also the invention of Fitzball, may be
thus told. A student of Padua, Andrea, about to be
married to the sister of his friend, Filippo Pavia,
contemplating the beauty of the lotus flower, of
which he has been reading, is transported in
imagination to the shores of ancient Egypt, and
beholds Keolanthe, an Egyptian princess, who is
protected and endowed with magical gifts by the
deities of the Nile. Every tie is forgotten in this
insane love ; he is the means of causing terrible
catastrophes by his employment of the magic lotus
flower, and when his crimes can no longer accu-
mulate in horror, te awakes to find all a dreamy,
and the bridal party filling his room to welcome'
him upon his wedding morning.
The greater part of the music of the opera was
written hj Balfe when on a tour in the west of
England during the months of April, May, and
part of June, 1840. He seemed fascinated with
the hook which Titzball had written, and at
every possible opportunity he resumed his labours
upon a theme which was agreeable to him.
The poet and the musician were in perfect
sympathy in this instance.
Fitzball calls the opera "one of my dream-
revels with imagination — a flight across golden
deserts with the Queen of Fancy."
In speaking further of the work, and the circum-
stances under which it was written, he says : —
" ' Keolanthe ' is unquestionably the best of Balfe 's
operas, that is to say his finest original conception,,
and advances nearer to the stars." Keolanthe, the
heroine, was played by Madame Balfe. Of her
performance Fitzball tells us "that the dignity of
the princess was nothing lost in her ; the splen-
dour of her voice, the richness of her attire, the-
tfinenesSj the grandeur of her acting (she was a
great actress, realizing to my imagination all that
I had heard related of Clairon), the supernatural
manner which she assumed, took every one hy sur-
prise, while her deep-thought conception of the
part seemed to set every one thinking. . . Wilson,
a fine tenor, was the student Andreo, Sfcretton and
H. Phillips, Filippo and Ombrastro, and Miss
Gould, Pavina. The opera cost, in the getting up
with its exquisite costumes and scenery, much
more than a thousand pounds ; it certainly had a
tremendous reception ; the stage covered over
with wreaths of flowers, among which stood
Madame Balfe, like Iris, with her offerings of
garland lotuses at her feet."
The opera was announced for the 4th of
March, 1841, but was postponed because of the
absence of Phillips, who had made an engagement
to sing that day in Dublin without saying any-
thing about it until the last moment. On the 9th
"the opera was produced, and made a hit. The
music was acknowledged to be in Balfe's happiest
vein. It was also admitted to be original, and
iree from imitation of the style of any particular
school. It was, in fact, thoroughly " Balfean."
It ran for two months, and its successful career
was brought to an end by the disloyalty of the
artists. On the 18th of May Phillips failed to-
make his appearance in the theatre, and offered
no explanation. He does not allude to the circum-
stance in his "Musical and Personal EecoUec-
tions," nor, in fact, say much about the whole
business in his book. Mr. John Barnett withdrew
his pupil. Miss Gould, and Balfe, in an apologetic
speech to the audience, explained how he had
been abandoned by those on whom he counted for
So ended the great and enthusiastic design of
founding a national English opera. In this
great notion Balfe was before his time, and more-
over he was not the right sort of man to under-
take such a scheme. He thought to create a
national opera by inviting all the known English
opera writers to compose works, and thus to show
the public that there were as good musicians
among the natives of the country worthy of
support as the foreigner, upon whom was lavished-
all the praise, and who also obtained the greater
share of recognition. Barnett, Eooke, Lover, and
Macfarren were invited to co-operate. Lover liad
■written a comic operetta called " Paddy Whack in
Italia," which Balfe produced. Macfarren had
been invited by Balfe to compose an opera on the
subject of " Don Quixote." This was placed in
rehearsal, and would have been brought out but
for the untimely end of the scheme. Five years
later Balfe, knowing the excellent qualities of
the work, recommended it for production at Drury
Lane, which recommendation was accepted, and
the opera was performed successfully. Barnett
was said " to be thinking about his opera," and
Benedict had actually commenced his " Brides of
Venice." This also was brought out later at Drury
It could not, therefore, be said that Balfe had
. any selfish motive in endeavouring to start the
enterprise. On the contrary, his conduct in the
whole matter was most self-denying. He refused
300 guineas offered by Madame Yestris for the
production of " Keolanthe " at the Olympic, and
he lost more than a thousand pounds besides,
which had been expended in trying to fill the^
whirlpool maw of a theatre. He had risked his
popularity with the profession, and he had lost
his health. Even under these trying circumstances
he preserved his good humoar, remaining then as
he was always, genial, bright, and sunny. The
chagrin he suffered induced him to turn his back
upon London, and to confine his publications to a
few detached pieces of the sort which the pub-
lishers were always ready to take. These costing
his genius no effort, and being very useful in re-
plenishing a weakened purse, he was wont to
call " pot-boilers," a term which to this day is
employed by his successors for the like kind of
He longed to find some theme more worthy of
his efforts than the production of songs, albeit
the public gladly received these instalments of his
talents. It was therefore with no little ardour
that he started for Paris as soon as he could get
free, upon the invitation of Madame Grisi, who
was anxious to appear in another opera by Balfe,
for which she proposed to provide the libretto.
She — the reigning queen of the operatic world — ■
-could command, and managers were willing to
- obey. The memory of "Falstaff " was pleasant. She
delighted in the music, and had selected the opera
to play at her benefit at Her Majesty's Theatre, and
had been the means of introducing many of its
morceaux to the concert-rooms of the Continent.
Arrived at Paris, one of his first calls was upon
Rossini. The maestro gave Balfe a hearty wel-
come. He had heard of the treatment he had ex-
perienced, and was very indignant at the lack of
appreciation which his countrymen had exhibited
towards him. He shook his fist in the air, and
said in the hearing of a friend when Balfe had
left, addressing an imaginary English audience in
his epigrammatic French —
" Vous etes des betes, des animaux. You have
got one of the greatest composers of the age, who
has poured forth his soul in melody for you, and
you would not have him. He deserved all honour ;
you have given him contempt. Cochons d" Anglais,
" Keolanthe " was Balfe's best work at that
time, and was only surpassed in merit by the
"Knight of the Leopard," or "The Talisman,"
wbich he left unfinished at his death.
The title -which was selected for the proposed new
opera was " Elfrida," the author being Manfreda
Maggioni. Balfe made a series of sketches and
rough memoranda of the chief situations and
arias in the remarkably neat hand he wrote at
that period — the sketch-book is preserved — and
upon his arrival in Paris he set himself to work
with his customary zeal. The opera was nearly
completed, and he was in expectation of some
degree of success, especially in those parts of the
work which he had written to suit Madame Grisi's
voice. Preliminary paragraphs concerning the
opera were inserted in the musical papers, and
Balfe, "the Auber of England," another hew
title, was said to have come expressly to Paris to
superintend the rehearsals of his grand opera in
three acts, of which the chief parts were destined
for G-risi, Tamburini, and Mario, then engaged at
the Theatre Italien.
The opera was not produced. By the time it
would be finished, and the arrangements of the
theatre would permit of its being placed upon the-
stage, Grisi would be unable to appear, and so
the cup of prosperity which was raised to the lips
of the expectant artist was dashed to the ground.
Balfe's good fortune seemed to have completely
deserted him. He kept a brave heart, however,.
though the situation was a sore trial to him.
His sensitive soul shrank from the contempla-
tion of the collapse into which his affairs appeared
to Lave fallen, but his brave spirit supported him
through the trialj and enabled him to keep his
sorrows to himself, and to preserve the same
bright and joyous demeanour which had earned
for him from his friend Titzball the name of
" Sunny Balfe."
It was with inward doubt and anguish but with
outward calmness that he called upon Erard and
disclosed the state of anxiety which troubled him.
Erard offered to lend his Salon to the composer,,
and suggested that he should give a concert, the
programme of which should be made up entirely
of his own music.
Balfe was alarmed yet amused at the daring
proposition, feared lest he should provoke all sorts
of sarcastic comments upon his egotistical pre-
sumption, but all his objections were overruled,
by Erard, who said — " Much is already known of
your works here. I will invite the Manager of the
Opera Comique and other artists to hear your
music." The consequence was that a "Grand
Concert Balfe " was announced. Among the artists
"who " assisted " was George Alexander Osborne,
then resident in Paris.
The room was crowded with curious visitors
who had paid their money to be amused at the
performance. Balfe^s association with the artists
of Paris twelve years before had left him many
friends. He was able to ensure a very good re-
presentation of his works with the aid which was
voluntarily offered. Inspired by Balfe's geniality
and talent the artists strove to do their best, and
■succeeded. Those who came to be amused at
the rashness of a man who had compounded a
programme of his own compositions, and that
man above all an Englishman, were disappointed
of the pleasure they had anticipated, and re-
BALFE. 3 41
warded by another they did not expect to find..
Piece after piece was encored with enthusiasm,.
and the gratified composer felt his heart swell
with pride as the most fastidious audience in
the world accepted his efPorts with signs of the
highest approTal. " His music was sparkling,
and flashed like a splendid brilliant that gives
out radiant colours from a thousand facets, and
astonishes and captivates by its beauty."*
His mind relieved of an oppressive weight, full
of gratitude to Erard and the good Parisians who
had so enthusiastically recognised his genius, the-
glooray clouds of anxiety dispersed from his mind
and sunshine once more reigning in his heart, his
face radiant with joy, he returned home to share his
happiness with his family. Wearied in body but
sprightly in mind, he threw himself upon a sof .i
prepared to answer any questions that might be
addressed to him, amused and delighted with the
gravity and consideration of his eldest daughter,
Gigia, as she directed the servant in her pretty
polyglot manner —
* "Sa musiqae est chatoyante, elle resplendit comme nua-
pierre fine et montre mille faoettes que fimerveillent efc
"Of papa les pantoufles bringen sie hier al-
The " Concert Balfe " had established his repu-
tation in Paris, and was further to be the means of
■extending it not only in the French capital, but
throughout the Continent.
Early in the morning of the day following when
Balfe was seated at his breakfast " k I' Anglaise "
a mysterious visitor cloaked and carefully wrapped
up as though the winter had already appeared
was announced. He had refused to give his name,
but would not leave until he had seen Balfe,
" Vous etes Balfe, je suis Scribe, et je viens tous
demander de faire uu opera comique avec moi."
The announcement, so welcome, so unexpected,
caused a revulsion of feeling which made Balfe
literally tremble with excitement. He soon re-
covered himself, and accepted the proposal of the
dramatic writer with joy. Scribe confessed that
he was one among the many present at the invi-
tation of Erard to hear his music at the concert
of the day before. He was charmed with the exhi-
bition and versatility of Balfe's genius, and desired
to associate his name with that of the musician
wtose works had given Mm so much real plea-
This unsolicited testimony to his abilities from
one whose fame was unequalled in the world of
art, whose industry was enormous, and whose
fertility was prodigious, was very gratifying to
A satisfactory arrangement was made, and
Balfe's spirits were elevated to a height corres-
ponding with the depth to which they had been
plunged a day or so before. After all he was to be
permitted to appeal to the judgment of the
Parisians in a form best suited to display his
The opera was called " Le Puits d' Amour " the
scenario or plot was sketched out at once, and
the libretto was sent piece by piece, either in the
handwriting of Scribe, or in that of M. de Saint-
Georges, his literary partner on this occasion.
Balfe remembered that Rossini, Boieldieu,
Adolphe Adam, Auber, Meyerbeer, Hal^vy,
'S.evold, Carafa, and his old master Cherubini had
all been indebted to Scribe for occasional literary
ielp, and with such an illustrious array before
Mm, it was witli some diffidence that he entered
the ranks of the noble army of artists. If he-
could not rise by promotion to a higher position
than that which now presented itself, he would,-
at all events, strive to do his duty there, and
deserve an honourable name.
With the ardour and confidence of genius he
worked on, encouraged by his loving wife who-
kept from him all knowledge of the sarcastic
comments that were imported into the musicul
journals upon the announcement of the fact that
an English composer was engaged in writing an
opera for the Opera Coraique.
This pious concealment was easily made, for
Balfe was called away from Paris before the com-
pletion of his opera, to fulfil an engagement at
the Norwich festival in September of that year
(1842), and at other places in England.
His engagements being ended, he returned to
Paris and finished his opera.
It was produced on the 20th of April, 1843, at
the Opera Comique. The verdict of the public
was unanimously accorded in favour of the music
Madame Anna Thillon, then in all the pride of
her youth and beauty, sang Greraldine's music so
that it was compared to " a fountain of pearls. "
The composer's genius was fully recognised.
Those who had been foremost in their unbelief
in his powers were the first to express their re-
cantation and their fall conversion. As a comfort
to their own consciences they remembered that he
had studied with Cherubini, that he had earned
his first honours as a singer and as a composer at
the Theatre Italien, they were therefore not un-
willing to assure themselves that he was all but a
Frenchman. He was distantly related by blood to
the common Celtic stock. He was more closely
allied by the ties of art.
Congratulations upon his success poured in on
all sides. Musicians, poets, critics and artists
were proud to know and to be known by him.
His acquaintance extended itself from the world
of art to the domain of politics and fashion, and
he even received encouragement and countenance
from the King Louis Philippe, the source and
spring of honour. The Xing was pleased to
accept the dedication of the published work, and
expressed his desire when further success was won
from the public, to decorate him with the cordon
of the legion of honour. He could not then accept
this distinction as an Englishman, and so the King
presented him with a magnificent " gold medal "
struck especially for him. All these marks of re-
cognition were sweet to Balfe. Sweeter far was
the invitation from the director of the Op^ra
Comique to follow up the success of " Le. Puits
d' Amour" by the production of another opera,
which should be ready to take the stage when the
first began to pale in its popularity. This event
was apparently far distant. Nevertheless he com-
menced the new task with assiduity. The author
of his first French book, Scribe, was not ready
with another. He was gratified to know that he
had been the means of finding for his countrymen
a new pleasure, and enjoyed the success of Balfe
as much as the public.
The book upon which he was now engaged, was
founded upon an old French legend of "the time of
Charlemagne, was called " Les Quatre Fils
Aymon," and the authors were Messrs. de Leuwen
Before this was completed and produced, Balfe
was called to London, where a new day of pros-
perity was dawning for him — a day whose rays
of sunshine were to cheer and enlighten ihe re-
mainder of his path through life, undimmed by
the passing clouds of adversity, vexation or
At the beginning of the year 1843, musical affairs-
in London were in a transitional s>tate. Public
attention had been drawn to the need of including
music in the course of elementary instruction in
schools, and the Committee of the Council of~
Education encouraged Mr. John HuUah to arrange
classes, and to formulate a plan by which future-
schoolmasters should have the advantage of a
certain amount of regular training. Those already
engaged in teaching should also be permitted to
acquire the knowledge necessary to place them--,
selves on a level with their younger brethren.
The enthusiasm with which the subject was
taken up testified to the. eager desires of the people
to mate themselves more closely acquainted with
a subject for which they had already shown an,
earnest though unscientific predilection.
Prom this time forth music was no longer to be
a mystery whose culture was confined, to a few..
All who learned the rudiments of the art might
never hope to become composers. But they would
'he in possession of a nucleus of information which
should help them to enjoy with greater delight
the efforts of those who were.
Hullah's teaching created intelligent audiences.
Music, hitherto enjoyed for the mere sesthetical
pleasure it brought, was certain to be better
•appreciated so soon as the power was given to the
people to estimate correctly the talent required in
>the construction of the material. An acquaintance
with the difficulties involved certainly excited
respect for the artist who could successfully con-
quer those difficulties, and who by a right use of
art was able to conceal the art employed. No one
hailed this movement with greater delight than
Balfe. He saw in it the prospect of a realization
of the most earnestly cherished wish of his heart,
;the establishment of a national opera.
It is true that genius like the poet is born, not
tmade, but it is equally true that the possession of
genius in the individual may be traced to the pre-
disposition for a certain subject in the family to
!which he belongs. There is no instance on record
of a man attaining eminence in tte mnsical prO"
fession nnsupported by phe fact tEat the liking'
for the art was not congenital. The English'
have always been a music-loving people, they
vronld, in time, become music-producing, if music-
was encouraged as- an essential need of education.
Thus the first step towards the realization of this
great project, a national English opera, would be
gained. The cultivation of music among the
people would suggest the formation of a national
academy, upon a similar but broader basis than
that upon which the Eoyal Academy was founded-
This national academy would generate a race of
musicians, and it would become necessary in time,
to establish a theatre or opera house whereat and
wherein the efforts of native composers might be
tried before an appreciative jury of their country-
Balfe thought when he started his ill-fated ven-
ture that he had the help of enough composers to
enable him to continue hi^ scheme. The only one'
who had foresight and wisdom enough to help and
actively to encourage it, was George" Alexander'
Macfarren. The other composers of the period
gave only a half-hearted assistance. The time
for the recognition of English, art as an actuality-
was not come.
Balfe thought it had, and with his customary-
enthusiasm hastened to realize the end when the
beginning only was before him. His reasoning
was too sanguine. If in France such a thing as a
national opera can exist, why cannot wealthy
England support a like design ?
France had been prepared through a long course
of years, through all sorts of convulsions, to main-
tain an undertaking of the kind as a matter of
political economy. Some of its children made
music a profession. It was therefore necessary
that the means of instruction as well as an area
for practice should be provided. This done, France
has never lacked miisicians either executive or
creative. The genius exhibited by some has been
recognised beyond her own boundaries. The talents
of the many have not been despised, but have been
restricted to their original limit. The moral effect
of this has been most salutary.
The honours of the Academy of France, and the
favours of the highest potentates were rewards to
which all might aspire.
In England there were no honours which might
be gained, except such empty titles as were open
to the full purse. A musician was only " a fiddler,"
having no means of acquiring education under the
protection of the Government, possessed of no
social status by virtue of his profession, harassed
rather by prejudices against it, and condemned by
the State to be classed among " rogues, vagabonds,
and sturdy beggars."
Only a man of great genius, supported by
determined will and an ardent belief in the
humanising influence of the art he professed, could
ever hope to rise to superior rank, and that only in
the estimation of his countrymen, his sole reward.
The seed sown by this movement for a time might
grow among tares, but they would not destroy its
vitality, or lessen the abundance of the harvest in
good time. The provision of musical teaching,
and the ultimate elevation of native genius to the
position it ought to occupy, was undoubtedly due
to the lively interest and actual exertions of one
•of the wisest princes of modern times, tlie late
He noted the great love for music which the
English nation possessed, and laid out a plan by
which that predisposition might be strengthened
by scientific knowledge. Skilled in the art and
practice of music himself, his large-heartedness
and broad-mindedness conceived a design which
should tend to the augmentation of the pure
pleasures of music, especially to those who can
recognise the skill employed in the inyention of
For Balfe as an acknowledged national com-
poser he always expressed the most lively interest.
He adnxired his genius greatly, and claimed
admiration for it from others.
If ever England takes proper rank among the
musical countries of the world, it will be due to
the forethought of this great prince in the project
for providing the means of musical instruction for
Balfe heard of the progress of the movement
while he was yet abroad. He longed to have some
share in the work. With his customary alacrity
1 54 BALFB.
he accepted an invitation to return to London,
and hastened thither to superintend the final
rehearsals of " Geraldine," the English version of
" Le Puits d' Amour/' by Gilbert a Beckett, at the
Princess's Theatre in the month of August. The
performers were Mdlle. Eugenie Garcia (a cousin
of Malibran), George Barker, H. R. Allen, and
Paul Bedford. He also undertook to write another
opera for Drury Lane, which theatre Bunn had
again taken undismayed by his former disastrous
The opera intended for Drury Lane was the-
world-famed "Bohemian Girl." The book had
been given to Balfe by Bunn in 1841, soon after
the production of " Keolanthe." A greater part
of the music had been written at the time, and
Balfe, finding subsequently little chance of its
being produced after the collapse of his great
national opera scheme, had taken some one or two
numbers of the music for his French opera. He
rewrote those portions which had been employed
there, and revised those that still remained. Like
most earnest and enthusiastic souls, he became
alive to the necessity of bestowing greater care
upon his works in proportion as he felt that he
was attaining an eminence which exposed him
more completely to view than he had been before.
Impressed with this thought, he added and im-
proved the score of " The Siege of Eochelle " when
it was decided to open the theatre with that opera.
Every care was taken with the mise en scene, for
Bunn knew the value of an adequate mounting as
a factor of the sum of success. A splendid band
was engaged, and the services of Mr. — now Sir
Julius — Benedict were secured as conductor. The
success of the opening nights exceeded the most
sanguine expectations. After Balfe^s opera, an
English version, by Eitzball, of Donizetti's " La
Favorita," was presented, with Duprez in his
original part. " The Bohemian Girl " was " under-
lined," as it is called ; that is to say, mention was
made of the proposed production at the bottom of
the play-bill which contained the announcement
of the current performances.
The "libretto" of " The Bohemian Girl " was
founded upon the same story out of the " Novelas.'
Esemplares" of Cervantes which had furnished
Weber with his "Preciosa." This it is probable
Bunn never knew until he was informed by soipe
of the press writers after the performance. He
ihad taken the idea from a ballet written by Saint
Georges, the literary collaborateur of Scribe in the
■concoction of the book of "Le Puits d'Amour."
This ballet, entitled " La Gipsy/' in three acts and
five tableaux was produced in the Grand Opera in
Paris on the 28th of January, 1839. The music of
ihe first act was written by M. Benoist, that of
the second by Ambroise Thomas, and that of the
third by the Marquis Marliani. M. Gustavo
Chouquet, in his comprehensive, careful, and
interesting " Histoire de la Musique Dramatique,"
Paris, 1873, says that " the second act, composed
■of three tableaux, was afterwards given separately.
M. Thomas had been indebted to his memory of
Beethoven, Weber, Hummel, and Schubert for the
melodies of many of his themes, but had displayed
a master hand in the richness of the scoring."
Bunn proposed one or two titles for the opera.
That of " The Gipsy " was overruled, inasmuch as
it had already served as the distinction for an
unsuccessful transpontine drama. He then thought
■of " Thaddeus of Warsaw," the name of that hero
being taken by him from Miss Jane Porter's novel
"which was well known, and, to Bunn's mind, served
as a typical Polish name. The possibility of his-
opera being mistaken for an adaptation of the
popular novel caused him to change his mind.,
" La Bohemienne " was next proposed. This was
rejected on the ground that it would be un-
becoming for an English opera to bear a French
title. Our native tongue not making any distinc-
tion of sex in words by a series of accommodating
modifications, such as are found in all other
European languages, was an obstacle which stood
in the way of " The Bohemian " as a title,
for this name might apply to creature of
the male sex, and the chief character was a girl.
Hence " The Bohemian Girl." Clumsy as this
title appears upon reflection, time and circum-
stances have proved it to be efELcient. The word
" Bohemian " has since become recognised aa
describing a being with a profound contempt for
the restraints of society, and one whose object in life
seems to be to live in a perpetual state of picnic in
a garret or like habitation.
"The Bohemian Girl" was produced on the
27th of November, 1843. Miss Rainforth was
Arline, Miss Betts the Queen of the Gipsies, Mr.
Harrison, then rising into fame as a tenor singer,
was Thaddeus, Mr. Stretton, Devilshoof, Mr.
Borrani the Count, and Mr. Daruset, Florestein.
The lesser parts were represented by Mr. Howell,
Captain ; Mr. Binge, Officer ; Messrs. Birt and
Eidgway, the first and second Gipsies ; and the
Child in the first act was played by Miss Payne,
who afterwards became Mrs. Aynsley Cook.
The first night the audience seemed to be almost
mad with enthusiasm. The chorus "In the gipsy^s
life " was encored, " I dreamt that I dwelt in
marble halls " and " Then you'll remember me "
were twice repeated, and "The heart bowed
down " was also encored, and the singers secured
Fitzball, who was present at the performance,
tells us that Bunn was exceedingly iU during the
rehearsals of this opera, but yet he gave his direc-
tions with a disregard of his bodily sufferings
which amounted to heroism. He further says that
the opera met with the most unqualified success.
The Messrs. Chappell gave Balfe £500 for the
right of printing and publishing the songs, and
so great was the demand for copies of the several
ballads that they saw their way to the realization
of their outlay in a very short time.
It is a fact, however, that for a few nights after
the first the opera did not draw. The audiences
that came never slackened their enthusiasm, but it
was not until nearly a fortnight had passed that
anything like adequate houses rewarded the ven-
ture. In consequence of this Balfe left London
for Paris, where he had other business in hand,
and not long after the aspect of affairs completely
changed at Drury Lane. The houses, from being
indifferent, sometimes worse than indifferent,
became gradually fuller, till at last the crowded
state of the theatre which had always been con-
nected with Balfean opera began to show a
brilliant pecuniary as well as artistic success.
Thereupon Bunn wrote to Balfe to this purport :
" Come back to London. ' The Bohemian Girl ' is
a triumph. Houses crammed every night." And
so it went on till the hundredth night.
The success of the opera and its influence on
society were unparalleled. Everything was tinged
with a gipsy complexion. How mucli and how
Httle was owing to the influence of " The Bohemian
Girl " may be readily nuderstood. Certain it is
that scores of songs relative to gipsy life were
issued from the press. NoTelists wrote stories in
which were revived the old worked-ap incidents,
connected with the wandering tribe. Readers
began to inquire for George Borrow's book on the
'"Zincali," which had been issued two years
before, and his publishers were encouraged to
produce a new book by him in consequence of the
success of the first ; and, in short, the town was
gipsy-mad. The popularity of "The Bohemian
Girl " did not cease with the run of the opera in
London. Standigl, the well-remembered bass, the
original representative, three years later, of the
chief part in Mendelssohn's oratorio " Elijah '^
at Birmingham, produced it in a German
version, and so popular did it become in Ger-
many that it was played at three different
theatres in Vienna at the same time, and has
continued to hold a conspicuous place in the reper-
toires of German theatres under the title of " Die
Ziguenerinn" to the present day. As " La Zingara "
it has been played in Italy and in London, and in
Paris, as " La Boli6mienne," it was placed on the
stage of the Theatre Lyrique with a score and
splendour undreamed of even by Bunn.
The remarkable fact that Balfe was the first, and
until the present day, the only English composer
who was invited to write for the French stage,
was further supplemented by another, namely that
his first essay completely satisfied the demands of
Scribe, whose mysterious invitation was the com-
mencement of a long friendship, believed that a
prosperous career awaited Balfe in France. He
wrote for him a second book " Le Jour de Noel "
to help his belief become a tangible realization.
This opera, though nearly finished, was never pro-
duced, for reasons that will be set forth in due
While "The Bohemian Girl" was continuing
to attract large audiences in London, " Le Puits
d' Amour " was no less attractive in Paris, or in
its Enghsh form as " Greraldine " in London, at
the Princess's Theatre.
It was necessary that our composer should limit
the number of his engagements to sing at concerts
and elsewhere notwithstanding the tempting profits
his efforts brought, in order to be on the spot to
superintend the rehearsals of his new opera " Les
Quatre Fils Aymon " in Paris. Many and careful
were these rehearsals, and at last the opera was
brought out on the 15th of July, 1844.
The libretto was written by Messrs. de Leuwen
and Brunswick, and the principal soprano part was
intended for Madame AnnaThillon, who had made
so favourable an impression by her singing and
acting 'in "LesPuits d'Amour."
In this occurs the splendid bass song " Senti-
nelle" which at once struck the fancy of the
audience, established on a firmer basis the fame
of the composer, and attracted attention to the
character of the whole of the opera. The divine
light of melody which shone' in every bar was
augmented in the minds of the Parisian^critics by
the originality of the treatment throughout.
There was a little disappointment in Balfe's
heart when he found that he was not to have the
.services of Madame Anna Thillonin his opera, but
he was somewhat consoled when he found that
Madame Stolz was named as the prima donna..
This again was not to be. These changes delayed
the production of the work.
The cast as finally settled was a little -weak,
hut Balfe succeeded in winning commendation
from a Parisian audience a second time. The'
beauty of his music could be observed even
through the medium of an indifferent cast. The
prima donna was Madame Darcier, the tenor M.
Mocker, and M. Thermann was the bass. The
famous M. Chollet was also in the opera.
The French publishers issued full scores of the
two operas produced in Paris, and these with
"L'Etoile de Seville" were the only full scores
that were printed of the whole of Balfe's works,,
all the rest that were published were in the form
of pianoforte arrangements only. Musicians in
IVance and Germany took very kindly to these
works. In the latter country the " Liebesbrunnen,"
and the "Vier Salmon's Kinder," are prime
favourites to this day. The design and execution,
of the latter work so pleased the German critics.
that they said — "Its melodies are sweet, and the
•scoring masterly. Mozart might have signed
In the month of November in the same year
(1844) " The Castle of Aymon,'" the English version
of " Les Quatre Fils," was played at the Princess's
Theatre successfully, though the cast was as weak
in proportion as the original French one. Miss
Condell an inexperienced debutante, Henry Allen,
Charles Horn, a son of Balfe's old master and friend,
and Adam Leffler, were entrusted with the parts.
Balfe had now given up his house in the Rue
Lafitte, in Paris, and had come to reside perma-
nently in London, at No. 19, Piccadilly, where he
was wont to reside during his temporary sojourn
in town. This dwelling he made noteworthy, as it
was there he wrote the greater part of his immortal
opera " The Bohemian Girl," and other works of
In the years 1843 and 1844 it has been showa
that Balfe was by no means idle. He was yet to
-crown this period of activity by the production of
another opera, his friend and colleague Alfred
Bunn supplying the book. Once again did Bunn
seek a French original as the theme for his work.
he selected this time an opera which- Halevy had
set to music. Saint Georges again was the author
borrowed from, and the subject was " La Eeine-
de Chypre " which had been placed on the stage-
of the Grand Opera in Paris the 22nd of Decem-
ber, 1841. Btinn gave his new work the title of
" The Da,ughter of St. Mark,." and placed it on the
stage on the 27th of November, 1844.
The diction of his book was made the subject of
sarcastic attacks on the part of the comic press.,
It was in many instances very absurd, it is true,.
and resembled the " monstre " which French
libretto writers were wont to offer to composers
who required a peculiar rhythm for which the-
poets were unprepared with ideas in conformity
with the subject treated. In several cases they
were the nonsense verses of the schoolboy with a
catch-phrase that served to illustrate the senti-
ment of the scene. Without any desire to con-
tinue or to revive the controversy excited — there
was a controversy on this ridiculous subject — it
must be said that Bunn never stayed for a rhyme
when he wanted one. If his rhymes were such as
could not possibly complete a sentence in a. distich.
or quatrain he continiied the idea through half
the next line. In the "Bohemian Girl" among
other gems of expression we find —
When the fair land of Poland was ploughed by the hoof
Of the ruthless invader. When might
With steel to the bosom, and flame to the roof,
Completed her triumph o'er right.
His imagery was often incomprehensible, as for
example, that which is seen in one of his lines in
the same opera —
When hollow hearts shall wear a mask.
Other instances might be quoted were it worth
the trouble. Among other of his peculiarities was
that of inventing words to eke out his rhymes.
" Beweep " is a word that has not yet found its
way even into those English dictionaries the com-
pilers of which boast of having made ten thousand
additional words " as an attraction. Of like nature,
the directors of Vauxhall Gardens were wont in
the days of their waning prosperity to advertise "
an additional "ten thousand " with the difBerence
that it was " lamps " not words.
Those among the audience at the first night of
"The Daughter of St, Mark" who had seen
Halevy's "La Eeine de Chypre," admitted that
Balfe had treated the subject with more success
than the original. The splendour of the mounting
the earnestness of the performers were praised in
terms corresponding. There is only one principal
female part in the opera, that of Caterina, and
this gave Miss Eainforth the best opportunity for
her powers. Mr. Harrison was the tenor (Adolph).
Mr. Weiss, who also made his first important ap-
pearance in London on this occasion, was selected
by Balfe for the part of Moncenigo, Mr. Borrani
was Andrea, and Mr. Burdini the King. This
was the first of Balfe's English operas in which
the whole of the action was expressed in music.
In the " Bohemian Girl " there was some dialogue
unset to recitative, " The Daughter of St. Mark "
was in the form of a " Grand Opera Seria " and
as such it was distinguished on the title page.
In reviewing the music at the present time,
forty years after it was written, the reader cannot
fail to be struck by the manly grip of the subject
which Balfe's treatment shows. The overture is
an announcement of the themes made use of in
the work, and is worthy for the brilliancy of the
scoring. There is no noise for mere noise sake,
but the full orchestra is used in a way -which is
■admirable for its power and pertinence.
With, increased opportunities Balfe exhibited
increased skill, a spontaneity and an apparent
freedom from effort, which many construed into
an absence of consideration for the importance
of the task undertaken.
There is no remplissage, no scamping of work,
and no mere use of the cut-and-dried designs of
•*'form" to save trouble. When a motive is in-
troduced a second time it is in such a newness
-of guise, as variety of key, or change of instru-
mentation can impart.
The melodies are, like all Balfe^s melodies,
legitimately vocal, and so natural that once
announced they suggest their own sequence.
'This sequence is often interrupted by the most
ingenious contrivances, necessary for the dramatic
situations, amply effective, and delightful for the
surprise they offer. Never rude or violent.
The concerted music is admirably written.
There is a trio for three voices which is in the
form of a canon in the unison, sufficiently scientific
to win tlie hearts of the schoolmen, and sufficiently
melodious to charm the ear of the ordinary listener.
The whole work justifies its title as a " Grand
Opera Seria." Some of the melodies are well
known apart from the work in its integrity.
" There is Sunlight in heaven," " The Gondolier/'
" When all araund our path," and " We may be
happy yet," among others. The fascinating
phrases of this last song will perhaps never fail in
their attraction. It is stated that the melody as
it now stands was an afterthought. At the last
rehearsals the original melody to the same words
was found to be unsuitable for Harrison's voice.
The knowledge of stage effect which had before-
time prompted Balfe to substitute a fresh finale
for that which he had written for his " Maid of
Artois," told hiin that the song would " go for
nothing " as it stood. Harrison also felt this
though he did not trouble the composer with the
expression of his thoughts, as the melody pleased
him. He was therefore not unprepared for a
change when Hayward St. Leger, Balfe's faithful
satellite, roused him at his lodgings in Margaret
Street, Cavendish Square, just as he was retiring
to bed late at night with the announcement " We
may be happy yet." Divining the full meaning
which those mysterious words implied^ Harrison
closed his window, hastily dressed himself, and let
the welcome messenger in. They tried the song
together, and such an impression did it make upon
the singer's mind, that it was sung over and over
again " waking the echoes with a strain they were
destined to repeat, Heaven knows how often."
A. fortnight before the production of " The
Daughter of St. Mark," namely, on the 13th of
November, the " Bohemian Girl " reached its
hundredth night. In those days long runs were
exceptional, and such an event was unprecedented.
The occasion was marked by an interesting cere-
mony. A testimonial to the composer was decided
upon. A committee was formed of which Sir
Henry Webbe^ Bart., was president, and Mr. St.
Leger secretary. The subscriptions amounted to
several hundred pounds, and a very handsome ser-
vice of plate was made, which was presented to Balfe
on the stage at Drury Lane on the 6th of Decem-
ber, the evening of his benefit. Alfred Bunn, who
claimed the honour of introducing his works to-
the public, now introduced the composer to
receive the substantial evidence of his popularity.
Gratified beyond expression at this recognition
of his services in the cause of the public, Balfe
regarded it as a hopeful sign of the ultimate
realization of his great dream of a national
opera. It was therefore with a light heart and in
a happy frame of mind he went back to Paris to
tread, as he thought, the path of success already
opened to him. He little knew how or in what
manner that path was to be closed to him for one
more immediately tempting, a path remarkable
not only in his own life but in the history of
With the industry and energy characteristic of
him, Balfe was working at two operas at this time
both intended for production in Paris. Only one
■of the two, " L'Etoile de Seville," was placed upon
the stage there. The other, " The Enchantress/'
was to be brought out at Drury Lane, after an
English version by Bunn.
The book of " L'Etoile de Seville " was written
by Hippolite Lucas, his idea being taken from
" La Estrella de Sevilla," of Lope de Vega.
Balfe regarded the eommission to write this.
work, which he received from the directors of the
G-rand Opera, as marking one of the most im^
portant eras in his life. Not because it was ad-
Tantageous to him in a financial sense, but because
it showed how highly English music, as represented
bj him, was esteemed. No other English com-
poser had been so favoured before, and subsequent
time has told how that none had been held of
sufficient importance for acknowledgment beyond
their own immediate sphere of action.
For an English musician to be recognised as
worthy to rank among the native composers of
France, and to have his original works produced
at such temples of art as the Opera Comique and
the Grand Opera, was no mean compliment. To
be admitted to the boards of the Grand Opera was
an honour undreamed of by any but native
composers. It is not unusual for directors to
make room for the famous masters whose
success elsewhere awakens a curiosity to hear
their music through the medium of a French
translation. It was somewhat out of the ordi-
nary course to invite the representative musician.
1 74 BALFE,
of a nation said to be unmusical, to furnish the
^tage with an opera for which they supplied
the book. It meant no Tery great advantage to
the composer, for it could not make his work
better. It signified a confidence in his power and
a desire to admit him to the dignity of a place
among those found worthy of being enrolled in
"the ranks of great musicians. The Grand Opera
in Paris was the fount of honour and dignity, and
the invitation an avowal of Balfe's worth and
Already his music had enshrined itself in the
hearts of his own countrymen. Germany had
tried his qualifications by the test of science and
invention, and had warmly approved his efforts.
Prance, the first foreign land to admit his
originality as was shown in the matter of the
additions to " Zingarelli," now placed the crown of
laurel on his brow by inviting him to contribute
a work for the repertoire of what was regarded as
the greatest lyrical theatre in the world.
Balfe sold the score of " Le Puits d' Amour " to
Bernard Latte for 12,000 francs. This large sum
paid to an English composer, represented not only
■enterprise but a considerable amount of courage
on the part of the French publisher when it is
held in view that the press had ridiculed the idea
of an Englishman writing an opera for the French
stage, and that Auber usually received only
15,000 francs for his operas. The amount paid to
BaKe for " Les Quatre Fils Aymon " was 12,000,
but for " L'Etoile de Seville " he obtained 15,000,
with 250 francs per night for each work for
It was because he appreciated the honour offered
to English art in his person that he went to his
task with characteristic energy. The opera
" L'Etoile de Seville," performed by Madame
Stolz, Mdlle. Nau, M. Paulin, M. Menghis, Bre-
mond, Gardoni, and Barroilhet, was given for
iwenty successive nights from the 17th of Decem-
ber, 1845. Contemporary criticism thus speaks
of the work : —
"All the artists exerted themselves to the
utmost, and displayed ^s much zeal for a native of
Great Britain as they would have done for one of
their compatriots. At the conclusion M. Balfe
and M. Lucas were called for. After one hearing
only of the work inclination leads us to place
' L'Etoile de Seville ' higher in the scale of musical
merit than the ' Quatre Fils Aymon/ which was.
produced at the Opera Comique in 1844."
While " L'Etoile " was still running, Balfe re-
turned to London, and was present at the first
performance of Macfarren's fine opera "Don
Quixote" at Drury Lane, the theme of which he
had suggested. His visit had, however, an-
other ohject. It was to sign an engagement
with Mr. Lumley as conductor of the opera at
Her Majesty's Theatre in the place of Signor
Costa, who had accepted the conductorship of the
Philharmonic Society. The performances of the
opera and those for the Philharmonic were attended
by the same orchestra. Some misunderstanding
arose about the arrangements for rehearsals, which
led to the secession of Costa. Balfe had received
the invitation to proceed to London while the re-
hearsals of his opera "L'Etoile" were going on in
In the peculiar position of affairs at Her
Majesty's Theatre some decided action was neces-
sary. The conductor who was to succeed Costa
must be one whose position would secure respect
for his appointment. After some consideration it
was decided to invite one of three — Spohr, Meyer-
beer, and Balfe, the last for preference.
Lumley succeeded in inducing Balfe to apply
for a few days leave to go to London from Paris to
hear a proposition which would be, it was said, to
It was ultimately settled that Balfe should be
conductor of the Italian Opera for the season of
1846. His first desire before accepting the
appointment was to consult his friend Costa.
Tliis did not accord with the views of the com-
mittee, and Balfe was asked to hold the matter a
secret from all, in case it should militate against
the success of the forthcoming season.
The position offered was an important one. He
therefore accepted the engagement, signed the
pledge to that effect, and returned to Paris,
There was no need to invite either Spohr or Mey-
erbeer. There might be a question as to the
popularity of these famous composers when the
British public was called upon to recognise
either as conductor of Her Majesty's Theatre,
but there could be none about Balfe, who was fully
established in the esteem and affection of the
public, as he was at that time at the height of his
Balfe was loyal to his pledge not to divulge
anything connected with the engagement he had
made. This placed him in a very awkward posi-
tion with regard to Paris. He was compelled to
leave his "Jour de Noel" unfinished^ and to
break off all his engagements^ without being able
to assign a satisfactory reason. The cause was
explained when the prospectus for the season of
1846 was issued by Mr. Lumley.
Her Majesty's Theatre opened on Tuesday, the
3rd of March, 1846, with Verdi's opera "Nino"
(Nabucco) for the first time in England. A con-
temporary notice thus refers to the event : " The
perfect satisfaction expressed by the brilliant and
crowded audience on Saturday night may be taken
as a fiat of approbation from the tribunal to
which the munificent lessee looks for support.
Were we a gazette of fashion we could occupy
half a dozen columns with a list of the noble,
wealthy, and otherwise distinguished personages
who presided on the occasion ; but as we are
simply a journal of music and the drama, our
readers must tax their imagination to picture
a scene such as only the London Italian
Opera can present — a scene to which the frestige
of high rank, the pomp of aflluent citizenship, the
j)ride of literary and artistic distinction, and the
-absorbing influence of female beauty, lend a glow
1 80 BALFB.
of splendour, an intensity of excitement, and a;
variety of interest unparalleled elsewhere. There-
were matters also connected with the first night
of the present season that had been the subject of
zealous discussion for weeks previously. Signor
Costa, the late admirable director of the orchestra,
had resigned his situation and was to be succeeded
by Mr. Balfe, a dramatic composer of European
fame. The popularity of Signer Costa both with
the hahitues of the opera and with his orchestra
was very great When Mr. Balfe
made his appearance, he was received with three
spontaneous, enthusiastic, and unanimous cheers,.
which at once set at rest all anxiety on the
matter — and the sequel established his com-
petency for the important post he occupies beyond
all possibility of dispute."
A somewhat severe review of Yerdi^s opera
follows, the gist of which is contained in the
sentence " Serious criticism would be thrown
away on such a work." Great care was taken
with the mounting, and praise is accorded to Mr._
liumley for having modified the ancient opera
regime in this respect. " The orchestra under Mr..
"Balfe was admirable, so well pleased were the
audience that at the end of the opera Mr. Lumley
was loudly called for from all parts of the house.
-Afterwards the same honour was conferred upon
Mr. Balfe, who was brought forward by Mr.
Lumley, and received with flattering demonstra-
tions of approval."
So far all went well, and the season passed off
brilliantly. At Her Majesty's Balfe signed an en-
■ gagement with Lumley lor three years, and when
the house closed, started off for a holiday in
Vienna, where his opera, "Die Vier Haimon's
Kinder " (Les Quatre Fils Aymon) was being
played. He took with him the book of a new opera,
founded, as it was said, on Halevy's " Mousque-
taires de la Eeine," and intended for the debut of
-Mrs. Bishop at Drury Lane in the month of Sep-
tember. He heard his operas, " The Siege of Ko-
chelle " and " The Bohemian Girl," at the Opera
House in Vienna.
Later in the year it was reported in the public
iprints that Jenny Lind, whose brilliant gifts and
: accomplishments were the theme of admiring
Kjomment in musical circles, had accepted an
engagement at tlie Summer Theatre of Vienna
to sing in those operas, as well as in the " Enchan-
tress " and "The Daughter of St. Mark." The
Parisians and the Viennese were as enthusiastic-
for Balfe's music as his own countrymen had-
Meantime, rumours of the proposed establish-
ment of a second opera speculation at Covent
Garden were gaining form and substance, and a
semi-ofBcial announcement in the Morning
Chronicle made the world acquainted with the fact
that an engagement had been made with Costa,.
who was to have full powers of control over all
the artists engaged for the proposed scheme. The-
majority of the members of the band of Her Ma-
jesty's Theatre had signed with Costa, and Lumley
had lost the chiefs of his band and the best of his-
Before the season of 1847 commenced, Balfe
had a most responsible task. The majority of
the fine band of 1846 had transferred their ser-
vices to Covent Garden Theatre. Balfe had to
organize an entirely new orchestra of his own..
He accomplished this difiicult undertaking with
complete success, as was stown by tlie perform-
ance of " La FaTorita " on the opening night of
the season of 1847 (16th February). On this oc-
casion Gardoni, the popular tenor from the Grand
Opera of Paris, made his first appearance. The
orchestra was admirable, the triumph was great.
When all the Philharmonic orchestra left
Sterndale Bennett, because Mr. Gye decided to
give operas on Mondays, Bennett engaged the
orchestra of Eer Majesty's Theatre, which Balfe
had trained, and was more than satisfied with
their efficiency and obedience.
As a conductor Balfe was second to none. A
singer himself, he knew how to accompany singers.
He could cover defects, and increase good
qualities, by a manner in which Jenny Liud was
wont to say no other conductor possessed. His
friend and fellow-pupil, R. M. Levey, in his excel-
lent " Annals of the Theatre Royal, Dublin," thus
describes his powers in this direcbion : —
" Several eminent composers have failed in
wielding the conductor's baton, but Balfe pos-
sessed all the qualities — great decision, ' an eye to
threaten and command,' a faultless ear, ready to
discover the slightest inaccuracy, and, above all,
an intelligible and decisive beat, witbont whicb all
tbe otber attributes are as nothing; indeed, none
but the initiated can have an idea of the import-
ance of the movements of the ' small white wand'
to those whom it is intended to guide. Much mis-
chief may be done by a moment's distraction on
the part of the holder. He may be compared to a
skilled ' whip.' He has not only four, but per-
haps forty, yea, one hundred ' in hand,' and even a
temporary indecision may do much harm. Per-
haps no other occupation demands greater ' strain '
of brain or steadiness uf hand for the time being
than that of an operatic conductor. And, as re-
marked above, many of the greatest composers,
from lack of the peculiar talent, have been obliged
to ' pass the torch ' (b§,ton) to another for the con-
duct of their own works. Balfe was ' all there.'
Every man under his iurisdiction knew what he
meant, and at what part of the bar he might be, so
that all went well."
The Italian season of 1846 ended, and there was
silence if not rest. Lumley was quietly energetic
in one way, and Balfe's old friend Bunn in another.
Each, it appears, was working at the same design,
that of inducing Jenny Lind, then making a
furore on the Continent, to accept an engagement
in London. She actually did pledge herself to
serve Bunn, and promised to appear at Drury
Lane. By this engagement Bunn hoped to make
his " blaze of triumph " more sparkling than
ever. He had paid Malibran £120 a night ; he
offered Jenny Lind ten pounds a night more. His
•courage was sublime. His theatre was limited in
its capacities, the prices of admission were com-
paratively small, and he knew that any attempt to
augment them would be strenuously resisted by
the public. Continued success alone could reward
him for his enterprise. This he hoped to secure by
the production of novelty after novelty in breath-
less succession until he found a means of satisfy-
ing the public by the offer of something which
should be sufficiently solid and lasting to enable
him to pause, rest, and profit by the enjoyment of
the fare he placed before them. Bunn wished
Balfe to write an opera for Jenny Lind as he had
-done for Malibran, Jenny Lind did not sing for
Bunn, and Lumley paid forfeit to the extent of
£2,500 to secure her services at Her Majesty's
Theatre, and the opera was never written. It waa
part of Balfe's original agreement with Lumlej
that he should not produce any new work of hi&
own at Her Majesty's Theatre while he held the
baton during the season. There was no limit or
restriction to what he jiiight be inclined to do
elsewhere, or at another time. The enjoyment of
an income which was definite and regular gaye
him hopes of devoting more time to composition.
His operas were not always a source of large
profit to him at that time. In most cases they
depended upon the run for a certain number of
nights. If, as Bunn might say, "coldness or
deceit should slight the beauties now they prize,,
or deem it but a faded light " that burned in'the
works produced, the chances of remuneration
were attenuated proportionately. Balfe was never-
mercenary in any business transaction. He ac-
cepted the market value which was placed upon
his works by the publishers, and did not care to
load himself with the reproaches of conscience by
driving a hard or an unfair bargain with any one^
Liberal to a fault in all his dealings, he was apt to-
believe that others met him on a like ground. He
thus lived joyously, and experienced that happy
mental tranquillity which was an essential condi-
tion to the production of his works^ and a necessity
of his mode of existence. A mean-minded man
could never have written, much less have con-
ceived, his melodies.
He appreciated to the full the liberality and en-
terprise of Bunn, and although as a man of
culture and of cosmopolitan tastes he must have
been aware of his weakness as a poet, he con-
tinued faithful to him as a collaiorateur. He
knew that if he could not always write poetically,
he could suggest a poetical thought. Moreover
he was clever at inventing situations effective on
the stage, and favourable to the designs of the-
The opera now to be produced was " The Bond-
man," adapted from the romance by the elder
Dumas, " Le Chevalier St. George." The libretto
in this case had an origin more immediately rela-
tive to the stage in a piece written by Mr. de St^
Before this was given, the theatre had been?
opened for the season of 1846 on the 3rd of
■October (the genial and accomplished Signer
Schira as conductor) with "The Crusaders" of
Benedict, to be replaced on the 8th by "The
Maid of Artois," Madame Anna Bishop appear-
ing as Isolina; the other parts of the opera
were sustained by Miss Rebecca Isaacs (her
first appearance), Mr. Burdini, Mr. Borrani, Mr.
Weiss, and Mr. Harrison. For this represen-
tation Balfe had written a new tenor song, " For
thee, and only thee ;" a new ballad, "0 what a
charm it is to dwell ;" a new coda to the duet, "O
leave me not thus lonely," and also revised the in-
Madame Bishop's singing was greatly admired
by the critics, and the opera was given about
thirty times during the season. It was alter-
nated with the " Bohemian Girl," and then was
replaced by an opera by Mr. Lavenu, " Loretta, a
"tale of Seville," which, after running for some
five-and-twenty nights, was withdrawn in favour
of "The Bondman." The 11th of December was
the opening night, and the opera was considered
the greatest of Balfe's productions at that time.
" It is written with more care, and is altogether
more the work of an artist than any opera we re-
member from his pen. The finale to the second
act is exceedingly fine, and leaves nothing to be
desired. Any musician might be proud of having
written this splendid morceau. Among the pieces-
we would especially notice are a most delicious
ballad in the first act, ' It is not form, it is not
face,' admirably suited to Miss Homer's voice, and
well sung ; a very characteristic buffo song,
'There is nothing so perplexing,' given to perfec-
tion by Weiss ; and a romance in act third, ' Love
in language,' as likely to become highly popular.
The principal vocalists, including Miss Eomer,
Messrs. Weiss, Harrison, Harley, and Rafter, ac-
quitted themselves exceedingly well, and merited
the applause they received. Mr. Balfe was called
for at the end of the second act, and when the
curtain fell. He was cheered from every part of
the house. We may confidently and conscien-
tiously state that the opera of ' The Bondman ' is
a work of unusual excellence." Balfe conducted
his opera the first night. Signer Schira gracefully
yielding his right for the occasion. In addition
io the pieces mentioned by the contemporary
critic there are others which the musician of the
present, examining the work without being in-
fluenced by the prejudices of the time, finds ex-
cellent. The hunting choruses, for example, and
the unaccompanied quartett, " There is a des-
tiny," are admirably written. The melody,
^' Child of the Sun,^' the key melody of the opera,
running throughout like a golden thread in the
fabric, is also charming in its phrases and dra-
matic in its design. This melody is employed
with the most consummate art. It not only orna-
ments, but binds together, as it were, and gives
meaning to all the rest of the music in the opera.
It is a prophecy of the leit-motiv of Wagner, but
it is differently used. It has often been said by
thoughtful and wise musicians that the man who
invented the leit-motiv deserved well not only of
his own nation but of the whole musical world.
This honour may be claimed for Balfe. In aU
his operas, from the very earliest among his
productions, his predilection for this form of
utterance may be traced. In " The Bondman " it
found amplest expression. The whole of the opera
is beautifully designed. The orchestration is
written with unusual care, and the effects of
sonority and colour are actually well studied and
thoughtfully contrived, while they seem to be
nothing more nor less than the outcome of an
exuberant fancy. The overture, like most of
Balfe's preludes, was a pot-pourri of airs in the
work, but there was this difference, that the
opening bars were treated in canonic form, and
with the phrases initiated by different qualities
of tone in the orchestra.
The opera drew large houses. The dramatic in-
terest of the situations was superior to most of
Bunn's productions, and strange to say, that
although there are some very curious expressions
to be culled here and there from the book of
words, such as " iracity, rapacity, voracity," and
others which Bunn invented, there are some lines
of genuine poetry which no man need have been
Balfe's music further shows the most consum-
mate dramatic power, genuine grip and verve in
its phrases, and the existence of the true visr
comica which few among musicians possessed, or
were able to express so happily as he.
His next work, an operetta, " The Devil's In It,"
was written for Miss Eomer and Mr. Harrison for
a short season of operatic performances, under-
taken in the spring of the year 1847 at the Surrey-
Theatre. The subject, originally Spanish, was
translated into French, and then rendered into
English by Charles CofPey in the early part of the-
18th century, under the title of " The Deril to
Pay." Scribe translated this farce, and Auber set
it to music as " La Part du Diable." Balf e altered
the title afterwards to " Letty the Basket Maker."'
This little work, and the opera, " The Maid of
Honour " — words by Fitzball — produced by Jullien
at Covent Garden Theatre during the time he was
lessee, are the only other works of importance
which Balf e wrote in 1847. "The Maid of
Honour," the same subject as Flotow's " Martha,"
had for principal artists Miss Birch, Miss Miran,
Mr. Weiss, and Mr. Sims Eeeves, for whom the
tenor part was written, and who made an enor-
mous hit with the ballad, " In this old chair," one-
of the most touching and poetical of all the ballads
of Balfe. The sympathetic and tender voice of
our great tenor found its way direct to the hearts
of the hearers. By an oversight on the part of
Mr. Forester (Alfred Crowquill), who was one of
the managers of Covent Garden Theatre at that
time, the customary license from the Lord Cham-
berlain had not been taken out for the book. This
was not discovered until a letter from Mr. John
M. Kemble, the licenser of plays, was received on
the morning of the performance. The license was
obtained only a few minutes before the doors of
the theatre were to be opened.
The minds of all concerned were relieved, and
the opera was given, the public knowing nothing
of the business which had well-nigh deprived
them of the pleasure they greatly enjoyed.
Sims Beeves, as before said, made a great hit
with the ballad, "In this old chair," and the com-
poser and author of the libretto were called for at
the end of the performance.
Eitzball states in his chatty book, " Thirty-five
Tears of a Dramatic Author's Life," that Balfe
always considered "The Maid of Honour" his
most finished production.
The immortal author of '^PendenniSj" William
Makepeace Thackeray, who was passionately fond
of Balfe's music, was present at this performance.
He was wont to say that the song, " The heart
bowed down," in the " Bohemian Girl," was a
tragedy in itself, and the sentiment expressed in
the lovely ballad, " In this old chair," in " The
Maid of Honour," drew tears from his heart as
well as his eyes.
Balfe wrote no new operas for London for a
long period. After " The Maid of Honour," his
published contributions appear to be limited to a
few songs to English and Italian words, the latter
including some scenas written for Jenny Lind
and Gardoni for the concert tours in 1847 and
1848. In the last-named year he paid a second
visit to Dublin, this time as conductor for Mr.
Lamley. How Jenny Lind disappointed Bunn,
and engaged with Lumley, how the town suffered
from Jenny Lind fever, when that charming per-
son and gifted artist appeared, are matters which
belong to another department of biography. It
•will be enough to say that Balfe was conductor of
the opera at Her Majesty's during the whole period
of the engagement of the transcendent prima
His power of infusing his own spirit and verve
into the performance by his singers and the band
made him one of the best among conductors. His
care, knowledge, and intelligence enabled him
often to impart a reading to a work superior to
that which the composer produced when he
directed his own work. This was the case with
" Masnadieri," brought out in the second season
of his engagement at the opera as conductor,
Verdi had been invited by Lumley to direct the
opera. He made so poor a hand of it that a
fiasco seemed imminent. Balfe, at the desire of
Verdi, resumed the baton the second night. As
much success as the work was able to win
followed, and was gratefully acknowledged by
the composer. The success he could get for an
author he also gained for a manager. Balfe tided
over the difficulties caused by the changes in the
personnel of the orchestra in 1847, which now
included Piatti, Lavigne, and Anglois in its
ranks, and helped to produce that series of operas;
in wMch Jenny Lind carried all London captive-
by her siren strains.
In the season of 1848 Sophie Cruvelli joined
the company at Her Majesty's, and among other
operas sang in " Le Nozze di Figaro " with Jenny
Lind. The result of the experiment proved her to-
be possessed of fine dramatic talent, and it en-
couraged her to undertake the more serious role of
" Fidelio" in Beethoven's great opera, produced twO'
years later for the first time on the Italian stage.
Eecitatives were written by Balfe to the " dia-
logues " in this masterpiece with so much wit and
skill that it is difficult to tell where Beethoven
ends or Balfe begins. Not only did Balfe strive
to reproduce the chords employed by the great
genius whose work he was called upon to adapt^,
but he also invested his additions with a poetical
character. When certain ideas or thoughts are
foreshadowed or referred to, Balfe introduced sug-
gestions of the melodies or themes in which.
Beethoven had conveyed his thoughts. In Leo-
nora's dialogue may be traced the motive of the
" Invocation to Hope," and in Eocco's that of the
-" Gold Song." Balfe had done this sort of thing
frequently in his own operas, but had called forth
no discriminating comment from musicians. The
name and purpose of the leit-motiv was not re-
cognised in musical art in those days. The device
of associating a particular phrase or passage with
a particular incident or personage was well known
to musicians who wrote. The musicians who
judged recognised the value of such an employ-
anent of ideas, but they did not find a name for it
among the permitted definitions of the Critical
In the list of operas whicli Balfe himself drew
up, and to wMch reference has been made, there
is a gap of five years between the production of
"The Maid of Honour" and "The Sicilian Bride."
These years were spent by Balfe in activity, but
circumstances were not favourable to the en-
couragement of English opera. His duties as
conductor of Her Majesty's Theatre, and the many
engagements which he accepted during the season,
kept him fully employed, and so soon as the cur-
tain fell on the last act of the final performance
he went away with his family, to enjoy the rest he
had earned by his work. Frequently this rest was
made only a diversion of labour, for he was called
upon to fulfil engagements in one place or another
abroad or at home.
Thus in 1846 he spent his holiday in Paris at
the invitation of Louis Philippe, the King of the'
Prench, who always admired his genius, and-
highly estimated his personal character. Of the
particulars of this and similar visits there is no
Balfe kept a diary^ but resolutely baffled his
future biogra.phers by destroying it regularly at
the beginning of a new year. He had also a
strong dislike to writing long letters. Those of
his communications which exist, are preserved as
treasures by his friends, because of their rarity.
They are brief, and refer to matters apparently
xmderstood between himself and his correspond-
ents; and moreover they are further disappoint-
ing as they seldom bear other date than the day
of the week.
He was passionately attached to his family,
and as he was accustomed always to have them
near him, there was no need for him to carry on
a correspondence in order to know and to make
known how time passed with each other.
Some of his musical sketch books remain, and
from them an occasional " light of other days "
may be discerned.
Thus it was found that in 1846 he wrote three
pieces of music to sacred words for Madame-
Adelaide, the sister of the French king. These
were to Latin words with orchestral accompani-
ment. They consist of a solo for bass, " Gratias
ago;" a duet for two basses, "Kyrie Eleison,"
and a trio, " Sanctus," for soprano and two basses.
It is known also that about this time he was
asked to write a Mass for the service of the Eoman
Church, but he was not able to begin it.
His friend Mr. Beale, the publisher, offered to
find a subject for an oratorio, which he was
anxious for him to compose, but Balfe was never
willing to undertake work for which he felt he
possessed no special qualifications or inclination.
In 1847 and 1848 he remained in England after
the opera season, for several months, making a
tour in the provinces with Jenny Lind and others,
the most triumphant and profitable speculation
ever undertaken. In the spare time of the first
year he wrote a number of beautiful songs to
satisfy the publishers. In his leisure in 1848 he
commenced, and all but completed, a new opera
to satisfy himself. His musical sketch book re-
veals that this was begun at Manchester, 12th
The words and names sliow that the subject of
the opera -was taken from Victor Hugo's play,
" Le Eoi s' Amuse," the same source whence
Piave, the Italian poet, took the book for Verdi's
" Eigoletto." Verdi's opera was produced ia 1851,
at Venice, so that the honour of priority in the
-choice of the subject may be claimed for Balfe.
There are no other papers, notes, or references
to this work existing. It is therefore impossible
to explain why Balfe never finished more than
two acts. It maybe that his moral nature re-
volted at the equivocal nature of the subject, and
so he abandoned it. The author of the libretto
is not stated, but as the sketch book was only in-
tended for private use, there was no need to record
matters of which the writer did not think it
proper to inform himself. A quotation of a part
of the poem may serve to disclose the author's
, style : —
Weep not, 'twill whelm my heart,
To witness grief like thine,
Which to thy hopes may peace impart,
But only shatters mine.
This is a portion of a duet for Einalfo, the jester,
and his daughter, which, as music, is as powerful
as anything that Balfe ever wrote, and quite as
vigorous and as dramatic as the well-known " Tutte
le festa," in the like situation in Verdi's opera.
The whole seems to be written as a " Grand Opera
Seria," with recitations, not dialogue.
The finale to the second act includes an air in
E major, the melody of which is the first idea of
the beautiful " Power of love," so effectively used
afterwards as " Satanella."
The same sketch books show the nucleus of a
mass of undated work, particularly interesting to
the student of Balfe, and offering by its existence,
the clearest proof that his apparently spontaneous
effusions were the result of careful thought and
labour. Ln the early pages of one of the books,
some of which appear to have been single or de-
tached sheets afterwards bound together, there
are no less than four distinct settings of the words
"When other lips," in "The Bohemian Girl."
These are not only different in rhythm to the
published and popular version, but they are in
different key. There is also a version of the trio
in the last act " See at your feet," more extended
than that given in the opera, and finally "The-
fair land of Poland" has altogetlier another
melody. The gipsies' chorus was greatly modified
before it was considered final, and had the whole
of the skebches for the opera been preserved, it is
possible that other important changes might have
The portions of the unfinished opera spoken of
just now prove that Balfe though not represented
before the public by any new work, was not allow-
ing his mind to lie fallow as was supposed during
In 1849, at the end of the London season, he
was invited to visit Berlin by the present Emperor
of Germany, then the Prince of Prussia. This
was the second time in his life that he had been
honoured by so pleasant a command from a foreign
potentate ; first by the King of the French, now
by the heir to the throne of Germany.
Tranquillity had succeeded a period of revolution
and disturbance on the Continent. England was
not actually involved in rebellion, but it was feared
that a rising might take place in London at any
time. Prepared for the worst, the director of Her
Majesty's Theatre, secretly drilled and armed his
employes to defend the touse iu case of an
3/ utiBiC Km
Quiet had been restored, and travelling on the
Continent was safe once more. Still the Crown
Prince of Prussia had never presented himself to
the public, or joined in the world of art, after the
insults he had received during the rising in Ger-
many in 1848. He honoured Balfe by being pre-
sent at the production of " The Bondman " (Der
Mulatte), at the Grand Opera in Berlin, given
under the direction of the composer, who wrote
two new pieces of ballet music, " A pas de cinque "
and a " Minuet," for Marie Taglioni. The opera
was given with as complete a mise en scene as
could be desired. ' The performers included the
famous Madame Koesler, Herr Manting, and
others equally distinguished in the German
The whole of the members of the Royal Family
of Prussia were skilled in music, and counted
many of Balfe's' compositions among their
favourite pieces. It was therefore before a sym-
pathetic and appreciative audience that he was
called upon to produce one of his best works. A
proof of the appreciation of his efforts was con-
veyed in the invitation to return during the fol-
lowing year, and superintend the representations
of "Die Zigeuneriunn," ("The Bohemian Girl")
on the King's birthday. This was done in due-
time, and the King offered Balfe the decoration
of the Prussian Eagle, which, as an English sub-
ject, he was compelled to decline.
In several of the provincial theatres in Germany
his opera had been given, and to this day more
than one of Balfe's compositions are performed
on the several German stages, and enjoyed with as
great a zest as in his native kingdom.
Balfe returned to London in January, 1850, to
conduct a series of " Grand National Concerts "
at Her Majesty's Theatre. For this he composed *
an Overture. This enterprise was managed by a
committee of noblemen and gentlemen, but it
was not successful. People's minds were running
upon the " great world's fair," which was to take
place the year following. Musical speculations
were not all unprofitable however. During the'
triumphant concert tour of Jenny Lind in 1849,
she had been offered an engagement by a com-
mittee acting through a Mr, Hall, a member of
the orchestra at Her Majesty's, to sing at twelve
concerts, at the rate of £500 per night. This
proved very profitable, and Jenny Lind, to show
her high appreciation of the services Balfe had
rendered to her during her engagement at the
opera, and upon the tours, before she went to
America, volunteered to sing for him gratis at a
concert in London. She managed the whole
afEair herself, and the concert given at Exeter
Hall at the end of the month of January, 1850,
realized £1,700, an amount never equalled before
or since in the building.
The year of the " Great Exhibition " saw the pro-
duction of both variety and novelty at the opera
in the Haymarket, " Gustavus III.," "Masaniello,"
and " L'Enf ant Prodigue " of Auber, " Plorinda,"
by 1 halberg, for which the publishers paid £2,000,
the largest sum ever given at that time for an
Italian opera in England, and "Fidelio" for the
first time on this stage with Sophie Cruvelli and
Sims Eeeves in the principal parts. For this
opera Balfe wrote the recitatives alluded to on
page 196, and which are always given when the
work is played in Italian in England. AU these
"were condncted by Balf e in a manner whicli called
forthtlie most enthusiastic praise from the public,
the artists, and even from the manager. The
prisoner's chorus in " Fidelio," had the advantage
of the assistance of all the principal male artists,
Gardoni, Calzolari, Pardini, Massol, Ferranti
Lorenzo, and F. Lablache, at the request of Balfe,
to do honour to this great work. The season
was further marked by a sensation scene appro-
priate to the period, thus described by Mr.
Lumley. " After a brilliant performance of the
' Muta di Portici,' the curtain rose upon a well-
devised scene of the monster ' Crystal Palace '
(the first of that illustrious species) and the sur-
rounding landscape of Hyde Park. An 'occa-
sional ode,' composed by Balfe, the conductor,
heralded the symbolical congress of ' peace and
goodwill ' among nations."
The music of this pageant, which included
" Characteristic dances," was not the only work
besides ballads which Balfe wrote in this year.
He wrote a cantata for female voices with Italian
words, for Signer Puzzi's benefit, on May 26th.
The accompaniments included a horn part for-
Puzzi, a harp part for Labarre, and a pianoforte
part which he played himself. The singers —
Sontag, Sophie Cruvelli, and Korentini, were-
each provided with music suited to their powers,,
and strove in friendly rivalry to outshine each
other, and to do justice to Balfe's music. Labarre
was a pupil of Boieldieu, and with Adolphe-
Adam wrote the " Allegro " to the overture " La
Dame Blanche." The introduction and the coda
were -written by the master.
As the season reached the end, the members of
the orchestra presented Balfe with a magnificent
silver salver, as a testimony of their admiration
not only for his genius, but for his never-varying
Mndness and consideration for all in the theatre,,
from the highest to the lowest.
He enjoyed one triumph more in the favourable
reception given to " Les Quatre Fils Aymon," in
a new guise. Mr. Lumley in his " Eeminiscences
of the Opera," thus tells the story of the produc-
tion. "Another event, however, was still to come.
For the benefit of the conductor, Mr, Balfe, was
performed, for the first time on the Italian stage,.
that genial composer's opera, 'LesQuatre Fils
Aymon,' under the title of 'I Quatro Fratelli.' It
was first produced at the Opera Comique in Paris,
and met with much success. It was equally ad-
mired in its English form when given at the
Princess's Theatre, under the management of Mr.
Maddox, as 'The Castle of Aymon.'" But it
was always in Germany that it enjoyed its greatest
popularity. First produced at Vienna, it quickly
visited every capital city and town in Germany,
and was everywhere received with enthusiasm.
To this day it remains a " stock opera," and every
military band still executes, on aU available occa-
sions, the favourite melodies of "Die vier
Haimon's Kinder." " Perhaps," writes Mr.
Lumley, " there is no one of Mr. Balfe's many
operas which abound so much in lively, spirited,
and at the same time original melodies, as this
happy inspiration. Owing to the composer's in-
genious blending of the two characters of Italian
and French styles of composition into a style that
may be called per se ' Balfean,' this tuneful work
lost nothing of its original effect when transferred
to the Italian stage. The music may even be said
to have acquired a fresh beauty from being con-
Teyed to the audience in the Italian tongue.
Comic verve and dramatic esfrit were preserved,
■while the countless melodies of the work gained in
mellifluous fluency. Sophie Cruvelli, aided by
Gardoni , Pardini, Coletti, and Massol, secured a
most effective and spirited execution for the work
of their friend and fellow-artist; and Mr. Balfe
earned on the occasion of his benefit, a great and
The " Musical World " gives an account of the
performance, of which the following is a condensa-
tion : —
"The production of Balfe, Comic Opera, 'Le
Quatre Fils Aymon,' and in the Italian title of
' I Quatro Fratelli,' for the benefit of the composer
was an event of more than ordinary interest.
Messrs. Leuwen and Brunswick never invented a
more ingenious and amusing libretto ; Balfe never
wrote music more lively, untiring, and vivacious.
It is not necessary to enter into details, since none
of our readers can have forgotten the adventures
of the four sons, who, left penniless by their father,
Duke Aymon, through the wit and spirit of the
enchanting Erminia, daughter of Baron Beau-
nanoir the Stingy, get wives and fortunes ; the
lucky Olivier obtaining the hand and heart of
Erminia, while the three brothers are united to
her three cousins^ each fairer than her neighbours.
" Such an Erminia as Cruvelli was enough to
make the success of an opera of less merit than
that of Balfe. A more elegant, brilliant yet dash-
ing piece of comedy was never seen. Every one
of the three costumes suited Cruvelli to admira-
tion ; indeed in this particular, it could be difficult
not to suit her, since she suits every dress so well,
that the dress must needs look handsome that
she- wears. In every scene CruveUi was the life
and soul of the action. She was quicksilver; and
yet, in the midst of her incessant movement,
everything she did was graceful, natural, and
easy. She had already proved herself a tragedian
in Fidelio and Norma ; in Erminia she came out
as a sterling comedian,
''The other characters were well filled. Gar-
doni was delightful as Olivier, and never sang
with more taste and feeling. He gave the charm-
ing ballad ' Gia tarda e nera,' a gem in its way.
to admiration. Madame Giuliani was excellent as
Clara. A new Cavatina, ' Tutti ben riiisci,' com-
posed for her by Balfe, and sung in the most
artistic and satisfactory manner, was one of the
hits of the eTening. The parts of the two other
cousinSj Islande and Eglantina, were played by
Mdlles. Teller and Lanza. Eicardo, Allardo, and
Einaldo, three of the four brothers Aymon, re-
ceived full justice at the hands of Signori
Perdini, Mercuriali, and Balanchi, and Signer
Coletti was perfect as the major-domo Ivon.
Balfe was applauded at each act. At the con-
clusion Cruvelli came forward alone at the unani-
mous call of the house; and to sum up,. Balfe was
led on by Gardoni, and cheered to the echo."
He left London for Vienna to enjoy a still
greater triumph. The director of the new
Theatre der Wieder, Herr Pokorny, proposed to
open his season with " The Bohemian Girl," which
had been very profitable to him the year before.
He had engaged the famous Jetty TrefFz and Herr
Staudigl to strengthen the cast, and the happy
thought occurred to him to invite the composer to
conduct three performances at a honorarium of
1,000 francs a night. This proved so great a
success that the engagement was extended to
twelve nights, at the same rate. The theatre was
crowded on each occasion, and Balfe the only Eng-
lish composer the Germans had ever seen, was
welcomed with the most extraordinary enthusiasm.
The German public had conceived the idea that
Balfe was an English composer of the last genera-
tion. They judged that his music exhibited too
much science and learning to have been produced
by any writer then living. When he appeared in
person they took him for the " son of the com-
poser of the ' Bohemian Girl,' and were astonished
to find that one so young-looking was so old in
their estimation, and the discovery of their own
disappointment only increased the excitement with
which they received him." Pokorny signalised
the event by inviting the distinguished represen-
tatives of art and letters to a banquet in honour
of Balfe, at the conclusion of his engagement.
On which occasion also, he presented the com-
poser with a splendid service of plate, as a testi-
mony of his gratitude and appreciation. The
.artists, on their part, gave him a gold baton, on
which the names of all his operas then known
While this happy scene was enacted within, a
scene no less flattering to the composer or significant
of the estimation in which his genius was held
was inaugurated without. Herr Strauss, the
father of the three world- famed brothers, brought
his band to perform a selection of pieces from
several of Balfe's operas. The veteran delivered,
a harangue in the best English he could muster^
and alluding to the personal admiration he felt at
being able to make the acquaintance of one whose
works he admired in common with all his country-
men who had heard them, embraced Balfe, and
metaphorically crowned him as " The King of
Melody," a title by which he was afterwards ad-
dressed, not only in Germany but at home.
DuEiNG the time of his second visit to Berlin, one
evening at the residence of Prince Charles, the
Crown Prince suggested to Balfe that he should
visit St. Petersburgh, and try his artistic fortune
there. He promised to make the way easy hy
addressing a letter to the Empress, and Balfe, ever
grateful, and ever adventurous, determined at the
close of the " dismal season " to seek " fresh
fields and pastures new."
Before starting he had delivered up the score of
his opera " The Sicilian Bride," the only work of
importance which had flowed from his pen for five
years. The book written by Alfred Bunn, on the
basis of a play by Saint Georges, was the last which
the immortal author of the " blaze of triumph "
gave to Balfe. It was produced at Drury Lane on
the 6th March, 1852, with Miss Crichton, Miss
Isaacs, Miss P. Horton, Mr. Sims Eeeves, Mr.
Whitworth and Mr. Henry Drayton. With his-
wife and daughter Victoire, Balfe started for
Dantzic on a visit to liis son-in-law. Max Behrend,
the hushand of his eldest daughter, Louise. Max
Behrend's sister was the wife of the charming
composer, Curschmann, and the united talents of
those gathered together at this period, in this
place, afforded the means for the enjoyment of
many happy hours.
From Dantzic they proceeded to St. Petershurgh
in M. Behrend's travelling carriage. They were
nine nights and eight days performing the journey,
and were wearied and worn beyond measure when
they entered the good city of St. Petershurgh. After
a few days' sojourn in an hotel, they were invited
hy Mr. Michele, who was formerly the Editor of the
Morning Post, and now held the office of Consul-
General, to remain as his guests.
Balfe delivered the 'letters with which he had
been furnished by the Eoyal family of Prussia, but
he had to wait for his reception for some time —
nearly two months — in consequence of the Court
being in mourning for the Duke of Leichtenberg.
That period having passed, he was invited to con-
duct the Court concert given at the residence of
the Grand Duchess Helen. The Grand Duke
Constantine presented Balfe to the Empress, who
greeted him as an old friend as " M. Balfe, de I'air."
The air being the finale to the " Maid of Artois,"
originally written for Malibran, but which had
been made familiar to the Court by the singing of
Alboni and Pauline Viardot.
During his stay at St. Petersburgh Balfe gave
two concerts in the SaUe de Noblesse, with the
assistance of Mesdam as Viardot, Caradori, Garcia,
Mario, Demeric and Signori Tamberlik, Mario, De-
bassini, Eomani and Lablache. By desire of the
Eoyal Family, who attended these concerts, the
greater part of the programme was made up of a
selection from his own compositions, including
*' Le Postiglione," which he sang and accompanied
: himself in his own marvellous style.
His geniality and readiness made him many
friends. In one of his letters, written at the time,
he says, "I have done splendidly here. The
Russians have positively taken a fancy to me, and
I have all the prettiest women in St. Petersburgh
,as pupils. I shall come back here next season, of
course. The Empress herself has had the good-
ness to request me to return. I really cannot
speak in too liigh terms of all the Imperial family ;
I am spoiled by them, and^ what is almost better,
have received splendid presents."
Balfe did not return the next season, for the
Crimean war broke out, and his second visit to-
Eussia was not made until some years after. On
his way back to England he stopped at Vienna to
produce "Eeolanthe," at the Imperial Theatre,
which proved a great success. From Vienna he
went to Trieste, further lengthening the time of ^
his absence from home by a sojourn in Italy. At
Trieste the "Bohemian Girl" as "La Zingara,"
was performed in the month of December, and
very soon with the wandering propensities of the
tribe to which she belonged, did she " find a home
somewhere " very quickly. In Bologna, the scene
of former pleasant memories, in Brescia and in Ber-
gamo was the fascinating dream of " La Zingara "
fully admitted. These performances offered a
gratifying proof of the sympathy of feeling be-
tween the English artist and the Italian people,
and they awakened a desire in the mind of the
representative Italian musician and publisher,..
Eicordi, to include Balfe's name in his archives.
He therefore offered him a commission to write an
opera for Trieste. Balfe chose a boob compiled by
F. M. Piave upon a subject suggested by himself
with the title of " Lo Scudiero." This was com-
pleted but never performed.
Piave was an Italian poet of high merit but of
lugubrious fancy. He had made a special study
of Victor Hugo's dramas, and delighted in trans-
lating into Italian those with gloomy endings.
He sent another book to Balfe called " Pittore
e Duca." The subject was, as far as could be told,
original. The poet's peculiar fancy had, however,
conceived an ending to the opera in perfect agree-
ment with that which had hitherto satisfied Verdi,-
for whom he had written several libretti. In this
opera, produced in September, 1856, Balfe had
written some of his best dramatic and most
original music. The success of the whole was most
exciting but the final scene, with its tragic ending,
was changed after the first night and the opera
was made to end happily.
The finale was altered by Saint Georges, Balfe's-
old friend and literary collaborateur in Paris, and
this modified version was translated by tlie present
writer into Bnglisli some years later, and performed
at Her Majesty's Theatre by the Carl Eosa Opera
Company, in January, 1882, by the name of
"Moro, the Painter of Antwerp." Tfc was well
receiyedj several of the pieces being encored by an
enthusiastic audience. There is some very fine
music in this opera. The introduction is striking
and new. The finale to the second act is especially
well written. There are three ai-ias for tenor of
unusual freshness and charm. The baritone songs
are -vigorous and well laid out for the voice, and
the soprano music, based upon the Italian models,
is brilliant and florid. The choral writing, as
instanced in the chorus of judges, and a chorus
for students, is excellent, and the scoring is full of
colour and character. Altogether it is an interest-
ing exareple of the composer's thoughts at that
period. The Daily Telegraph, in a long and appre-
ciative notice of the opera, after the performance at
Her Majesty's Theatre, singles out for special praise
-several of the numbers. The first act proper con-
tains a song, "Is it then in vain .I've waitedj"
BALFB. • 221
illustrative of Balfe's purest melodic style, as well
as the care with which, when in proper mood, he
could ably wed the tone to the words. With this
may be bracketed Olivia's air in the convent scene,
" As by the river straying." Portions of the duet
for Olivia and Alba are marked by strong dramatic
purpose. The musical interest of the second act
fairly begins with Moro's song, " Farewell thoughts
of joy and gladness." Here the well-known Balfe
melody asserts itself, and the audience gave it all
the welcome implied in a vociferous encore. A
like reception awaited the Duke's air, " Bold knight,
his armour wearing," which is also in the com-
poser's best vein. In the third act attention is
challenged by some capital concerted pieces for the
sailors and people, and by charming dance music
of a Spanish character. In agreeable sequence
comes a duet for the lovers, opening with a slow
movement, only to be described as, in its way, a
gem ; but the attraction of the duet is surpassed
by the real beauty of Moro's barcarolle, "On my
gondola so lonely." No number, perhaps, has a
better chance of taking just honours than this
song, which, with its lively choral refrain, appeals
irresistibly to all who have any soul for fresh and
Madame Valleria performed the part of Olivia,
and when the Opera was repeated in London and
in the country. Miss Georgina Bums added greatly
to her reputation by her singing and acting in the
part. Miss Guilia Warwick was Ines, Mr. Barton
McGuckin, was Moro the Painter, Mr. Leslie Crotty
was the Duke, Mr. Dudley Thomas, was Vargas,
and Mr. Hervet D'Egville, the Ambassador Orsini.
The vocal score was issued by the house of
Messrs. Cramer and Co., the house which, in 1835,
had printed Balfe's " Seige of Eochelle;" and the
Queen, with her customary gracious kindness,
accepted the dedication of the opera.
Balfe visited several places in Italy in the year
1856. Turning homewards he rested at Paris,
where he wrote a "Concert Overture," dated
"January, 1857," which is full of spirit and fire.
It was performed by Pasdeloup in later years with
•success, and was given once or twice in London.
When Balfe reached the British metropolis he
found that another attempt had been made to
-establish a National Opera in consequence of the
outcry for the support of native talent which was
made in the public prints of the time.
It was during this year that the musical world
hailed with delight the publication of " six songa
and a duet," which Balfe had composed to words
by the American poet Longfellow. They were
written at Dantzic during a short stay with his
son-in-law, M. Behrend, on his way home from St.
Petersburgh. Published by Boosey, they met with
^ most favourable reception. An enormous
number of copies were sold in a remarkably
short period. Up to this time the poems of
Longfellow were scarcely read or known in Eng-
land. Balfe's selection of words attracted attention
to the poet who had written them, and awakened
«, demand for his works. Musicians of all degrees
of talent followed the lead given, and poured forth
a flood of " Longfellow settings." The poet him-
self, grateful for the popularity which his verses
Lad gained in England through Balfe's genius,
wrote a letter expressing the pleasure he had
received through his music, and invited Balfe to
visit him at his home in America. He promised
Mm a reception in that country which his talents
merited. About the same period also, General
MorriSj the author of " Woodman spare that tree,"
and several other poems which had become known
in England, sent to Balfe a magnificent copy of his
works, accompanied by a letter stating that if he
found any of the poems worthy of setting nothing
would give him greater pleasure than to have his
name associated with that of the composer of the
immortal " Bohemian Girl," who by this time had
wandered not only all over the United States but
also into the chief colonies. Balfe was asked to ac-
company Jenny Lind to America in 1850, but was
not able to make arrangements for a visit to that
country. He often longed to sojourn among a
people who had received his works with the greatest
favour, and who would doubtless have given him a
He was not forgotten by the public of London.
He announced a performance of " The Bohemian
Girl," with other attractions, for his benefit at
Drury Lane in the month of July. He was assisted
by Miss Arabella Goddard, the foremost English.
pianist of her time, by Miss Dolby, Madame Viardot
Garcia, Messrs. Gassier, Weiss, and Sims Eeeves.
The performance was a brilliant success, and the
composer was received with cordial and affectionate
welcome from the audience. In all other respects
Balfe's muse was silent this year.
In the closing months of 1857, Mr. Harrison
and Miss Louisa Pjne entered into partner-
ship. Their object was to establish a national
opera in English. They were well supported
by a committee of subscribers, and opened
the Lyceum Theatre with high hopes and
expectations. They gave operas in English,
" The Huguenots," " Crown Diamonds," etc. The
performances were successful artistically, but the
public did not flock to the theatre in such numbers
as to make the venture prosperous financially.
With shrewd and practical knowledge the partners
believed that if they could keep the theatre open
long enough, the public would in time support the
undertaking. Day by day gloom settled thicker
and closer over and around them, until it was felt
that an undertaking intended to be national must
be promoted by other means than the production
of foreign works. Balfe was invited to write an
opera. The magic of his name seemed to revive
the fortunes of the house, and his sunny presence
to dispel the gloom. When the opera was only
announced the attendance became improved, as
though people were auxious not to lose sight of
the faintest blush of the ray which might bring
light and prosperity. When the opera was finished
and produced, the house was not large enough to
hold the people who wished to hear it. The opera
was "The Eose of Castille." Twice at least before
had Balfe saved the fortunes of a theatre by his
efforts. Once again was his music to replenish
the exhausted treasury, and to fill men's minds
and hearts with a grateful flood of incomparable
melody. The libretto of this new opera was con-
structed by Mr. Augustus Harris, the stage
manager, and Mr. Edward Falconer, a dramatic
writer of some power. The groundwork was " Le
Mxdetier de Toledo," which had obtained some
little success when produced in Paris on the 18th
May, 1849, and to which Adolph Adam had set
some charming music.
Balfe completed his opera in thirty days, work-
ing at night, as was his wont, between the hours
•of eleven and three. He seemed to be more
nervous about tlie success of this than any of his
former works. He knew that the artists of the
theatre had consented to remain on half-salaries
until the production of his opera. If it proved to
be a failure his mortification would be doubly
Public expectation had been raised to a high
,pitch in anticipation of a renewal of those pleasures
which Balfe's pen never failed to excite. For all
ihese reasons he took particular pains with his
workj and hoped for the best. His own appre-
hension is expressed in the words, " My new opera,
'The Eose of Castille,' comes out to-night. If one
•could judge by the rehearsals, we have every chance
of a great success. Nous verrons."
The opera was produced on the 29th of October,
The singers, Miss Louisa Pyne, Miss Susan Pyne,
Mr. Harrison, Mr. Weiss, and Mr. George Honey,
exerted themselves to the utmost to do justice to
music which had been arranged to show to the best
advantage the capacities and accomplishments of
all. Balfe was happy when he could write to hia
family at Paris after the performance — " Great
success. I was called out after each act, and re-
ceived in a most enthusiastic manner."
The opera had an enormous run. On the
hundredth night of its repetition, the author
appeared upon the stage at the call of the
audience, and "wreaths, flags, bouquets, baskets
of flowers, all the prescribed paraphernalia of
enthusiasm rained upon the stage." It ran for
nearly two seasons, first at the Lyceum and after-
wards at Drury Lane, when the Pyne and Harrison
Company transferred their venture to the larger
In this work the experts observed that Balfe's
scoring was especially worth attention and remark.
It was not the humming of a big guitar, but " a.
series of masterly bits of kaleidoscopic colouring,
helping tlie form and yet charming the senses with
surprising combinations of appropriate hues.'^
"The muleteer's song," "The convent cell,"
"'Twas rank and fame," the trio "Fm not the
Queen," are the brightest among the gems whick.
sparkle throughout the opera. Balfe's powers had.
rgained in solidity, and the influence of his melo-
dies over the public mind was as great as ever.
Another fact worth noting was the production of
"The Bohemian Girl" during the first experimental
winter season at Her Majesty's Theatre, in Italian as
" La Zingara." Piccolomini, Alboni, Giuglini, and
Beletti were the representatives of the chief parts.
Balfe converted the dialogue into recitative, and
made the whole homogeneous for the Italian
stage. Giuglini's singing of " Then you'll re-
member me," in the Italian brought with it a
pleasure never to be forgotten by those who heard
it. The lessee, Mr. Lumley, was so delighted with
the result, that he presented Balfe with a cheque
(for fifty pounds ; a sum considerably in excess of
■what was due as '^ author's i-ights."
While the season continued. Her Eoyal High-
ness the Princess Eoyal, the eldest daughter of
our gracious Queen, was married to the Crown
Prince of Prussia. The Queen and the Prince
Consort, in commanding the performances at the
theatres to celebrate the occasion, signified the
interest they had always shown in native music as
represented by Balfe, by commandiHg a perform-
ance of " La Zingara " at Her Majesty's, and of
"The Eose of Castille" at the English Opera.
The Prince Consort further expressed his great
approval of the last-named work by ordering over
fifty copies of the scores to be sent as presents to
his friends in Germany. The published copy was
dedicated to the most noble the Marchioness of
Once more did Balfe renew the triumph he had
gained in times gone by, First with " The Siege
of Eochelle/' next with the " Bohemian Girl," and
now with " The Rose of Castille." Each marked
an epoch in his life, and showed the mental pro-
gress he had made. Each work possessed the cha-
racteristic qualities which distinguished his music
among that of all others of his contemporaries.
Each later Opera compared with its predecessor
presented unmistakable signs of development in
thought and treatment. The last placed side
by side with the first made the artistic contrast
the more striking. In all these was the expression
of the heaven-born power of melody with which
he was so greatly endowed. The maturity of ex-
perienee lent force to his fancy, and brought im-
provement with increasing years. Of those which
represented his intermediate labours, it might be
said "that the music fell upon the ear like a reve-
lation, and upon art with the power of a revolution."
" Satanella " proved another positive triumph
for the composer. The ingenuity of the story,
albeit the introduction of certain characters, Ari-
manes for instance, was freely commented upon,
and admitted on all sides. The style was that of
the grand opera, and the music was delightful.
The chief air for " Satanella " " The power of
love," which permeates the whole work, and forms
the guiding theme of the opera, was quickly caught
up, and spread through the town. It made as
great a sensation as " The light of other days "
had done two-and-twenty years before, though it
must be acknowledged that a great share of the
interest was due to the exquisite singing of the
most accomplished English prima donnas, Miss
Pyne, " the first among them all."
The instrumentation was vigorous, the effects
were novel, the musical ideas were striking and
powerful. The " go " in the dramatic action and
the grace and charm of the accompaniments, and
the ballet music were greatly admired. " The con-
vent cell " another beautiful ballad, gained much
charm by the sweetness and purity of Miss Pyne's
singing. The opera was played the whole season.
In 1859 Mr. Henry Littleton, who had succeeded
to the business of Novello and Co., gave Balfe the
commission to edit a collection of Moore's Irish
Melodies, and to supply introductory symphonies
and accompaniments. It may be almost needless
to say that a subject so congenial .was treated by
Balfe in the happiest mood. Every one of these
ballads so set is a gem in itself, and the reverence
paid to the traditional form of the melodies was in
all respects commendable. There was no altera-
tion of a note or passage to make it conformable
to a passing fancy, and no change of a phrase to
fit the sequence of harmonies. Balfe, by his treat-
ment of these songs showed himself not only a
scientific but a conscientious musician, " uniting
in his person the qualities of musicianship and
national sensibility imperatively demanded for
such a task."
" La Zingaea " was among tlie greatest attrac-
tions of the season at Her Majesty's Theatre in
1858, the last which was to be under the rule of
Mr. Lumley, and " was received with a triumph
which had never been exceeded, even in the days
of the Catalani."
Balfe visited the provinces on a prosperous tour
in this year, and returned to London to be present
rat the rehearsals of " Satanella," the book of
which had beea concocted by Messrs. Harris and
Falconer. It was produced at Coven t Garden
Theatre the 20th December, 1858, the tirst work
given on that stage during the time that the Pyne
and Harrison Company held the theatre, "their
fortune improved by the triumphs of 'Satanella.' "
Once more did Balfe make "a journey due
north " to the Russian capital with his daughter
Victoire. What followed is but told in his own
words, part of a letter widtten the 26th March,
I860, to an old friend — " I am going to give you
a little news that will surprise you, and I am
sure that you will be pleased to hear that my
darling child Victoire is to be married to an
ambassador at the Court, Sir John F. Crampton,
at the end of this week, and her mother and
your old friend the father return home childless !
Well, now both my girls are well provided for,
and I am a happy old gentleman. You will also
be glad to hear that the Court here have ex-
pressed their satisfaction, and my girl has an
audience of the Grand Duchess Constantine, to
receive her felicitations."
While Balfe was in Russia his opera " Satanella "
was " drawing crowded houses" at home. Some
ballads he had written for Sims Eeeves and others
were charming the public ear in the concert rooms.
One called " Margaretta," the words of which had
been selected by him from General Morris's book,,
a contemporary writer describes as " one of those
catching trifles which Mr. Balfe in his happiest
moments, is so lucky in producing, ....
the whole, too, essentially singable, can hardly
fail to be effective, and charm all ears, no matter
of what dimensions, and reach all hearts from the
softest to the least easily penetrable."
At the end of October, 1860, Covent Garden was
opened with " The Eose of Castille," and " the
work was never received with greater favour." An
English version of Victor Mass^'s opera " Le Noces
de Jeannette " held the stage for a short time nntil
it was replaced by another new opera by Balfe
entitled " Bianca the Bravo's Bride." The words
were by Palgrave Simpson, who followed Matthew
Gregory Lewis, commonly called " Monk Lewis,''
pretty closely, in the lines of his story, but with
such an amount of poetical feeling as might be
expected from so experienced a dramatist. This
opera was placed upon the stage on the 6th of
December, 1860. It was spoken of almost in the
phraseology of Bunn who died at Boulogne the
week after the performance, as another glorious
triumph for English opera — another hope for
national music. " Mr. Balfe's new opera was one of
the most legitimate successes ever witnessed
within the walls of a theatre."
The Times in a short notice which appeared on
the day following the performance, thus speaks —
^' A grand romantic opera in four acts, abounding-
in complicated music, built upon a story that
embodies a great variety of incidents, and written
throughout with an evidently serious purport,
cannot in fairness be dismissed after a single hear-
ing. Such an opera is the long and anxiously
expected new work of Mr. Balfe, who for upwards
of twenty years has been the most popular of our
native composers for the stage, and who last night,
added another to his long list of successes. His
'Bianca the Bravo's Bride,' is framed more
ambitiously than any of his latter productions, and
for that reason demands and invites stricter atten-
tion. We shall therefore be satisfied at present
with announcing its enthusiastic reception by a
crowded house. The composer was twice sum-
moned before the curtain, and again appeared a
fourth time leading Mr. Alfred Mellon, who had
well earned the compliment by the ability and
labour he must have bestowed in preparing what
was an admirable representation, even for this
theatre, where imperfect first night representations
form the exception, rather than as is too frequently
the case, the rule. It may as well be stated that
BALPE. , 237
* Bianca ' is founded upon the well-known
romance of ' Eugantino, or the Bravo of Venice,'
also once familiar as a melodrama, and that Mr.
Palgrave Simpson has turned the original materials
into an operatic libretto with the tact and judg-
ment of an experienced hand. Nearly every member
of the company is engaged in the distribution of
characters, which are so numerous that Mr. Balfe
has been able to accommodate as many as six
basses and baritones — Messrs. "Wharton, Law-
rance, Kelly, Wallworth, Corri and Distin— with
more or less conspicuous parts. Mr. Harrison
represents the mysterious and formidable bravo —
Like Cerberus, three gentlemen in one.
Miss Louisa Pyne, whose singing from end to
end was a model of finished and brilliant exe-
cution, the Princess distinguished by his tender
solicitude ; Mr. St. Albyn, a comic second tenor ;
and the promising Miss TMrlwall, a maid of
honour somewhat advanced in years. To conclude,
scenery, costumes, and a more than usually
animated ballet, all efPectively combined to lend
attraction to the spectacle. The star of English
opera is clearly in the ascendant." Wallace,
Frank Mori, Benedict, Loder, Howard Glover,
and Macfarren were all represented through their
works on the stage at the same period, either
actually or prospectively, and the success achieved,
by many was held to point to a bright future for
English art. " Formerly an opera — by which is not
intended a mere ballad opera — for the pen of an
English composer, was regarded in some sort as a
phenomenon ; but it would appear from what is
now on hand that our musicians have progressed
with the times."
All this was unquestionably owing to Balfe, the
honours he had won at home and abroad had
awakened the emulation of his contemporaries.
Where an Englishman had succeeded, Englishmen
might also tread the path of prosperity.
No one was happier than Balfe to mark this
advance. He had said in years gone by, that the
only hope of establishing an English national
opera upon permanent grounds was to encourage
young artists to produce works. The success of one
would strengthen the ground for those who were
to follow. When the opportunity existed there is
never likely to be any lack of aspirants to seize it.
Everything in those days depended upon an
individual venture. Had Balfe not applied the
means of raising the fortunes of the English opera
company by his " ?atanella," the whole specula-
tion would have collapsed and another failure to
establish English art must have been registered.
The favourable reception given to Balfe's opera
encouraged others to raise their drooping heads
and take heart of courage.
The Pyne and Harrison Company would prosper
so long as matters attractive were offered to the
public. But the public is capricious, and cannot
be always commanded to admire those things by
which the entrepreneur hopes only to make money.
A thousand reasons might be advanced to explain
the cause of failure where success was desired and
expected. But reasons, though they be "as
plentiful as blackberries," will not fill the treasury,
and it is necessary that some other guarantee
against failure should be supplied. There is no
arrangement in this country which admits of a
subvention being granted to support theatrical or
musical entertainments. Everything is left to
private enterprise. If English opera appeared to-
be successful under tlie regime of the Pyne and
Harrison Company it was because the works given
were attractive to the public, and the managers
were careful to place them upon the stage in a
manner fit for public acceptance. Balfe's operas
had turned the fortunes of more than one venture.
They were usually attractive and remunerative..
It was therefore not surprising that the directors
of the English Opera should make an earnest
endeavour to secure the services of the greatest
among English opera writers, and provide for a
succession of works during their tenure of the
theatre. A new arrangement made with Mr. Gye-
for the use of the theatre for three years, suggested
the offer to Balfe of an engagement for a like
Balfe undertook to supply three original English
operas, in the month of October in the three suc-
cessive years 1861, 1862 and 1863. For the acting
right, singing or acting — for three years, for each
opera he was to receive three hundred pounds, one
half to be paid on the 20th of October, the re-
laainder on the day after the first performance. A
farther sum of one Imiidred pounds was to be
given for an extension of the right for two years
more if claimed. The managers were to supply
the opera hook. All this arrangement was inde-
pendent of any bargain that Balfe might make for
the publication of his music. For each opera he
had now obtained a thousand pounds.
Besides the works which Balfe wrote, the Pyne
and Karrison Company produced several new
operas by William Vincent Wallace, Henry Leslie,
and Alfred Mellon their conductor.
The first opera written by Balfe for Covent
Garden, under this engagement was "The Puritan's
Daughter." It was produced on the 30th of
November, 1861, and met with great and instant
success. It pleased the public and the judges,
and is even now regarded as one of the most
masterly works that Balfe had ever written.
The author of the libretto Mr. J. V. Bridgeman
had done his work well and effectively. He was
experienced in the dramatic science, and was well
skilled in the art of making smooth, effective and
vocal verse. The story selected was good, and
Balfe was in the happiest vein in his setting.
The overture is one of the most striking of all
Balfe's compositions. It is graceful in its form,
and fresh and powerful in the instrumentation.
Every other portion of the music was intensely
dramatic, and was so arranged that it was in-
dependent of spectacle or scenic effects. It was
also noteworthy as being the second, and not as was
stated at the time, the fii'st of Balfe's operas as a
purely English theme — the first was " Catherine
Gray." From a musical point of view it was further
memorahle as showing a departui-e from the method
previously adopted in operas, inasmuch as the
tenor parts were kept entirely in the background
and the chief music for the lover was assigned to
a baritone, not by accident, but by design. This
baritone part brought its representative Mr. Santley
considerably to the front in public favour, and
strengthened the reputation he had earned in
other works both as an actor and as a singer.
Messrs. Harrison, St. Albyn, Wallworth, Honey,
Corri and Patey with Miss Pyne sang in this
opera, and the public flocked nightly to hear its
melodious strains and to enjoy the fine dramatic
interest the situations offered. The Daily Telegraph
of that date, thus spoke of the work : —
" The success of Mr. Balfe's new opera which
after the first performance was characterised as
'indisputable,' becomes more and more decided
with each successive representation. The work
contains every element of popularity. The story
is interesting, the dialogues amusing, the verses
elegantly written, the melodies striking, original,
and characteristic, the concerted pieces, though
comparatively few in number, invariably well
constructed ; while the choruses though still less
numerous, are equally dramatic and effective."
When transplanted to America it excited an
extraordinary sensation, even though the poetical
finish of the first act was destroyed by the intro-
duction of a vulgar finale which was impertinently
concocted by the conductor and the performers.
This happily did not destroy the attraction of
Balfe's music nor diminish his fame. A large
number of American copies of the songs were sold,
and the publishers reaped a great profit from the
sale. Thanks to the international arrangements
as regards copyright, Balfe never derived any-
thing more than an artistic benefit from his
popularity in America. It is true that he was
invited to make a journey to that appreciative
country, to enjoy advantages more substantial
than empty honour, but he never went. After his
death Mr. Pond paid his widow £300 for the right
to print "II Talismano " in America, and this
was the only financial recognition of Balfe's merit
received from the great country, where his operas
and songs were as well known and as welcome as
they were in the several European cities.
Balfe never complained of this, never alluded to
the want of understanding between, the two
nations, he was perfectly well acquainted with the
state of things nearer home. International copy-
right, as it existed, was practically a dead letter,
and the cost of recovering penalties from foreign
appropriators not only would have deterred him
from taking any action in the matter, if he had
been so disposed, but would have been altogether
strange to his nature and disposition.
The cantata " Mazeppa " was begun by Balfe
some time in this year, 1861. His mind may have
Tieen interested in scenes of Russian adventure,
and if it was so, no better story would recommend
itself to his attention. Tlie boot was written by
Miss Jessica Eankin, the authoress of several
songs to which Balfe had set music.
The cantata was performed in the month of
June, 1862, at Exeter Hall, with Madame Sher-
rington, Madame Dolby, Mr. Sims Reeves, and Mr.
Santley as the chief singers. It was proposed
to introduce it into one of the programmes of
the Birmingham Festival of the autumn of 1861,
but this proposition was not carried out. After
the first performance the whole of the band parts
and the score mysteriously disappeared, and have
not been recovered to this day.
The cantata contains some of Balfe's best music.
The opening chorus "Fill high" is full of power
and vigour. The air for soprano " I dreamed I
had a bower so fair" is a gem of melody, the
duet following, soprano and contralto, and
Mazeppa's song " She walks in queen-like grace,"
are fit to match with anything Balfe ever wrote.
The chorus " Revenge " is well conceived and
carried out, and the parting duet soprano and
tenor, " Ah ! why that face so full of care ? ""
Mazeppa's second song, the fine dramatic trio,
and the instrumental introduction descriptive of
the flight of the " Tartar of the Ukraine breed,"
and the suffering accents of Mazeppa, bound to
the creature's back, are most expressive. A bright
and effective chorus, concludes this most interest-
" Blanche de JSTevers " the second opera written
by Balfe, according to the terms of his contract,
was produced at Covent Garden Theatre on the
21st November, 1862. The libretto provided by
John Brougham displayed more regard for poetical
expression than for effective dramatic situations.
It was compiled at the request of Mr. Harrison,
and the sentimental part for the lover was under-
taken by him, although all but himself could see
that the qualities necessary to excite sympathy
had been lost in the passage of time. The public
was not enthusiastic about the work. The papers
of the time singled out many points of excellence,,
the chief, being the carefulness of the writing
throughout, the ingenuity brought into play in
fitting the singers with passages suited to their
artistic peculiarities, the dramatic power of the
ensemhles, the heavity of the ballet, the genuine
■verve in the comic music, and the clever and
The plot was a mixture of gipsy life and
intrigue, but the incidents were well worn and
familiar. Good as Balfe's music was it could not
make the story interesting. It pleased musicians,
but the audiences were too shy to come out. The
words were said to be better than those of the poet
Bunn, but there was none of that extraordinary
knowledge of stage effect which Bunn always
showed even in the weakest of his books.
Tor the third opera under the contract Balfe
vrote "The Armourer of Nantes," the book by the
author of the " Puritan's Daughter," Mr J. Y,
Bridgman, who had tnken Victor Hugo's " Marie-
Tudor " as his guide to a subject. Produced at
Covent Garden on 12th February, 1863, it did
not fail to satisfy those who looked for high
dramatic expression and melodious phrases. The
subject included a variety of character and form of
utterance, and the last act was held to be one of
the best Balfe had written. The choruses were
more carefully constructed than heretofore, for
increased knowledge of music had produced a cor-
responding effect in the qualifications of those who
filled tte inferior but not unimportant situations
in an operatic performance.
With the exception of a little operetta, " The
Sleeping Queen," written for Mr. and Mrs. German
Eeed, the words by H. Farnie, the " Armourer "
was the last new work that Balfe ever produced in
bis lifetime. The greater part of the book of
" The Armourer" was translated, and Balfe busied
himself in arranging the work for the Italian stage,
a work he never completed. He began to long for
rest and repose. As time flew on, the malady,
which a third of a century before had sent him to
Italy, became more troublesome with increasing
years. The excitement and turmoil of London life
no longer possessed its ancient charms for him.
He bad realized enougb to be able to say, " Thank
God I am no more in a situation to sell my work
under its value." What other labour he chose to
undertake he could do at his leisure. The need
of eking out existence by a variety of occupations,
or rather the exercise of his varied genius in many
forms, no longer existed. He had -won a good
name, and had, to a certain extent, helped to
educate audiences, who were ready at all times to
listen to his utterances. His children's children
had grown up about him, and he was " a happy-
old gentleman." He therefore determined to make
the most of his happiness. He sold the lease of
his house in Upper Seymour Street, London, and
purchased a small property in Hertfordshire called
by- the romantic name of " Eowney Abbey." The
house, picturesque in appearance, though modern
in origin, stood on a part of the site of a priory of
Benedictine nuns called Rowena Abbey, founded
in the reign of the second Henry by Conan, Duke
-of Brittany, Earl of Richmond, and Lord of the
Manor of Great Mundon, The house was five
miles fBom Ware, and seven from Hertford. There
were gardens, fields, farmsteads, a small copse or
wood, and other delights for occupation and
pleasure, including a famous fish pond enlarged
from, an ancient pool. Here Balfe was wont to
enjoy a " contemplative man's recreation." Other
quiet field sports he learned to accustom himself
to, and his gifted wife had made " such a wonder-
ful place of Eowney," by her care and skill, so tliat
when he returned after a short absence he could
" scarcely believe his eyes, everything is so lovely
and very comfortable."
In the midst of his comfort and enjoyment he
found time and inclination for work. He rescored
the overtures to several of his operas, and contem-
plated the revision of all his compositions for the-
stage as far as possible. With this notion in view
he drew up a list of his operas.
He had at least four important books of new
operas to work at. One by Planch^, " The Sieg&
of Calais ; " one by Tarnie, title not stated ; one
by Oxenford, " The Lady of Lyons ; " and one by
Matthison, " The Knight of the Leopard."
Here it was that he began and nearly finished two-
acts of the opera which was sent to himbyrarnie..
Here it was that he read but could find no inspira-
tion in a book by Planche. Prom Eowney also he-
wrote, 10th September, 1866, to his old friend Mi*.
T. Chappell, " I like the idea very much of com-
posing Oxenford's libretto, ' The Lady of Lyons.'
Would you have any objection to my reading
it? " Here it was that he completed the revision,
of tlie scores of " The Knight of the Leopard," his-
last and best work. Busy to the last was this
faithful and well-loved servant of the public,
after an unparalleled career of more than half a
The " Siege of Calais," an opera in three acts,,
was written by Planch6 for Mendelssohn, who only
lited the first act. Balfe expressed the same
opinion, and further thought the other acts wanting,
in dramatic situations. Henry Smart had seen
the book, and had actually written music for the
first act, but could not get on with the rest,
Planch6 states in his "Recollections" that Balfe
was engaged upon the opera at the time of his
death. This could not have been the case. The
book had been returned to Mr. T. Chappell, to
whom it belonged, some time previously. Balfe
found no inspiration in it, for not a single note or
any reference to it was found among his papers or
Of Farnie's opera nearly two acts were com-
pleted, then the work was stopped. It is doubtful
whether Balfe furnished any music for Oxenford^s^
book, though he had it in his possession some
iime, and wrote to Mr. T. Chappell from Eowney
on the lOti September, 1866: "I like the idea
very mnch of composing Oxenford's libretto, ' The
Lady of Lyons."'
" The Knight of the Leopard " was completed
all but a few pages of the scoring of the last piece.
On this opera he dwelt with loving fondness, de-
termined to make it the work of his life. " I am
studying and making alterations in the ' Knight
of the Leopard.' I am very fond of this work ; I
wonder if it will take the public — chi lo sa ? " The
best offering he could present to the public, for
whom he had laboured so long and earnestly, and
in whose service he had spent the greater part of
the years of half a century. He knew not that
that which he intended to be his best work should
also be his last, or that this noble outcome _of his
genius was to be the crowning effort of a career of
industry and productiveness unparalleled in the
history of English musical art.
The pleasures of " the paradise," as Balf e was-
wont to call Eowney Abbey^ the genial character
of the air, and the thousand and one little in-
describable associations of a residence in a secluded
country house, all agreed with him, and he was
happy. The children of his eldest daughter, his
much-loved " Gigia," were with him, and for
their " comfort and solace " he renewed the
memories of his youth, and reproduced out of tlie
hidden stores of his heart his old gaiety of spirit
and exuberance of fun.
While the summer days lasted, many and
boisterous were the excursions made into the
neighbourhood in merry enjoyment. When the
autumn succeeded, the changing leaves and
ripened fruits of nature may have suggested a
tone of sadness in the reflections of the "happy
old gentleman," but there was none shown out-
His " darling wife " had not only made Eowney
"Abbey beautiful, but with her large-hearted
womanly sympathy she had endeared herself to
all the poor people in the neighbourhood who
would have done anything they knew of to give
pleasure to " Madame."
Within the house when the twilight faded,
"G-igia" and her father — who took up his violin
after years of disuse — would make music together,
reproducing Beethoven, Mozart, and Mendelssohn,
"the children sitting round in rapt attention,
little Henry Behrend especially drinking from
these performances inspiration of music as from a
fountain. Or, as it sometimes happened, grand-
papa would be telling some wild and exciting
story with a special moral in it, or relating the
history of some of the heroes of Scripture. The
wondering eyes of the children all turned to his
face, beautiful with the earnestness of his manner,
and the absorbing interest of his subject. His
life had been one of brilliant excitement, of fasci-
nating tumult and ever-increasing anxiety. He
had been connected with the best theatres in
Europe, had been associated with all the famous
artists of his time, had produced an extraordinary
number of successful operas, and had in every
respect been "so diligent in his business" that
" he had stood before kings." He now enjoyed
the rest his toil had earned, but like a wise man
he did not cease from labour, and so raise in idle-
ness an enemy against his own peace.
Even when he accepted an invitation to visit
his daughter Victoire, who had now become
Duchess de Frias, he carried work with him, not
to encumber himself, but to provide a congenial
m.eans for the occupation of hours when it was
necessary for him to be alone. From " Les Eaux
Bonnes " he writes in July, 1865, to his wife. "I
have worked like a Trojan, and have finished the
instrumentation of the accompaniments of all the
pieces I brought with me of the ' Sleeping
Queen.' " This was originally written for piano-
forte and harmonium. The same letter he ends
with an expres3ion which exhibits humour and
modesty. " Now good-bye, my darling. All love
and affection from the Grandezza and Piccolezza."
The Duke de Erias, the husband of the
" grandezza/' was the representative of a very
ancient Spanisli family. His father had acted
as ambassador extraordinary from the Court of
Spain at the coronation of our gracious Queen,
and a far-away ancestor of his was ambassador
plenipotentiary for Spain on the occasion of the
accession of James I. A Spanish pamphlet in the
British Museum Library, dated 1604, gives an
account of the ceremonies observed at that time,
and as quoted by Mr. Wm. Chappell in his
" Popular Music of the Olden Time," vol. ii., p.
408, further says : " The ambassador kissed his-
Majesty's hands, craving at the same time permis-
sion to salute the ladies present, a custom of
which the non-observance on such occasions is
deeply resented by the fair sex of this country,"
and leave was accordingly given.
In the house of his daughter it was that he
commenced to write his opera, "The Knight of
the Leopard," the book of which had been com-
piled by Mr. Arthur Matthison from Sir Walter
Scott's novel the "Talisman." He thus writes to
his wife at Eowney on the 9th of August, 1865 : —
" The air of this place does me a great deal of
good. I have entirely finished composing the first
act of ' King Lion Heart ' libretto, which I
brought away with me, and Vic and Pepe think I
never created anything more charming than a
melody to be sung by the tenor which terminates
act the first. I have completely finished the P. F.
accompaniment of the said act — what think you
of that ? "
Balfe was justly enthusiastic about his work,
which he knew not was to be his last, for he
felt it was his best. It was altogether based upon
different lines than those upon which his former
operas had been built, and the novelty of the
arrangement brought with its contemplation a
complete newness of treatment. The subject
would not admit of the final "I'ondo" for the
prima donna which had ended nearly all his other
operas. The design was broader, grander, and
the disposition of the characters in newer style. He
felt impelled to rise to the exaltation of his subject.
It was English in theme, and he desired to make
it thoroughly English on the manly grip of its
music. He continued his work when he followed
Ms " children " to Biarritz. His daughter Yictoire,
an accomplished musician, a good judge, and,
naturally a great admirer of her father's genius,
in a letter to her mother describes her impres-
sions of the music in words that exhibited the
accuracy of her criticism when in after-years the
opera was placed upon the stage, though neither
she nor her father could share in the delight of the
public at the beauty of the work.
"I wish his lovely opera could be given this
year ; it is beautiful ! I reallj' think his very lest
— such melodies, such a song for the Tenor, quite
schwdrmerisch / Such a duet for the Prima Donna
and Tenor, such an old-fashioned popular melody
for Blondel ! such a March ! such a grand prayer,
and such a lovely bit of organ ! Ah ! it really is
delicious ! The libretto is really interesting, and
there is no vulgar talking on the stage, all recita-
tive. Fancy all the beautiful costumes of the
crusaders quite grand."
All the points mentioned by the Duchess de
Frias, excepting Blondel's song, which was omitted
in the representation, were noted by the public as
the most remarkable in the opera.
Balfe completed the work with the exception of
a portion of the scoring, and the finale. His idea
was to make a grand coup de theatre for the con-
elusion, in wMcli the ships of the European armies
were to be shown. For the right ordering of this
finale he intended consulting his friend Dion
-Boucicault when he returned home to Eowney.
Such pleasures as could be enjoyed out of doors
Balf e indulged in when he stayed with his " chil-
dren " at Biarritz. His daughter, who knew how
necessary it was for him to be careful of his
health, watched over him like a mother, and often
exercised the right of a loving parent when she
deemed it necessary. Here as at home he was
passionately fond of fishing. He had planned an
excursion with a friend, but his daughter per-
suaded him to break his engagement on account
of his health, which he did by writing the follow-
ing characteristic letter: —
" Biarritz, Thursday morning.
"Mt Deae O'Shea,
" The man whose signature is affixed
to this letter is suffering under a smarting com-
plaint. Poor fellow possesses a daughter who is a
grandee of Spain, who so far forgot her grandezza
last night as to (I blush in being obliged to say
it) call her affectionate male parent a DONKEY,,
merely because he said he was going to fish with
Bill O'Shea. She refused to grant a vehicle of
locomotion even with one quadruped attached, and
finished by saying that if her father persisted in
going to the Negresse, that the crime would be of a
blacker dye than she could find a name for. What
do you think of my paternal position ? Under
the circumstances I think it better to reverse the
order of things, and obey my child. Alas ! she
fears her dad would catch cold and not fish.
" Hoping to see you in the course of the day,
" Tour unhappy friend,
" M. W. Balfe,
" Composer of 'Marble Hall.' "
On his way through Paris he called upon St.
Georges, who heard portions of the opera sung by
Madame Mlsson, who was engaged to sing in
London and desired to create the part of Edith,,
urged him to bring out the opera on the stage at
Paris. Balfe, flattered at the memory of past
irniLi s s fflw
iriumphs which the invitation implied, declined on
the ground that he intended the opera for England
first. It was an English subject treated in an
English form, but if it was successful it might be
heard in due course in Paris. St. Georges bade
him au revoir, and not farewell, for he believed
that ere long his countrymen would offer a hearty
welcome to himself and his music on the stage
For nearly two years Balfe lived a happy and
quiet life at Rowney, occupying himself with his
last opera, which he completed' all but the finale,
and with making rather than creating music.
The severe winter of the years 1867-8 tried him
sorely, and so soon as he was strong enough to
bear the fatigue of a journey, he started for a
short trip on the Continent in March of the latter
year. Many changes had occurred in his life and
surroundings in the short period since he was in
Paris for the first time, to which place he turned
by an instinct of gratitude and preference.
Before he started he completed a sonata for
pianoforte and violoncello, and a trio for violin,
violoncello, and pianoforte. These two charming
works he began in 1866, and completed at his
leisure. The sonata was played by Piatti for
whom it was written with Miss Agnes Zimmer-
mann at a Saturday popular concert at St. James's
Hall, on the 22nd March, 1879. The trio had
been presented two years before, on the 17th
March, 1877, with Miss Marie Krebs, Herr
Joachim, and Signor Piatti as the executants.
Of the sonata, it was said, "Had Balfe lived
longer, he might, with facility and advantage,
have devoted more leisure to this form of composi-
tion. His early studies led him to it, and in the
midst of his successful career as a writer of operas
his thoughts must have often wandered back in
that direction. His trio and sonata are proofs of
Of the trio, the same competent hand, that of
Mr. J. W. Davison, writes : " That our late valued
countryman, Michael William Balfe, should have
composed instrumental music for the chamber can
surprise no one. In his early youth Balfe was an
excellent performer on the violin. He also played
the violoncello, and, it need scarcely be added, the
pianoforte. Why then, familiar as he was with
each instrument, should he not have written a trio
for pianOj violin, and violoncello?"
The sonata consists of three movements, namely,
an " Allegro " in A flat major, an " Adagio " in P
minor, and an " Allegro vivace " in A flat major.
The trio has four movements, an " Allegro " in A
major, an "Adagio" in E major, a "Scherzo"
allegro in trio A major, and an " Allegro " (finale)
A major. Both works exhibit Balfe's love for
melody, and for the shapely graces of the old
classical school. Both these works have been pub-
The sonata he also arranged for violin, and in
that form he was wont to play it with his daugh-
ter, Mrs. Behrend, at Eowney Abbey, who with
her sister, the Duchess de Erias, in days gone by
had been a pupil of Davison and Sterndale Ben-
nett. Balfe also wrote several smaller pieces for
the pianoforte which have not been printed. He
wrote for Signor Minasi, the flute player, a con-
certo for his instrument, one version of which was
printed and published in Paris.
His visit to Paris was partly for his health and
partly on business. M. Caivalho, then lessee of
the Theatre Lyrique, proposed to bring out "La
Bohemienne," and had opened negotiations with
Balfe. On the 19th of March, 1868, he left
Dover, arrived in Paris in the evening, found his
daughter, the Duchess de Frias, waiting for him
at the station. On the morrow he called upon his
friend St. Georges, and upon Gerard, and in the
evening was present at a performance of the
" Hamlet " of Amhroise Thomas, Mdlle. Nilsson
and M. Faure sustaining the chief parts. Mne
years before, on the same date, he had witnessed
the first performance of Gounod's "Faust," and
was delighted with the success the opera gained.
He had seen it in its progress towards completion at
the house of Madame Zimmermann, the mother-in-
law of Gounod, and predicted a great future for it.
The arrangements for the production of "La
Boh6mienne " were made with Carvalho; and re-
hearsals were undertaken and commenced. Balfe
heard the tenor proposed for the opera sing the part
of Lionel in " Martha," but " could not accept
him." The prima donna selected was Mdlle. Marie
Marimon. From various causes needless to specify
the performance was not given at that time.
Balfe remained in Paris for a few months, and
had some conversation with De Leuwen, one of
the authors of " Las Qaatre Fils Aymou," about a
new opera, which, however, was not to be written.
Time went on, and Carvalho, yielding to the
pressure of many troubles, relinquished the direc-
torship of the " Theatre Lyrique," and Pasdeloup,
who reigned in his stead, wrote to Balfe at the
suggestion of Mr. de St. Georges, and asked
Balfe to consent to an arrangement whereby he
might open the theatre with " La Boh^mienne "
at the end of the year 1869.
The " old girl," as Balfe was wont to speak of
the opera, had been given a few months before at
Eouen, under the direction of St. Georges, who
had written the French version ; the conductor
being Massenet, who has since made himself
famous by several important compositions. The
author of the book was called for again and again
to accept compliments intended for himself as well
as for the composer.
On the 30th of December Balfe writes, " 'La,
Boh^mienne ' was produced in Paris at Theatre
Lyrique first time. A great and genuine success."
An entirely different company of artists was now
attached to the theatre, and a little delay arose at
the outset because Balf e had heard a new and pro-
mising young vocalist, Mdlle. Marie Eoze, who
was at that time a pupil of Wartel. Her voice
was fresh and resonant, and her youth and the
grace of her personal qualifications made her, in
all respects, such a one as would be in every way
fitted for the part of Arline. Her master was un-
willing, however, to permit her to undertake any
importa.nt character on the stage so soon, so it was-
decided to engage Madame Breunel-Lafleur, arid
she created an extraordinary excitement by her
splendid singing and acting. The part of the-
Queen of the Gipsies was '^ written up" for
Madame Wertenheimer, who also covered herself
with honour by her performance. The mise en
scene was elaborately arranged, and the book and
plans were published for future guidance. Balfe
rewrote the whole of the scoring, and added some
new and fresh ballet music which especially
pleased the Parisians.
More than a quarter of a century had passed
away since the opera was written, and also since
Balfe had made his first success with " Le Puits
d' Amour." There were maay present at the per-
formance of " La Bohemienne " who remembered
the pleasure with which they had welcomed the
early essay of one who was acknowledged to be
still a master in his craft ; the greatest among
modem English musicians, worthy to rank with
the most favoured among French composers. The
favour thus accorded to him by the unanimous
vote of those whose business it is to guide pubUc
opinion was on this occasion only the faithful echo
of that opinion pronounced by the public.
Scarcely had the opera ceased to run when a
more tangible honour awaited him. On the 22nd
. of Marchj 1870, Balfe enters in his diary — ^happily-
saved from the destruction to which he usually
doomed such records — " Received official notice of
the Emperor having conferred upon me the de-
coration of the Legion d'Honneur." Li a line
below and apart are the words, "Monsieur le
Chevalier ! ! ! " as though he was trying the effect
the sentence would produce upon his eye, and
made the endeavour to accustom himself to thfr
sight of his new name. On the 13th of April
following, tlie Eegent of Spain sent from Madrid
a notification of his appointment as Commander of
the Order of Charles III. In May he was still
suffering from the effects of a severe attack of
bronchitis, which had wearied him through the
■winter, and he returned home to Eowney to rest.
The air of Eowney restored him for a while. The
happy days he had passed in his rural retreat were
not to be wholly renewed. His mind dwelt upon
the loss of his daughter, Mrs. Behrend, his much-
loved " Gigia." The whole world had changed for
him, but he seemed outwardly to bear the same
brave spirit as of old, and to enjoy his rest, and
the invigorating air of the place his " darling wife
had made so beautiful" for him. "When the autamn
came, the serious reality of his bodily weakness
was revealed to all but to himself. In September
he caught cold, and his complaint — spasmodic
asthma — was renewed with great violence. He
recovered, however, for a while, only to suffer in
greater proportion afterwards. It was hoped that
while he was for a time better, a change to a more
genial climate might help him to grow stronger,
at all events to prolong his life or relieve his
A sudden change alarmed all around him ; his
old friend Dr. Williams came quickly to see him.
All human hope was vain. Soon after noon on the
20th of October his sufferings were at an end, and
his once busy brain was for ever at rest.
His old friend and literary confrere, Edward,
ritzball, thus sang his threnody : —
MICHAEL WILLIAM BALPE.
Dear sunny Balfe ! and is he dead ?
And all the golden moments fled
In which this joyous child of song
Glided life's sparkling stream along,
And touched the chords of Music's lyro
With genial and poetic fire,
So beautifully sweet to hear,
That kings bent down a listening ear,
And nations wafted to the skies
The fragrance of his melodies !
Yes : he is gone ! and many a day
In Music's span must pass away
Ere such another gifted hand
" The light of other days '' command,
Or sanctify at fancy's calls
The fairy dreams of " Marble Halls."
Strew o'er his grave the choicest flowers
From rosy banks of dewy bowers ;
Or if no drop of dew appears.
They will not lack a people's tears
To shed o'er them a bright relief
From hearts oppressed with earnest grief.
It was not MuBic's spell alone,
Which claimed our Balte as all her own.
For he had manhood's merits too
Suoh as fill up the hearts of few :
The generons soul ; the gentle word ;
The noblest feelings in accord.
He knew no enTy — grudged no pains
To amplify a brother's gains.
Bury him in some leafy dale
Where sings at eve the nightingale,
Or where at dawn the lark on high
Peals its soft tribute from the sty,
Floating o'er one who liked the song
Of summer birds : all Nature's throng
To charm, as, in Arcadian days.
The vales and mountains with his lays,
Notes of Apollo.
Best, Baipe, rest.
Than thine ne'er throbbed a kinder breast ;
'Others may come with skill as great.
But hardly one to emulate
A soul like thine : to blazon forth,
At once, mind, genius, taste, and worth.
The news of his death fell with heavy blow upon
all the musical world. Many of his confreres
strove to give expression to their regret at his de-
parture. The public felt that they had lost a dear
and valued friend. All those who had known him
seemed to be overweighted with grief. The ceme-
tery at Eensal Green was filled with friends all
mourning. It was a consolation to them to recall
their remembrance o£ his kind heart, his manly
spirit, his generous and thoughtful care for the
best interests of all with whom he came in con-
When in time his heart-broken widow placed a
simple monumental stone over his grave to mark
Ms remains, men began to rouse themselves, and
to inquire of each other the reason they had not
thought to pay greater honour to the memory
of one who had done so much for the elevation of
the art he professed and the profession to which
he belonged. Had his years been occupied with.-
those pursuits which bring misery and desolation
in their train, none would hare denied his right to-
be recognised in the manner usual with such
heroes after his death.
He lies in the same " campo santo " with Bishop,
Wallace, Lover, Goss, and others whose names will
" live for evermore."
His life was spent in the exercise of peaceful
arts, and his genius has brought pleasure and
even happiness wherever his works were known.
His body should have rested in the time-honoured
abbey of Westminster. It was too late to seek
that distinction now, but it was not too late to
ask permission to place a tablet on the walls of
the building, that posterity might know that his
contemporaries had not been ungrateful, or un-
mindful of his genius.
A memorial was signed by a number of in-
fluential persons of all ranks in the social and
artistic world, and presented to the Dean of West-
minster, Dr. Arthur Penrhyn Stanley. He duly
acknowledged the receipt of the memorial, and
stated his intention of finding a place for the pro-
posed tablet wlien he returned home after the
holiday he was about to take. The memorialists
■waited in silence, and in not a little anxiety, for
a long time for a communication from the Dean.
When some four years had elapsed it was deemed
expedient to present a reminder in the form of a
second letter on the subject. This was signed by
Bis Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh,
President of the Eoyal Academy of Music, Dub-
lin, the Duke of Abercorn, the Lord Mayor of
Dublin, the Archbishop of Armagh, the Arch-
bishop of Dublin, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland,
the Duke of Leinster, the Bishop of Limerick,
the Bishop of Derry, the Dean of St. Patrick's,
Dean MacDonnell, the Master of the Polls, Vis-
count Monck, and the Eev. Lord O'Mell. Mr..
Hercules MacDonnell was the secretary.
Dean Stanley's reply was as follows : —
22nd June, 1873:.
Mt dear Sir,
I beg to acknowledge the Address which I have had the
tonour to receive from you, signed by His Eoyal Highness the
Duke of Edinburgh and other distinguished persons, with a letter
from yourself, dated June 8th, in reference to the erection of a
Monumental Tablet in Westminster Abbey, in memory of the late
I have delayed to reply, partly from ateence in the conntry,
partly from the desire to give full consideration to the reqnest
contained in the Memorial and in your letter.
With every wish to accede to a desire so forcibly expressed,
and supported by so many eminent names, I am compelled to
adhere to the same answer which I have already given on more
than one occasion in reference to this and similar applications —
that I cannot, in consideration of the limited space in the Abbey
and its Cloisters, and of the demands of those who shall come
after us, admit, unless in exceptional cases, the increase of Ceno-
taphs, until I have received from the Government the assurance
that the accommodation for such monuments will be enlarged, so
as to give additional room for their suitable erection.
I have been led to hope that such assurance will be given,
but I have not yet been able to succeed in obtaining it ; and
you will, therefore, understand that I am, for the present, de-
barred from acceding to a request which it would have given me
so much pleasure to satisfy, both from the desire to meet the
wishes of the distinguished persons who have applied and also to
render honour to a gifted native of the Sister Island.
I beg to remain, my dear Sir,
Akthue p. Stanley.
To Hercules MacDonnell, Esq., J.P., &c.
Meanwhile Balfe's name was once more brought
pleasantly before the public by the production of
his opera, " The Knight of the Leopard," on the
stage of Drury Lane Theatre by Mr. Mapleson,
the son of the generous old copyist of the theatre.
Madame Christine Nilsson had kept her word to
Balfe, and sang in the opera she admired so much
in Paris, but it was not in English, but in Italian,
The opera was now called " II Talismano," and .
the translation from the original tongue was made
by Signor Guiseppe Zaffira most elegantly. It was
promised for the season of 1873, but was produced
on the 11th of June, 1874.
This opera was received by the whole press with
delight. The success was instant and signal. The
notice in the Times newspaper a day or two follow-
ing the performance conveyed the views of musi-
cians and of the public,
"The predictions of those who believed in a
genuine success for Balfe's posthximous opera are
fully justified by the result. It has been given
five times within a short period, and a sixth per-
formance is announced. That ' II Talismano ' is
destined to become one of the most generally
attractive of its composer's works there cannot, in
our opinion, be a doubt. It contains a more than
usually liberal share of those characteristic melo-
dies which proclaim Balfe's individuality, and to
which, in a great measure, he owed his wide ac-
ceptance as, after his manner, the operatic Eng-
lish composer of his day.
" Among them are ' Placida Notte ' (' Edith's
.Prayer '), sung by Madame Christine Nilsson ;
'Candido Fiore' (the 'Eose Sotig'), and 'A
te coU'anre sera/ both by Signer Campanini ; ' La
Guerra Appena ' (' Eomance of Navarre '), the
'Canzona d'Evelina,' and 'Nella Dolce Trepi-
darga' — the first by Madame Marie Eoze, the
second and third by Madame Christine Mlsson.
These all bear the true stamp of their author, and'
some of them — the ' Eose Song ' especially, which
Mr. Sims Eeeves (for whom it was specially
written) introduced not long since at his benefit
at the Eoyal Albert Hall — are already making
their way into our concert rooms, where the name
of 'Balfe' has always exercised a spell. But
leaving the rest of the music to speak for itself,
there are other reasons why ' II Talismano ' is suc-
cessful. Four or five among the dramatis personoe
enjoy excellent opportunities for effect, which if
not taken advantage of, neither the author of the
libretto nor the author of the music can be blamed.
Fortunately the leading parts are in very com-
petent hands at Her Majesty's Opera. The chief
attraction, the life and soul of the performance, is
Madame Nilsson, who makes far more out of Edith
Plantagenet. than at first sight could have ap-
peared possible. The popular Swedish songstress
gives the whole of her music in perfection, and
endows the character she has to assume with vivid
and natural life. The task voluntarily undertaken
by Madame Mlsson in order to serve our late com-
patriot has been fulfilled with unmistakable good-
will, and the applause which greets her on every
occasion is not solely due to the professional ex-
cellence displayed in a part she has evidently
studied con amore, but to another reason besides,
upon which, after what has been said, it would be
superfluous to dwell., How much interest Sir
Michael Oosta has taken in the preparation for
public performance of the last work of one with
whom he was on close terms of friendship is toler-
ably well known in musical circles. What im-
portance was attached by the management to the
production of ' II Talismano ' is seen by the way in
which it is placed upon the stage. Mr. W". Bever-
ley has contributed scenery which, though not
laid out on an unusually extensive scale, is pic-
turesque even for him, and the ' stage business ' is
admirably cared for hy Mr. Stirling, who, not for
tlie first time, has been more or less directly con-
cerned in helping to get up an opera of Balfe's."
Mr. Desmond L. Ryan^ in an exhaustive tech-
nical and appreciative analysis of the opera, in-
serted in Kenney's "Memoir of Balfe," thus
estimates the work as a whole : —
"Looking at 'II Talismano' from the stand-
point of pure art, it will be found to depend upon
its intrinsic fund of pure, wholesome melody. . . .
The time, however, is perhaps not ripe for a just
estimate of Balfe's posthumous work to be made.
We have leanings towards the man, as well as for
or against the musician, which it must take a
long course of years to neutralize. But it will be
generally admitted and conceded that ' II Talis-
mano,' albeit a departure from his accepted school
of composition, was one of Balfe's happiest and
soundest efPorts, and the form, artistically speak-
ing, is as much superior to his earlier productions
in opera as Beethoven's ' Eroica ' symphony is an
advance upon his first. Balfe did not live to see
his best ideas realized, but the very existence of
' II Talismano ' proves that he was not only a man.
-who moved with, the timeSj but that he had the apt
discrimination to choose between the salutary and
meretricious qualities of the modern school of music.
'II TalismanOj' in the abstract, was but an experi-
ment in a new field of lyric composition ; as such it
enlists our sympathies, and commands our admira-
tion. The opera is a wholesome and forcible
dramatic work, and the latent power which it re-
veals renders our respect the stronger, and our
sorrow the more poignant that its gifted composer
was not spared us to make still _greater efforts in
the same direction."
Without despairing to obtain ultimately the
national recognition of Balfe's genius by the erec-
tion of a tablet in Westminster Abbey, his friends,
determined to place a memorial in some other suit-
able spot. Mr. T. Chappell, Mr. C. L. Gruneisen,
and Mr, Dion Boucicault formed a committee, and
a sufficient amount of money was raised to help
the project. It was proposed to erect a statue,
and the commission to execute this was entrusted
to M, Malempre, a Belgian sculptor, who ac-
quitted himself of the task in a most satisfactory
manner. The statue was placed, in company with
those of Edmund Kean, David Garriclr, and
Shakespeare, in the vestibule of Drury Lane
Theatre, vfhere the genius of Balfe had been most
fully revealed and highly honoured.
The ceremony of unveiling the statue took
place on Friday, the 25th of September, 1874, in
the presence of a completely representative assem-
bly — Lord Alfred Paget, Sir George Armitage,
Baron Rothschild, Sir Michael Costa, Messrs.
Gruneisen, G. A. Macfarren, F. Puzzi, Chattertou,
Creswick, J. W . Davisou, "W. D. Davison, Lazarus,
Maycock, T. Chappell, Matthison, Eaphael Costa,
Emanuel Garcia, the brother of Malibran, George
Osborne, August Manns, Brinley Richards, Charles
Santley, George Honey, Charles Lyall, C. L.
Kenney, Joseph Bennett, W. Ganz, J. Fernandez,
T. Graves, Thomas Oliphant, Andrew Halliday,
John Hollingshead, G. A. Sala, Michael Williams,
Edward Falconer, Henry Phillips, and others.
Mr. Gruneisen, as the secretary, explained that
in the unavoidable absence of Mr. Boucicault and
Sir Julius Benedict, he had been called upon to
take the chair, and this gave him the oppor-
tunity of referring to Balfe's unprecedented
• career as a composer. He also mentioned with,
pride that this was the first time a statue had
been raised to any native musical composer in
" The speaker addressed himself to sympathetic
hearers whenever he dwelt upon the genius of him
whom they had met to honour, and the close of
his remarks was followed by applause. The duty
■of unveiling the statue having been offered to, and
accepted by, Sir Michael Costa, that gentleman
stepped forward and removed the curtain. A mo-
ment of silent inspection followed the act, and
then a round of cheering marked the approval of
the critical assembly, most of whom had known
Balfe well. The statue, which is about seven feet
in height, represents the master in the act of com-
position, holding a manuscript in the left hand
and a pen in the right. Nothing is wanting of
ease and grace in the pose of the figure, the ex-
pression of the countenance is refined and pleas-
ing, while dignity and breadth of outline are
secured by the artistically arranged folds of the
cloak, worn so as to leave the right shoulder and
Nearly two years after the statue was set in its
place, a Balfe festival was given at the Alexandra
Palace on Muswell Hill, the object of which was
to raise a fund to endow a scholarship in the
name of the popular composer at the Eoyal Aca-
demy of Music, an institution for which Balfe-
always expressed a great amount of sympathy and
The committee who made the arrangements for
the festival included the Principal of the E,oyal
Academy of Music, Dr. Macfarren, and other
gentlemen of position in the musical world. The
day fixed was the 29th of July, 1 876, and as may
be expected music formed a special feature of the
proceedings. Mr. Frederic Archer, then the
organist of the Palace, had been very active in Ms
help on the committee, played in his own inimita-
ble style on the large organ a selection from
" The Bondman," " The Eose of Castille,"
" Blanche de Severs," " Catherine Grey,""
" Joan of Arc," " Mazeppa," and " The Puritan^s
Daughter." At the concert Madame Christine
Nilsson, Madame Eose Hersee, Madame Marie
Eoze, Miss Enriquez, Mr. Maybrick, Mr. H..
Eeynolds, and Mr. Edward Lloyd, with an
orchestra and chorus performed selections from
"II Talismano," "The Maid of Artois," "Fal-
staff/' "The Enchantress," "The Maid of
Honour," and "The Siege of Eochelle," under
the direction of Sir Michael Costa; "The
Bohemian Girl" was represented in the theatre
with Mr. H. Weist Ilill as conductor, and a
military band also played pieces by Balfe in the
gardens and elsewhere several times during the
day. There was no lack of variety or contrast in
the works, for all that the name of the composer
appended to the list showed an unbroken uni-
formity. The festival was a success artistically
and financially, and the Balfe scholarship was
founded, and the great musician's name was per-
petuated in the Academy after a manner which,
would have fully commended itself to. him had he
been alive. His sympathies were always with the
institution which in his youth he had desired to-
enter, but had, it appears, done nothing more-
beyond putting his name down for admission.
The example set by England in erecting a monu-
ment to Balfe in tlie recognised national theatre
Drurj Lane and otherwise commemorating his
genius was shortly afterwards followed in Ireland.
One of the leading Irish journals in commenting
upon the action done in London^ says : — " The
name of Michael Balfe, one of the brightest that
has illuminated the pages of musical history in
the England of our day^ is dear to every lover of
art in the country that gave him birth. We trust
that at no distant period a fitting memorial of his
exalted genius, will be erected in the Irish
metropolis side by side with those of Burke and
Goldsmith ; men, who like him, brought the best
gifts of their brilliant minds, and the warm
fervour of their Irish hearts to the service of the
sister isle, but at the same time it seems congenous
that the country in which he passed the greater
part of his public life, for whose music he has done
SO muchj whose national opera he helped to
establish and adorn, to whose musical archives he
has given such works, as ' The Rose of Castille/
and ' The Bohemian Girl,' should take heed to
honour the memory of the dead musician, upon
whose living brow no one of the crowns with which
royalty rewards genius was placed."
Following this suggestion a " Balfe Memorial
Committee " was formed, and ajUeot of Balfe was
placed in the National Gallery in Dublin on the
6th of July, 1878, near to the busts of other
illustrious Irishmen, Archbishop Murray, Thomas
Moore, the poet, Maclise, the painter, Curran and
Shiel, the famous orators. The bust of Balfe, an
elegant piece of workmanship and spirited likeness
was executed by Thomas Farrell, R.H.A. Owing
to the iUness of the Duke of Leinster, Sir Bernard
Burke, Ulster King-at-Arms, presided. Mr. Her-
cules MacDonnell read the report of the sub-
committee which stated that the balance of the
money collected would be appropriated to the
foundation of a prize for the composition of a song,
by a musician of Irish birth.
Sir Robert P. Stewart the amiable and talented
Professor of Music in Trinity College, Dublin, also
gave three lectures on " Irisli music and musicians
ending with Balfe," in the Ancient Concert Rooms
in Dublin on the 29th May, the 5th and 12th of
June in the same year, and devoted the proceeds
to the erection of a memorial window in St.
Patrick's Cathedral. This was uncovered by her
Grace the Duchess of Marlborough, on the 14th
The window was designed and made by Ballan-
tine and Son, of Edinburgh, and represents Erin
leaning upon a harp — modelled from the harp of
Brian Boroimhe preserved in Trinity College, — and
crowning the bust of the Museum. She is attired
in a white robe, with a broad green mantle, and
wears a tearful countenance, typical of Ireland's
grief at the death of Balfe.
The following is the inscription: — "In memory
of Michael William Balfe, born in Dublin, May
1 5th, 1808 ; died at Eowney Abbey, Hertfordshire,
October 20th, 1870; the most celebrated, genial,
and beloved of Irish musicians. Erected April,
1879, by R. P. Stewart, Ent., Mus. D., one of the
J,^ P-^TT^ICIfJ C/fTf^ED^J)t,I)lJSLIfl'
Upon the front of the house, No. 10, Pitt Street,
a tablet of marble has been placed by the occupant'
Mr. John Logan, a practical musician himself,
and a great admirer of Balfe's talents. This
records the fact that : — " In this house M. W.
Balfe was born, 1808."
All these worthy efforts to commemorate the
genius of one who had brought honour to the craft
to which he belonged, were most gratifying. Their
value was recognised on all sides. By those who
desired to show to posterity the estimation in
Avhich Balfe was held, and by those who believed
that an equally good monument was erected in the
hearts of all who loved his music, a more
-enduring record was still asked, and the fulfilment
of the promise made by Dean Stanley was
anxiously looked for. Before he was able to
fulfil his promise, society and the whole civilised
world had to mourn his loss, and the promise
lie had made remained unaccomplished. When
Dr. Bradley was appointed and installed Dean
of Westminster in the room of Dean Stanley,
the application was renewed, at a time, as it was
considered, that was singularly opportune.
The Prince of Wales following in the footsteps
of his illustrions father, expressed his desire to see
a National School of Music founded in this
country. This project naturally directed attention
to the few great musicians England had nurtured..
Of these Balfe was the chief. With the exception
of the statue in Drury Lane there was no honour
paid to his memory in England. His face and
name were not admitted to rank with the eminent
Englishmen commemorated on the monument to-
the Prince Consort in Hyde Park. Sterndale-
Bennett, a representatiye musician in a different
style of art to that practised by Balfe, was also for-
gotten. Sir Henry Bishop's features alone was
figured forth as representing the champions of
modern native music.
There was probahly no wilful desire to ignore
the claims of musicians to a place on a monument
to one who all his life loved the art, and honoured
its professors, but tliere was no advocate whose
voice was powerful enough to be heard in pre-
ferring the claim at the time.
The professors of the Universities, the organists,
of the several English cathedrals, other musicians-
eminent in various departments of the artj once
more sought to be heard on behalf of a musician
whose genius they all honoured. An address
couched in the following terms, was presented to
the Dean of Westminster, preceded by a statement
of the reasons for making the request : —
Balfe was the first British Composer to elevate the English
Lyric Drama to a high position in this Coantry ; so was he also
the first native subject who was able to compete on the Continent
with foreign Composers, and produce in France, Germany, Italy
and Spain, the works of a British Musician. His prolific creative
power is best proved by the published list of the works produced
in England and on the Continent. Balfe wrote twenty-nine
Operas, three of them to French text for original production in
Paris, five to Italian librettos and the other twenty-one to English
words. Not only did he write these twenty-nine Lyrical Diamas,
but he produced them successfully. To this record of inventive
industry, may be added his celebrated setting of many of Long-
fellow's Poems, three Cantatas, countless songs, and other com.
positions. His melodies have not only cheered every homestead
in Britain, but have become so popular that they may be called
National. In the Colonies and in the United States, the name of
Balfe is as much a household word as in the heart of London,
equal, as a Musician, to Dickens, as a Novelist, if the widest
popularity counts as a test.
Balfe was the Champion of English Musical Art, not only at
home, but abroad. Ic was his peculiar province to support the
dignity of English Dramatic Composition on the Continent, and
to prove that the possession of executive and creative faculties
in the same individual is by no means incompatible. Such a
career as that of Balfe is rare and unprecedented in the Kingdom,
and it will be through his genius and that of such as follow him,
that our eountrymen will, sooner or later, be compelled to re-
linquish the prevalent prejudice against English Musical
His genius was honoured by Toreign Potentates. In. France
he was made Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur ; in Spain he was
created Commendatore of the Order of Carlo III.
As there now exists a disposition to foster native talent and to
encourage it to its full development, it seems to be both right
and proper that future generations should be able to note with
pride, that English genius was not unmarked and unregarded by
those living in the present time.
In the belief that his talents brought honour to the Country,
and that his name deserves to be nationally recorded, it is pro-
posed to send the following Memorial to The Very Eeverend the
Dean of Westminster, which has been signed by the Professors of
Music in the Universities, by eminent Conductors, heads of
Musical Educational establishments, and by a majority of the
Organists of the Cathedrals in the United Kingdom.
May 4th, 1882.
Veky Eevekend Sik,
We, whose names are appended hereto, desire
to add our testimony to the claim of Michael William Balfe
as a representative National Composer ; and to express our
earnest hope that you will accede to the request to allow a Tablet
to be placed in Westminster Abbey, to the memory of a Musician,
whose genius and achievements won for him, during his lifetime,
a high reputation, not only among his countrymen, but also upon
the Continent of Europe.
To the Very Eeverend Dean of Westminster.
Signed by —
PEEDK. A. GOEE OUSELET, Bart., M.A., Mus. Doc, Oxon.,
Precentor of Hereford, and Professor of
Music in the University of Oxford.
G. A. MACFAEEEN, M.A., Mus. Doc, Oxon., Mus. Doc, Cantab.,
Principal of the Eoyal Academy of Music ;
Professor of Music in the University
EOBEET PEESCOTT STEWAET, Knight, Mus. Doc, Dnb.,
Organist of Christ Church and St. Patrick's,
Dublin; Professor of Music, Trinity
HEEBEET S. OAKELEY, Knight, M.A., Mas. Doc, Oxon.,
Professor of Music in the University of
GEORGE J. ELYEY, Knight, Mas. Doc, Oxon.,
Organist of St. George's Chapel, Windsor.
-JOHN FEEDEEICK BRIDGE, Mus. Doc, Oxon.,
Permanent Deputy Organist of Westminster
JOHN STAINEE, M.A., Mus. Doc, Oxon.,
Organist of St. Paul's Cathedral.
GEORGE BENSON, Mus. Bac, Cantab.,
Of Her Majesty's Chapel Eoyal, and
GEOEGE 11. GAEEETT, M.A., Mus. Doc, Cantab.,
St. John's College, Cambridge.
JAMES TAYLOE, Mus. Bac, Oxon.,
Organist of New College ; Organist of the
University of Oxford.
WALTEE PAEEATT, Mus. Bac, Oxon.,
Organist of Magdalen College, Oxford.
W. HOWELL ALLCHIN, Mus. Bac, Oxon.,
Organist of St. John's College, Oxford.
THOMAS H, COLLINSON, Mus. Bac, Oxon.,
Organist of the Cathedral, Edinburgh.
PHILIP AEMES, Mus. Doc, Oxon ,
Organist of Durham Cathedral, and Pro.
f essor of Music in the University.
JOHN DUNNE, Mus. Doc, Dub.,
Vicar Choral, St. Patrick's.
MICHAEL COSTA, Knight.
WILLIAM GEORGE CUSINS,
Conductor of the Philharmonic Society
Master of Her Majesty's Music.
Conductor of the Albert Hall Choral
Society, and Conductor of the Music
at Eton College.
Conductor of the Eoyal Albert Hall
HENRY BILES, Mns. Doc, Oxon.,
Professor of Harmony, Owen's College,
HENRY WEIST HILL,
Principal of the Guildhall School of Music.
JOHN HULLAH, LL.D.,
Her Majesty's Inspector of Music in
HENRY WTLDE, Mns. Doc, Cantab.,
Gresham Professor of Music ; Principal of
the London Academy of Music.
Pounder of the Musical Union ; Professor
of Music in the London Institution.
HENRY GADS BY,
Professor of Harmony, Queen's College,.
CHARLES HARFORD LLOYD, M.A., Mus. Bac, Oxon.,
Organist of Gloucester Cathedral.
J. C. MARKS, Mus. Doc, Oxon.,
Organist of the Cathedral, Cork.
J. B. LOTT, Mus. Bac, Oxon.,
Organist of the Cathedral, Lichfield.
ROLAND ROGERS, Mus. Doc, Oxon.,
Organist of Bangor Cathedral.
CHARLES STEGGALL, Mua. Doc, Cantab.,
Organist of Lincoln's Inn.
BURNHAM W. HORNER, P.R.S.L.,
Assistant Organist, Chapel Royal, Hampton
EDWIN J. CROW, Mns. Doc, Cantab.,
Organist of Ripon Cathedral.
Wis TM If/s T£ 7^ AmB£ Y".
LANGDON COLBOENE, Mus. Bao., Cantab.,
Organist of Hereford CathedreJ.
EDWARD BUNNETT, Mus. Doc, Cantab.,
Organist to the Corporation, Norwich.
JOSEPH C. BRIDGE, M.A., Mns. Bao., Oxon.,
Organist of the Cathedral, Chester.
GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA.
WM. ALEX. BARRETT, Mus. Bao., Oxon.,
Vicar Choral, St. Paul's Cathedral.
To this a favourable reply was receired, and the
Dean with the utmost courtesy and consideration
himself selected a place for the tablet, and in every
way exhibited the kindest and liveliest interest in
The whole musical world recognised the honour
as one paid in a minor degree to Balfe, in a major
degree to all native musicians. The tablet was
placed in the north-west aisle, almost side by side
with the monuments to Henry Purcell, and Dr.
Samuel Arnold, close to the tomb of William
Stemdale Bennett, and opposite the monuments
of Dr. John Blow, and Dr. William Croft.
The tablet is of pure white Carrara marble. On
the lower panel is the inscription : — " Michael
William Balfe. Born in Dublin, the 15th of May,
1808, died at Eowney Abbey, Hertfordshire, the
20tli of October^ 1870." On the moulding belo-nr
are the words : — " Knight of the Legion of
Honour of France, Commander of the Order of
Charles III., of Spain." Resting on the top of the
panel is an oval medallion portrait of Balfe. On
one side of the medallion are shown books of the
scores of ''The Talisman," and "The Bohemian
Girl." On the other side may be seen the ends of
some musical instruments of the oboe type, and a
page of a music book, opened at random as it were,.
at the song in " The Bohemian Girl." The words
exhibited convey their own application —
There may, perhaps, in such a scene
Some recollection be
Of days that once have happy been,
Then you'll remember me.
The tablet was unveiled on the twelfth anni-
versary of his death, the 20th of October, 1882.
During the afternoon service an anthem of his
composition, adapted to English words beginning
" Save me, God," from the " Gratias agimus," and
" Agnus Dei," written in 1846, was sung in the
place proper, and all that was arranged for that
day within those hallowed walls with reference to-
Balfe was a fitting end to the earthly career of
one who found English operatic art comparatively
pooTj and left it absolutely rich, not only by the
possession of his own works, but also by those
produced in emulation of his example.
A coMPiETE list of Balfe's compositions would be
difficult, if not impossible, to compile. The only
catalogue he drew up is the following : —
1. I Eivali di se Stessi, Palermo ... ... 1829
2. Un ATvertimenti di Geloai, Pavia ... 1830
3. Enrico quarto al passo del Marno, Milano 1831
4. Siege of Eochelle 1835
B. Maid of Artois 1836
6. Catherine Grey 1837
7. Joan of Arc 1837
8. Diadeste 1838
9. Falstaff 1838
10. Keolanthe 1841
1 1. Le PuitB d'Amonr 1843
12. The BoheBiian Girl 1843
13. The Daughter of St. Mark 1844
14. Lea Quatre Fils Aymon ... ... 1844
15. The Enchantress 1845
16. L'Etoile de Seville 1845
17. The Bondman 1846
18. The Devil's in it 1847
19. The Maid of Honour 1847
20. The Sicilian Bride 1852
.^1. The Kose of Castille 1857
-22. Satanella 1858
.23. Bianca 1860
24. The Puritan's Daughter 1861
25. The Armourer of Nantes ... ... 1863
26. Pittore e Duca, Trieste 1856
27. Blanche de Nevers ... ... ...
He has also produced several cantatas — one
written for Malibran in Paris, 1828, one for Grisi
in Bologna in 1830, tlie International Ode in 1851,
the Cantata for female Toices, written for the
.singers of the Opera, the dramatic Cantata
" Mazeppa," in 1860, besides the unperformed
operas of Atila, Elfrida, and the uncompleted and
untitled work begun in 1848. From the time
of the composition of the Polacca in 1815,
"Young Fanny " in 1817, to the year 1870, when
he wrote his last ballad, he gave to the world
more than 500 different songs, duets, and small
pieces, set to English, French, or Italian words.
A great number of these have been published,
.and have attained world-wide fame. A quantity
of lesser pieces written by him in the exercise of
his official duties as conductor and so forth can
never be counted, except as helping to swell the
xecord of his astonishing industry and fertility.
His labours in the cause of art are further shown
by the care and skill with which he produced for
the first time in England, among other operas,
while he was conductor at Her Majesty's Theatre,
Verdi's "Nino" or "Nabucco," his "Masna-
dieri " — founded on Schiller's " Eobbers " — for
Jenny Lind, Halevy's " Tempesta," for Lablache
and Carlotta Grisi, libretto originally written by
Scribe for Mendelssohn, but declined by him, as
departing too much from the text of Shakespeare,
Thalberg's "Florinda" for Cruvelli, "'Pidelio"
for the first time on the Italian stage, and " Don
Giovanni/' in a style which had not been ap-
proached up to that time, and has never been
Among the songs Balfe wrote which have be-
come popular to an unprecedented extent, and have-
exercised an extraordinary influence over the
popular mind, may be mentioned by way of re-
sume: "The Lover's Mistake," 1817; "Cottage
near Eochelle," 1835; "The Light of othei-
Days," 1836 ; " Look forth, my fairest," 1837 ;
" Might I march through life again," 1837 ; " My
bark is bounding near," 1838; "0 Qnal Gioia,"
1838 ; " Andrea," 1841 ; "Marble Halls," « The
heart bowed down," " Then you'll remember me,"
1843; "The Gondolier," "We may be happy
yet," 1844 ; " Child of the Sun," "It is not form,
it is not face," 1846; "In this old chair," 1847;;
"Come into the garden, Maud," " Good-niglit,
beloved," "The green trees," "The Muleteer,"
1857; "The power of love," 1858; "They tell
me thou'rt the favoured guest," " The blighted
flower," "The Cantineer," "The Merry Zin-
gara," "Margaretta," "The Eose Song," and
many more less typical, besides such choral pieces
as " Vive le Eoi," " The Gipsies' Chorus," « The
Pirate Chorus," and others which will present
themselves to the minds of the admirers of Balfe's
music. The mere mention of the titles at once
suggests the melodies proper to them ; they are
inseparably connected and associated in a manner
which has become proverbial.
The last song Balfe wrote was in 1869 for Sims
Eeeves, whose voice and artistic qualities he ad-
mired in the highest degree. It was based upon
the model of the famous "Come into the garden,.
Maud," also written for Eeeves, which, when it
was finished and sent from Paris for the approval
of the great tenor, the reply received was charac-
teristic and prompt, "Yes, it will do." How
Eeeves made the song " do " all the world knows.
It may be interesting to state in this place that-=
■when the Prince of Wales visited Paris for the
Exhibition of 1879 English music was represented
by two of Balfe's pieces at one concert. The trio,
" Vorrei Parlar/' from " Palstaff," and " Come
into the garden," sung by Mr. Maas, and most en-
thusiastically encored. The Parisians agreed with
Sims Eeeves's estimate of the song.
The conditions under which his own operas were
produced have been already set forth in these pages
before the reader. Their effect upon the world of
art may also be gathered from the same source.
It is pleasant to recall the memories associated
with so much good and worthy work, and to specu-
late upon the enormous amount of pure pleasure
which that work has been the means of conveying
to the hearts, not only of the countrymen of the
author, but also of those whose speech is different,
but who are at one with him in their love of music.
Balfe's melodies, pure, natural, and true, not
only find an echo in every heart, but they take up
permanent abode there. Those who knew the
composer best were wont to say that the charm of
his society, and the fascination of his manner,
were irresistible. He exercised a spell over all
witli whom he came in contact, without in the
least degree striving to be " all things to all men."
He was not free from the weaknesses of mankind,^
but in disposition and character he was open and
honest. He never scorned the advantages which
were pressed upon him because of his genius, but
he never employed his genius to augment the
number of his advantages. Undaunted in courage,,
elastic in spirit, ever ready and ever able, he used
the gifts with which he was so richly endowed to-
the benefit of his countrymen, and to elevate the
art he always loved and honoured.
The ingenuousness and simplicity of his nature
is everywhere reflected in his music. His melodies
are of such a character that when the initial phrase-
falls upon the ear, the ear proposes the sequencc
This sequence is so natural, that no other succes-
sion of notes but those which are written can
satisfy the senses. There is no apparent effort of
labour, no smelling of the lamp, no exercise- of
scientific contrivance thrust in by the neck and
shoulders, as it were, for the sake of pedantry.
There is no finding out of a strange chord and
building up a passage to exhibit it j there are no
Ugly progressions introduced for the sake of show-
ing a contempt for the graces of art, and the posi-
tion of superiority in the writer. All is form-like,
but never formal. All is shapely, but the outline
is never obtained by the introduction of artificial
aids. His work is familiar, but never common-
place. Even when in the exuberance of the
moment his melodies have been given in all con-
ceivable forms at all conceivable times, and have
been so oft repeated that it ' seems impossible to
escape from them, and they are by undesired asso-
ciation with the incidents of every-day life, made
worn and hackneyed and common, those same
melodies, heard after a long interval of rest, fall
upon the ear with refreshing sweetness, and'bring
in their train only the pleasant portion of the me-
mories of the past.
The touch of melancholy which may be traced
in the greater number of his phrases commends
itself with particular force to Englishmen. His
melodies find out the tender spots in the heart,
whether they express joy or sorrow. Hence his
popularity with all classes. Educated musicians
who review Balfe's works will find that, while he
possessed a peculiar gift in aa inexhaustible vein
of tunefulness, he was fully acquainted with the
resources of art, and was perfectly conversant
with all that was required of a scholarly writer.
It was wisdom, and not incapacity, which prompted
him to refrain from the exercise of a mode of
writing which, according to the form he selected
for expression, must have been incongruous. Had
he written fugues in his choruses and ensembles,
as he was well able to do, he might have satisfied
a few to whom such a device is particularly dear,
but the majority he appealed to would have felt
that his pedantry was superfluous, and had spoiled
the situations in which they might have appeared.
A reference to the original scores of his operas,
placed in the library of the British Museum by his
widow, reveals a series of most interesting facts
concerning his mode of writing. The one which
has chiefest interest for the public is the grace
with which he wrote for the several instruments of
the orchestra. He gave all enough to say for the
purpose in hand, and never compelled them to be
obtrusive or coarse. There is no noise for the sake
of noise, there is no exuberance of sound which
reminds the hearer of the zealous but misguided
efforts of village bands, whose faith in the amount
of work done is reckoned by the bustle made in
doing it. Above all there is no vulgarity.
In the choice of subjects for his operas Balfe-
exhibited equally good taste. In not one is there
any questionable situation or expression. The-
plots of his operas are all interesting, and some
are exciting, but their interest and excitement are
not due to actions or motives of which right-
minded men scarcely dare to speak of to each other.
On the stage Balfe was by predilection a moral
teacher. There is no sensuous swim in his music^
. no association with doubtful actions, or connection
with words of equivocation, to carry the soul to
regions of impurity. All is honest, tender, manly,
straightforward, and true.
When the time arrives, and the long-hoped-for
national English opera is established, Balfe's
works will be found not to be old in form or style..
The subjects will also commend themselves to a
discriminating public, for " the fashion of a thing
may change," but decency will never be without
The rSpertoire of a national opera will not be
complete without such works as " The Siege of
Eochelle," "The Bondman," "The Bohemian
Girl," « The Eose of CastiUe," " Satanella," and
"The Puritan's Daughter." To this may be
added his last and greatest work, " The Knight of
the Leopard," as "H Talismano" should be in
English. All these are varied in style and in-
teresting in treatment, and fitly and fully repre-
sent the genius of Balfe at the several stages of
his wonderful career, and also show English music
in its most acceptable forms.
As a musician, Balfe stands out in bold relief,
even among the numbers of great artists by whom
he was surrounded and among whom he laboured.
Had not his genius been considered to be worthy
to be ranked with the best of the French masters,
he would not have been invited to write operas for
the stage in Paris. No other Englishman had
been so distinguished. This was not all. Italy
was proud to honour him in like shape, and Ger-
many had sought out his music and taken it to
her heart. The universal acceptance of his work,
and the fact that it holds permanent place, is a
proof that it is of no ordinary type, no ephemeral
concession to passing fancy. That it has lived,
and deserves to live, is due to its inherent merit,
and the charm it exercises over the mind ap.^
With the exception of Handel, no musician in
this or any European country has ever enjoyed so
much fame while living as Michael William Balfe.
None others but they have exercised sway over
the sympathies and affections of a people for so
long a period. For thirty years Handel was the
idol of society in London, but while he lived hi§
works were known only in the country in which
they were produced. It was not until after his
death that his fame was extended to foreign coun-
tries. Balfe's music woil recognition abroad while
he was yet alive, and in many a theatre in Prance
in Germany, and in Italy his name is inscribed,
or his features depicted, among the distinguished
masters of the musical art. In his own country
he should be honoured even if no better memorial
of him was needed while his works could be per-
formed. The thirty years of Handel's popularity
was matched and surpassed by the public favour
which Balfe enjoyed from the date of the produc-
tion of " The Siege of Eochelle " until his death.
When "The Talisman" was placed upon the
stage, it was received with an enthusiasm which
could not have been excited by anything but the
genius exhibited in the music. In days yet to
come, the light of that genius wiU continue to
shine, the earthly particles of mortality which
clogged it will have vanished, and posterity will
bear grateful witness to the worth and value of
Balfe's life and work.
Adelaide Kemble, 128.
Adolph Nourrit, 74.
Albei'tazzi, Madame, 122.
Alexandra Palace, Balfe Festival, 282.
Alfred Bunn, 96, 154, 165, 185.
Alfred Crowquill, 193.
" Amilie," by Rooke, 119.
Ancient Concerts, 94.
Anna Thillon, Madame, 144, 163.
" Armourer of Nantes, The," 247.
Arne's " Olympiade," 123.
Arnold, Mr., English Opera House,
•' Atala,"Balfe's Opera, 73.
Auber, 74, 206.
Ealfe. His birth, 14. Ingenious
contrivance oj efforts in Haydn's
Surprise Symphony, 16. At the
age of seven. Composes a Polacca
for a military band, 18. Plays May-
seder's Concerto for Violin in
public when only nine years old,
18. Balfe and the Sweet-stuff
Woman, 21. Balfe and the boat,
22. His first song, "Young Fanny,
the Beautiful Maid," 30, 34. He
starts for London, 31. First arrival
in London, 34. Plays at the
Oratorio Concerts at Drury Lane
Theatre, 33. His first essay as a
Conductor, 34. Balfe in the Gal-
lery of the Haymarket Theatre
hearing his own song, 34. His
Adventure with a Dead Body, 40.
Writes an Opera for another, 42.
Balfe and George Graham, Im-
provised nobility, 43. Balfe as a
Music-Copyist, 44. He learns
French and Italian, 44. Makes
his first appearance as a Vocalist
at the age of Seventeen, 45.
Bomantic acquaintance with the
Count Mazzara, 46. Starts for
Italy, 47. Visits Paris, Some, &c.,
48 ut supra. The Countess Maz-
zara, 51. Compcses an Opera,
" Othello," 51. Balfe in Milan, 53.
His first Composition for the Stage,
The ballet " La Perouse," 61. Re-
turns to Paris in 1827, 60. Appears
at the Theatre des Italiens in Paris,
69. Writes additional music to
Zingarelli's Romeo and Juliet, 72.
Composes an Opera, " Atala," 73.
Leaves Paris for Italy, 75. Milan,
Bologna, Palermo, and Sicily, 76.
Is made an Honorary Member of
the Societa Filarmonica Bologna,
78. Makes his debftt at Palermo,
80. Writes the Opera "I Rivali
di se stessi," 82. Piacenza, Ber-
gamo, 84. MeetsMdlle. LinaRoser,
his future wife, 84. Rolla, the
Conductor of the Opera at Pavia,
his discomfiture, 87. Balfe writes
" Dn awertimenti di gelosi," 89.
" Enrico quarto' al passo del
Marno," 90. Loses the box with
all his early Compositions, 93.
"The Siege of Rochelle," 95 ut
supra. The Balfe Detractors of
1835, Is called the English
Rossini, 105. "Falstafl," 108.
"Maid of Artois," 109. Balfe's
air, 110. Chorus of Druids in
" Caractacus," 118. " Joan of Arc,"
118. "Diadeste,"120. Balfe in Ire-
land, 128. Made a Freemason, 128.
" Knight of the Leopard," 37, 250,
252, 256, 274, &c. " Elfrida," 138.
Grand Concert Balfe, 140. Con-
ductor of Her Majesty's Opera,
177, &o. "Le Jour de Noel," 162.
" Le Puits d'Amour," 143, 146,162,
164. " Geraldine," 154, 162. "Les
Quatre Fils Aymon," 143, 163, 165,
181, 208, 210. "L'Etoile de
Seville," 164, 172. « The Daughter
of St. Mark," 166, &o. "The En-
chantress," 172. "Maid of
Honour," 192, &c. "The Bond-
man," 185. " The Devil to Pay,"
192. Invents the Leii motiv, 196,
"Sicilian Bride," 197. Sacred
Compositions, 200. "Le Roi
S'amuse," 201. " Satanella," 203,
231, 235. Cantata for female
voices, 207. "II Talismauo,"244,
274, 278. Sonata for pianoforte
and violoncello, 261. Chamber
Trio, 262. Concerto for flute, 263.
"Rose of Castille," 226, 235. Irish
Melodies, 232. "Bianca, the
Bravo's Bride," 235. "Puritan's
Daughter," 241. " Mazeppa," 244.
"Blanche de Nevers," 246.
"Armourer of Nantes," 247.
" Sleeping Queen," 248 , " Siege of
Calais," 250, 251. Produces "The
Bohemian Girl " in Paris, 265. Is
made Knight of the Legion of
Honour by Napoleon III., 267.
Created Commander of the Order
of Charles III. of Spain, 268. His
Death, 269. Burial in Kensal
Green, 271. Statue in Drury Lane
Theatre, 279. His Bust is placed
in the National Gallery at Dublin,
285. Memorial Window in St.
Patrick's Cathedral, 286. Tablet
in Westminster Abbey, 293.
Bacchiocohi Prince, 77.
Bach, J. S., 32, 68.
Balfe Festival at the Alexandra
Barnett's Mountain Sylph, 103.
Barton, James, 18.
Beethoven, 37, 196.
Benedict, 135, 135.
Bennett, Sterndale, 183, 263.
" Bianca, the Bravo's Bride," Balfe's
Bishop, Madame Anna, 181.
Bishop, SirH. R., 2,104.
" Blanche de Nevers," Balfe's Opera,
Blasis, Mdlle., 72.
"Bohemian GM," Balfe's Opera, 154,
155, 160, 165, &c.
" Bohemian Girl," Balfe's Opera, in
" Bohemian Girl," Balfe's Opera, in
Germany, 161, 205.
" Bohemian Girl," Balfe's Opera, in
Italy, 161, 229, &c.
" Bohemian Girl," Balfe's Opera, the
100th night, 171.
"Bondman, The," Balfe's Opera,
Bonny Gonn, 28.
Bordogni, 65, 66, 68, 69.
Brunswick and De Leuwen, Messrs.,
Bunn, Alfred, 96, 154, 165, 185.
Bunn, Alfred, his poetry, 115, 187,
Bunn, Alfred, his "Blaze of
Triumph," 118, 185, 215.
Bunn and Malibran,112.
Bast of Balfe in Dublin, 285.
Cannizzaro, Duke de, 76.
"Cantata for female voices," by
" Caractacus," 117.
Carnival engagements, 83.
Casino dei Nobili, 78.
" Castle of Aymon," Balfe's Opera,
Cataldo, Princess, 79.
Cathedral music, 8, 9.
"Catherine Grey," by Balfe, 115,
Cervantes' "Novelas Exemplares,"
Chamber Trio, 262.
Cherubini, 48, 49, 61, 62, 63, 67, 68,
"Chiaradi Rosenberg," by Ricci,95,
Colbran, Madame, 62, 63.
Concerto for Flute, by Balfe, 263.
Cooke, Tom, 36, 60, 96.
Comaro Opera House, 77, 90.
Cornet k pistons introduced into the
Orchestra by Balfe, 110.
Costa, Sir Michael, 176, 182,277.
Crow Street Theatre, 13.
Cruvelli, Sophie, 196, &c.
" Daughter of St. Mark, The," Balfe's
Opera, 166, &c.
Dean Stanley, 273.
Death of Balfe's Father, 20.
Death of Balfe, 269.
De Beriot, 111.
De Leuwen and Brunswick, Messrs.,
" Der Mulatto " (The Bondman), 204.
" Devil's in it. The," 192.
" Diadeste," Balfe's Opera, 120, 132,
Dinner to Balfe in Dublin, 127.
Drury Lane Theatre, 36, &c.
Dubourg, Matthew, 13.
Duke de Frias, 255.
Ecclesiastical music, 8.
" Elfrida," Balfe's Opera, 138.
Emperor of Germany, 203.
" Enchantress, The," Balfe's Opera,
English Musicians at the beginning
of the Century, 7.
" Enrico quatro aj passo il Marno,"
Balfe's Opera, 90.
Exhibition, Great, of 1851, 201.
" FalstafE," Balfe's Opera, 122, 123,
Federici,52, 53, 55, 57.
"Fidelio," recitatives composed by
Fitzball, Edward, 40, 95, 117, 119,
131, 139, 155, 193, 269.
Freemasonry, Balfe initiated, 128.
Galli, Filippo, 59, 63, 84.
Gardoni, the Singer, 194. &c.
"Geraldine," "Le Puits d'Amour"
Balfe's Opera, 154, 162.
" Gigia," Balfe's Daughter, 141, &o.
Glossop, the Manager, 55, 56, 57, 86.
" Grand Concert Balfe," in Paris, 140.
Grand National Concerts, 205.
Great Exhibition of 1851, The, 306.
Great Operatic Quartett, The, 122,
Grisi, Madame, 77, 121, 136.
Guiglini, the Tenor, 229.
Gye, Mr F., the elder, 38.
Handel, 13, 68.
Harrison and Pyne Opera Com-
pany, 225, 239, &o.
Haymarket Theatre, 34.
Hayward St. Leger, 170.
Heath, Mr., the Banker, 46, &o.
Horn, C. E., 30, 45, 46, 48, 68. Earl
Friedrich, 32, 48.
Hullah's Classes, 148, &c.
"II Talismano," Balfe's last opera,
244, 274, 278, &c.
" I Masjiadieri," 195.
Irish Melodies of Moore, 232.
"I Rivali di se Stessi," Balfe's
" Joan of Arc," Balfe's Opera, 118.
Eate Eyan, Balfe's mother, 14.
Eemble, John M., 193.
"Eeolanthe," Balfe's Opera, 131,
135, 154, 218.
King Louis Philippe, 145, 197.
King William the Fourth, 160.
"Knight of the Leopard," Balfe's
Opera, 37, 250, 252, 256, 274.
" Lady of Lyons," 250.
" La Perouse," Ballet by Balfe, 61,
Laporte, the manager, 123, &c.
" La Scala," in Milan, 77, 90, &o.
"La Somnambula," 84, 91.
Laurent the Manager, 69, 70, 72, 73.
Legion of Honour, 267.
" Leit Motiv," invented by Balfe, 198.
" Le Jour de Noel," Balfe's Opera,
" Le Puits d'Amour," Balfe's Opera,
143, 146, 162.
" Le Boi S'amuse," Balfe's unfinished
"Les Quatre Fils Aymon," Balfe's
Opera, 146, 163, &e.
" L'Etoile de Seville," Balfe's Opera,
Levey, E M., 24, 128, 183.
Liebes Bi-unnen (" Le Puits d'A-
" Light of Other Days, The," 110.
Lind, Madame Jenny, 181, 185, 194,
Linley, George, 115.
Loder, Edward, 96, 104.
Logier, J. B., 15.
"Lover's Mistake, The," Balfe's
Lover, Samuel, 135.
Lumley, Mr., 176, &c.
Maofarren, Professor G. A., 100, 135,
Madame Balfe, 84, 133.
Maggione, Manfredo, 122, 138.
"Miiid of Artois," Balfe's Opera,
109, 116, 170, 188.
"Maid of Honour," Balfe's Opera,
Malibran, Madame, 70, 72, &c., 91,
&c., 109, 121.
Marriage of Balfe's daughters, 216,
Marriage of the Princess Royal,
" Mazeppa," Cantata by Balfe, 244.
McNally, James and Leonard, 24,
Meadows, the Bandmaster, 17.
Micheroux Cavaliero, 85.
Mori, the violinist, 34.
" Moro " Balfe's Opera, 220.
Mozarl, 7,37,65, 70, 125, te.
Musical Art in 1800, 1.
National English Opera, 134, 149.
Nilseon, Madame Christine, 260,274,
Norwich Festival, 1842, 144.
"01ympiade"of Dr. Arne, 123.
Opera Band of 1847, 195.
Oratorio Concerts, 3S, 34, 38.
Order of Charles III. of Spain, 268.
O'Rourke, or Kooke, William, 17,
Osborne, Gr. A., 140.
"Otello," Balfe's Opera, 51.
Paer, Ferdinando, 51, 52.
" Painter of Antwerp," 220.
Pasta, Madame, 84, 85.
Paton, Miss (Mrs. Wood), 127.
Persiani, Madame, 122, 123.
Philharmonic Society, 11, 44, 183.
Phillips, Henry, 97, 100, 109.
Piccadilly, No. 19, Balfe's London
" Pittore e Duca " by Balfe, 219.
Planchfi, J. R., 2, 5, 117.
Polacca for a Military Band, 18.
Prices paid for Balfe's compositions,
35, 63, 82, 96, 135, 158, 178, &c.
Prince Consort, 153, &c.
" Puritan's Daughter, The," 241.
Puzzi, Signer, 92.
Fyne and Harrison Company, 225,
Queen Adelaide, 101.
Queen Victoria, 101, 180, 222.
Rolla, the Conductor, 87.
Rooke or O'Rourke, 17, 129.
Rossini, 37, 51, 59, 62, &c., 71, 124,
" Rose of Castille," Balfe's Opera,
Rowney Abbey, 249, 253.
Royal Academy of Music, 33, 283.
Russia, Balfe in, 233.
Sacred Compositions of Balfe, 200.
Saint-Georges, De, 143, 161, &c.
Sampieri, the Marquis, 76, 79.
" Satanella," Balfe's Opera, 203,
231, 235. .
Saunders' News Letter, 18.
Schira, Signor F., 189.
Scribe, Eugene, 142, &c.
" Sicilian Bride, The," Balfe's Opera,
" Siege of Calais," by Planchfi, 250.
" Siege of Rochelle," Balfe's Opera,
Sims Reeves, 192, 193, 276.
Sketch-books, &c., 202.
" Sleeping Queen, The," Operetta by
Smart, Sir George, 38.
Sommatino, Count, 76, 79, 81.
Sonata for pianoforte and violon-
Sontag, Madame, 60.
"Stabat Mater" of Rossini, first
performance in London, 125.
Statue in Drury Lane Theatre,
Stephans, Miss, 30.
Stewart, Sir Robert, 285.
Tablet in Westminster Abbey, 293.
" Talismano, II," 250, &c.
Testimonials to Balfe, 171, &o.
Thackeray, W. M., 181, 185.
" Un avvertimenti di Gelosi," Balfe's
Vauxhall Gardens, 6, 38.
Vestris, Madame, 34, 35.
Vier Haimons Kinder (" Les Quatre
Fils Aymon"), 164, 181, 210.
Weber, 37, 45.
Wesley, S., 32.
Westminster Abbey, 279.
WlUraanu, H., Bugle Player, 19.
Window in St. Patrick's Cathedral,
" Young Fanny," Balfe's first song,
Zingara, La (see Bohemian Girl).
Zigeunerinn (see Bohemian Girl).
NoTB.— By an oversight, the name of « Chalon " is given on page 101 as
the painter of the portrait of the Queen. It should be E. T. Parris.
Printed by Eeminbton & Co., 134, New Bond Street, W.