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^^''miniiMiiliiiS'il.'i'i.iyifHS'.PY W™- Alexander 

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tine Cornell University Library. 

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B A L F E 

W'lH life Mh moxl. 



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. 

ILontion : 

New Bond Street, W. 


[All Rights Reserved.^ 








I. 1800 

IT. 1808-1823 ... 

III. 1823-1825 ... 

IV. 1825-1826 ... 

VIII. 1833-1835 ... 
IX. 1836-1838 ... 
X. 1838-1841 ... 

XI. 1841 

XII. 1841-1843 ... 





V. 1826-1827 54 

VI. 1827-1829 


VII. 1830-1832 7g 



XIII. 1843 148 

XIV. 1844-1846 

XV. 1846-1848 

XVr. 1848-1852 

XVII. 1852-1858 215 

XVIII. 1858-1865 233 

XIX. 1865-1870 253 

XX. 1870-1876 271 

XXI. 1876-1882 284 

XXII 296 

Index 309 


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 
the influence. 

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 

10 BALFE. 

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- 

BALFE. 11 

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- 

12 BALFE. 

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 
into genius. 

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 

14 BALFB. 

-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 

BALFE. 15 

"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 

16 BATJE. 

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 

BALPE. 17 

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 

18 BALFE. 

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 

BALFB. 19 

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 

20 BALFE. 

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 

EALFE. 21 

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 

22 BALFE. 

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: 

BALFE. 23 

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 

24 BALFB. 

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 
his phrasing. 

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. 

BALFE. 25 

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." 

26 BALFB. 

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- 

28 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 29 

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- 

30 BALFE. 

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. 

BALFE. 31 

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 
care-laden breast. 

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. 

32 BAIJE. 

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- 

BALFE. 33 

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 

34 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 35 

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. 

36 BALFB. 

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. 

BALFE. 37 

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 

38 BALFE. 

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- 

BALFE. 39 

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 

40 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 43 

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. 

4-t BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 45 

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 

46 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 47 

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 

48 BA.LPE. 

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 

BALW. 49 

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 

50 BALFE. 

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. 

BALFE. 51 

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 
jnind's eye. 

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 
^ parent. 

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 

52 BALFB. 

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. 

BA.LFE. 53 

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 

BALFB. 55 

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 

56 BALFE. 

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 

BALPB. 57 

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 

58 BALFE. 

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 

BAirE. 59 

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 

60 BALPE. 

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 

BALFE. 61 

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 

€2 BALPB. 

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 

BALFE. 63 

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. 

64 BALFE. 

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 
but myself." 



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 

66 BALFB. 

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 

EALFE. 67 

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. 

68 BALFE. 

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, 

BALPE. 69 

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," 

70 BALPE. 

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 

BALFE. 71 

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 
into exercise. 

Eossini had said over and over again that when 

72 BALPE. 

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. 

BALFE. 73 

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. 

BALFE. 75- 

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 
when completed. 

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- 

BALFE. 7/ 

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- 

78 BALFE. 

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 
hospitable table. 

80 BALFE. 

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 

BALFB. 81 

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 

82 BALFE. 

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. 

BALFE. 83 

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. 

84 BALFE. 

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- 

BALFE. 85 

-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 
Ma,rch, 1831. 

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." 

86 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 87 

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. 

88 BALFE. 

At last he was appealed to, and modestly stated 
his views. 

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 

BALFE. 89 

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 
■end was. 

" 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 

90 BALFE. 

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.. 

BALFE. 91 

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 

■92 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 93' 

his fortune among his countrymen as a leading 
baritone singer. 

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 

BALFE. 95 

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 

96 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- 
wards styled. 

BALPE. 97 

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 


98 BALFE. 

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 

BALPE. 99 

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.' " 

100 BALFE. 

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- 

BALFE. 101 

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- 

BALFB. 103 

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 

104 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 105 

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- 

BALFE. 107 

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- 
penters' scene." 

" Let him wait, and you can write them after 

108 BALFE. 

" 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 

BALFE. 109 

rouleau of twenty-five sovereigns, his customary fee 
being ten. 

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 
unexpectedly earned. 

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, 

110 BALFB. 

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 
other days." 

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 


MAViijUiBimAiif . 


"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 

112 BALFB. 

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 — 

BALFE. 113 

"'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 

114 BALFE. 

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. 

BALFE. 115 

•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- 

116 BALM. 

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- 

BALFB. 117 

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 

118 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 119 

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 

120 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 121 

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-^ 

124 BALFE. 

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- 

BALFE. 125 

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 " 

126 BAI,FE. 

"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. 127 

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- 
self ? 

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- 

128 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 129 

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 

BALPE. 131 

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 
was lost. 

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- 

132 BALFE. 

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- 

BALFE. 133 

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 

134 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 135 

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^ 

136 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 137 

- 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. 

BALFE. 139 

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. 

140 BALFB. 

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 

142 BALPE. 

"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 

BALFE. 143 

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 

144 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 145 

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 


146 BALFE. 

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 
and Brunswick. 

Before this was completed and produced, Balfe 

BALFE. 147 

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.. 

BALFE. 149 

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 

150 BALFE. 

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' 

BALPE. 151 

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. 

152 BALFE. 

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 

BALPE. 153 

•of the wisest princes of modern times, tlie late 
Prince Consort. 

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 
new combinations. 

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 
the masses. 

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 

BALFB. 155 

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 

156 BALFE. 

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 

BALPB. 157 

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 

158 BALFE. 

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 
immortal fame. 

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 

BALFB. 159 

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 

160 BALPB. 

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 " 

BALFE. 161 

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 
French taste. 

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. 

BALFE. 163 

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 

164 BALPE. 

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 

BALFE. 165 

•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 
the period. 

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. 

166 BALFE. 

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. 

BALFE, 167 

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 

168 BALFE. 

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 

BAIiFE. 169 

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 

170 BALFB. 

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 

BALFB. 171 

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- 

172 BAI,FB. 

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 

BALEB. 175 

■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 
author's rights. 

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 

176 BALPE. 

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 

BALFE. 177 

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 
his advantage. 

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, 

178 BALIE. 

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. 181 

"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 

182 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 183 

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 

184 BALFE. 

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. 

BAI,FE. 185 

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 

186 BALPE. 

£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- 

BALFE. 187 

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? 

188 BALFE. 

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- 
strumentation . 

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 

190 BALFE. 

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 

BALFB. 191 

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 
ashamed of. 

Balfe's music further shows the most consum- 
mate dramatic power, genuine grip and verve in 

192 BALPB. 

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- 

BALFE. 193 

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 


194 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 

BALFE. 195 

•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 

196 BALFE. 

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 

BALPE. 197 

-" 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- 

BALFE. 199 

highly estimated his personal character. Of the 
particulars of this and similar visits there is no 
certain information. 

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- 

200 BALFB. 

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 
September, 1848. 

BALFE. 201 

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 

202 BALPB. 

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 
been revealed. 

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 
these years. 

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 

204 BALFB. 

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 
operatic stage. 

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 

BALFE. 205 

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- 

'206 BALPE. 

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 

BALFE. 207 

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. 

208 BALFE. 

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,. 

BAT.FE. 209 

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 


210 BALFE. 

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 
legitimate triumph." 

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 

BALFB. 211 

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. 

212 BALFE. 

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 

BiLFB. 213 

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 

214 BALFE. 

which the names of all his operas then known 
were engraved. 

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- 

216 BALFE, 

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 

BALFB. 217 

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- 

218 BALFB. 

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,.. 

BALFE. 219' 

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 

•220 BALFE. 

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 

'222 BALFB. 

song, which, with its lively choral refrain, appeals 
irresistibly to all who have any soul for fresh and 
spontaneous tune. 

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 

BALFE. 223 

-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 
cordial welcome. 

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 

BALPE. 225 

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 

226 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 227 

•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 

^28 BALFE. 

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. 

BALFE. 229 

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 

230 BALFE. 

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- 

BALFE. 231 

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 

232 BALFE. 

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, 

234 BALFB. 

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 

BALFE. 235 

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 — 

236 BALFE. 

^' 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 

238 BALFE. 

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 

BALFB. 239 

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 

240 BALPE. 

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 

BALFE. 241 

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. 


242 BALFB. 

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 

BALFE. 243 

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 

244 BALFE. 

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 

BALFB. 245 

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 

246 BALFE. 

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- 
ing work. 

" 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 

EALFE. 247 

artistic peculiarities, the dramatic power of the 
ensemhles, the heavity of the ballet, the genuine 
■verve in the comic music, and the clever and 
interesting scoring. 

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 

248 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 249 

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- 

250 BALFE. 

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, 

BALFE. 251 

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 
sketch books. 

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 

■252 BALFB. 

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- 

254 BALFB. 

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 

BALFE. 255 

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 

256 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 257 

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, 


258 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 259 

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 

260 BALIE. 

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, 
"I remain, 

" 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 

BALFB. 261 

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 
once more. 

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 

262 BALFE. 

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 

BALFB. 263 

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 

264 BALFE, 

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. 265 

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." 

266 BALFE. 

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 

BALFB. 267 

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 

268 BALFE, 

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, 

BALFE. 269* 

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 : — 


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. 

■270 BALFE. 

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. 


1870— 1876. 

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 

272 BALFE. 

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- 

BALFE. 273 

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 : — 

Deanert, Westminster, 

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 
Mi. Balfe. 


274 BALFE. 

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, 

Tours faithfully, 

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 . 

BALFB. 275 

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 ; 

276 BALPB. 

'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 

BALFE. 277 

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 

278 EALFE. 

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. 

BALFE. 279 

-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 

280 BALrE. 

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 

BAI.EE. 281 

• 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 
arm free." 

282 BALFE. 

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.. 

BALPE. 283- 

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 

BALTE. 285 

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 

"286 BALFE. 

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 
April, 1879. 

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 
Vicars Choral." 

J,^ P-^TT^ICIfJ C/fTf^ED^J)t,I)lJSLIfl' 

BALPE. 287 

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. 

288 BALFE. 

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- 

BALFE. 289 

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 


290 BALFB. 

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 

of Cambridge. 


Organist of Christ Church and St. Patrick's, 
Dublin; Professor of Music, Trinity 
College, Dublin. 

BALFE. 291 

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. 

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 
Westminster Abbey. 
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. 



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. 

292 BALFB. 


Conductor of the Eoyal Albert Hall 
Orchestral Society. 

HENRY BILES, Mns. Doc, Oxon., 

Professor of Harmony, Owen's College, 


Principal of the Guildhall School of Music. 


Her Majesty's Inspector of Music in 
Training Schools. 

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. 


Professor of Harmony, Queen's College,. 

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. 


Assistant Organist, Chapel Royal, Hampton 

EDWIN J. CROW, Mns. Doc, Cantab., 

Organist of Ripon Cathedral. 

Wis TM If/s T£ 7^ AmB£ Y". 

BALFE. 293 

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. 


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 matter. 

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 

294 BALPE. 

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. 295 

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 ... ... ... 

BALFE. 297 

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- 

298 BALFE, 

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 
equalled since. 

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;; 

BALFB. 299' 

"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-= 

300 BALFE. 

■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 

BALFE. 301 

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 

302 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 303 

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 

304 BALFE. 

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 

BALFE. 305 

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 

306 BALPE. 

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 

BALFE. 307 

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 

Palace, 282. 
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 

Opera, 235. 
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 

France, 161,265. 
" 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, 

Bonduca, 117. 
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, 

201, &c. 
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 

Balfe, 207. 
" Caractacus," 117. 
Carnival engagements, 83. 
Casino dei Nobili, 78. 
" Castle of Aymon," Balfe's Opera, 

Catalani, 85. 
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. 
Erard, 139. 
Exhibition, Great, of 1851, 201. 

" FalstafE," Balfe's Opera, 122, 123, 

Federici,52, 53, 55, 57. 
"Fidelio," recitatives composed by 

Balfe, 196. 
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 
Opera, 82. 

" 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. 

Lablache,120, 122. 

" 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, 

162, 178. 
" Le Puits d'Amour," Balfe's Opera, 

143, 146, 162. 
" Le Boi S'amuse," Balfe's unfinished 

Opera, 201. 
"Les Quatre Fils Aymon," Balfe's 

Opera, 146, 163, &e. 
" L'Etoile de Seville," Balfe's Opera, 

164, 172. 
Levey, E M., 24, 128, 183. 
Liebes Bi-unnen (" Le Puits d'A- 
mour)," 164. 
" Light of Other Days, The," 110. 
Lind, Madame Jenny, 181, 185, 194, 

200, 205. 
Linley, George, 115. 
Loder, Edward, 96, 104. 
Logier, J. B., 15. 
"Lover's Mistake, The," Balfe's 

song, 34. 
Lover, Samuel, 135. 
Lumley, Mr., 176, &c. 

Maofarren, Professor G. A., 100, 135, 

150, 176. 
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. 
Melodramas, 2. 
Mendelssohn, 74. 
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. 
Pellegrini, 60. 

Persiani, Madame, 122, 123. 
Philharmonic Society, 11, 44, 183. 
Phillips, Henry, 97, 100, 109. 
Piccadilly, No. 19, Balfe's London 

Residence, 165. 
" Pittore e Duca " by Balfe, 219. 
Planchfi, J. R., 2, 5, 117. 
Polacca for a Military Band, 18. 
Pot-boilers, 136. 
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. 
Ronconi, 89. 
Rossini, 37, 51, 59, 62, &c., 71, 124, 

" Rose of Castille," Balfe's Opera, 

226, 236. 
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 

Balte, 248. 
Smart, Sir George, 38. 
Sommatino, Count, 76, 79, 81. 
Sonata for pianoforte and violon- 
cello, 261. 
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 
Opera, 89. 

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, 
Dublin, 286. 

" Young Fanny," Balfe's first song, 
30, 34. 

Zingarclli, 72. 

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.