Prague Concert Life, 1850-1881

Person details

Giacomo Meyerbeer

Jakob Liebmann Beer

Meyerbeer, Giacomo (1791-1864). German composer. Real name Jakob Liebmann Beer. His wealthy banking family encouraged his prodigious childhood talents for music, in particular for the pianoforte. During the second decade of the nineteenth century he acquired a reputation as one of the foremost virtuosi of the time. His interest however was drawn to opera and following his studies in Italy – during which time he adopted the pseudonym Giacomo Meyerbeer – he pursued a career as an opera composer which culminated in his widespread recognition from the middle-1830s until the late 1860s onwards as perhaps the most effective and successful opera composer throughout the whole of Europe. Among his achievements was the effective creation and establishment of the expansive genre known as ‘grand opera’. In Prague Meyerbeer’s works enjoyed similar success and popularity as elsewhere in Europe with only the restricted confines of the German Estates Theatre and later of the Czech Provisional Theatre perhaps stilting their dramatic effectiveness. This did not however quash the enthusiasm which greeted their reception, nor did it discourage the stage designers; performances of Der Prophet [La prophète] in 1854 featured, according to theatre bills published in Bohemia (e.g. on 8/4/1854), the novelty of an ‘electro-galvanic Sunshine-apperatus [elektro-galvanische Sonnenapparat] by the Royal Engineer Mr Romuald Božek’.