Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/120
��Perruquier de la Re*gence,' 3 acts (March 30, 1838); and 'Le Panier fleuri,' i act (May 6, 1839). Ambition however prompted him to attempt the Acade"mie, and there he produced 'La Gipsy ' (Jan. 28, 1839), a ballet in 3 acts, of which the 2nd only was his; 'Le Comte de Carmagnola' (April 19, 1841); ' Le Guerillero ' (June 2, 1842), both in 2 acts; and 'Betty' (July 10, 1846), ballet in 2 acts : but it was hard for so young a composer to hold his own with Auber, Halevy, Meyerbeer, and Donizetti, so Thomas returned to the Opra Comique. There he composed successively ' Carline,' 3 acts (Feb. 24, 1840) ; 'Angelique et Me"dor,' I act (May 10, 1843); 'Mina,' 3 acts (Oct. 10, 1843); 'Le Caid,' 2 acts (Jan. 3, 1849); 'Le Songe d'une nuit dMte",' 3 acts (April 20, 1850) ; 'Raymond,' 3 acts (June 5, 1851); 'La Tonelli,' 2 acts (March 30, 1853); 'La Cour de Celimene,' 2 acts (April u, 1855) ; 'Psyche",' 3 acts (Jan. 26, 1857, revived with additions May 21, 1878) ; 'Le Carnaval de Venise,' 3 acts (Dec. 9, 1853); Le Roman d'Elvire,' 3 acts (Feb. 3, 1860); 'Mignon,' 3 acts (Nov. 17, 1866) ; and 'Gille et Gillotin,' i act, composed in 1861, but not pro- duced till April 22, 1874. To these must be added two cantatas composed for the inaugura- tion of a statue to Lesueur at Abbeville (Aug, 10, 1852), and for the Boieldieu centenary at Rouen (June 13, 1875) ; a ' Messe Solennelle' (Nov. 22, 1857), a 'Marche Religieuse ' (Nov. 22, 1865) composed for the Association des Artistes Musiciens; and a quantity of part-songs and choral scenas, such as 'France,' 'Le Tyrol,' 'L'At- lantique,' 'Le Carnaval de Rome,' ' LesTraineaux,' ' La Nuit du Sabbat,' etc. The life and dramatic movement of his unaccompanied part-songs for men's voices showed the essentially dramatic nature of M. Thomas's genius, which after en- larging the limits of opera comique, found a congenial though formidable subject in ' Hamlet,' 5 acts (March 9, 1868). The Prince of Denmark was originally cast for a tenor, but there being at that time no tenor at the Ope"ra capable of creating such^a part, Thomas altered the music to suit a baritone, and entrusted it to Faure. The success of this great work following im- mediately on that secured by ' Mignon,' pointed out its composer as the right man to succeed Auber as director of the Conservatoire 1 (July 6, 1871). The work he has done there daily in- creasing in importance has been already de- scribed. [See CONSERVATOIBE, vol. i. 393.] A post of this nature leaves scant leisure for other employment, and during the last twelve years M. Thomas has composed nothing beyond the solfeg- gios and exercises for the examinations, except one opera ' Fran9oise de Rimini ' (April 14, 1882), the prologue and fourth act of which are en- titled to rank with his 'Hamlet.'
The musical career of Ambroise Thomas may be divided into three distinct periods. The first period extended to 1848, and, taking 'Mina' and 'Betty' as specimens, its main characteristics
of Comp08ltlon " 1862 > d
were elegance and grace. The second began with the ope'ra bouffe ' Le Cald,' the refined wit of which was a protest against the hackneyed phrases and forced declamation of the Italian school, and continuing with 'Le Songe d'une Nuit d'e*tey ' Raymond,' and 'Psyche*,' all works novel in form, and poetic in idea, ended in 1861. The last 20 years include ' Mignon,' ' Hamlet/ and 'Fran9oise de Rimini,' all full of earnest thought, and showing continuous progress.
Carrying forward the work begun by He*rold, he brings to his task an inborn instinct for the stage, and a remarkable gift of interpreting dramatic situations of the most varied and op- posite kinds. His skill in handling the orchestra is consummate, both in grouping instruments of different timbre, and obtaining new effects of sound ; but though carrying orchestral colouring to the utmost pitch of perfection, he never allows it to overpower the voices. With a little more boldness and individuality of melody this accom- plished writer, artist, and poet master of all moods and passing in turn from melancholy musings to the liveliest banter would rank with the leaders of the modern school of composers ; as it is, the purity and diversity of his style make him a first-rate dramatic composer.
Ambroise Thomas is one of the few survivors of a society of eminent artists Gatteaux, Baltard, Hippolyte Flandrin, Alexandre Hesse, and many others who gathered round Ingres as their head. Intimate from his youth with the family of Horace Vernet, he was much in good society, though it would be unfair to call him devoted to it. Tall, slender, and fond of physical exer- tion, he enjoys country life, but he is also known as a connoisseur of old furniture and bric-a-brac, and an assiduous frequenter of the Hotel Drouot. Indeed his rooms at the Conservatoire, his villa at Argenteuil, and his island retreat at Zilliec in Brittany, may almost be called museums. M. Thomas was made a Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour in 1 880.
There is a fine oil-painting of him by Hippolyte Flandrin, a terra-cotta bust by Doublemard, and a marble bust and medallion, the last a striking likeness, by Oudine". [G.C.]
THOMAS, HAROLD, born at Cheltenham, July 8, 1834, a favourite pupil of Sterndale Bennett, under whom he was placed at the Royal Academy of Music at a very early age. His other masters were Cipriani Potter (theory), and Henry Blagrove (violin). He made his first ap- pearance as a pianist at a Royal Academy Con- cert, May 25, 1850, and after this appeared frequently at the same concerts, both as pianist and composer. In 1858, Mr. Thomas played before the Queen and Prince Consort at Windsor, and in 1864 played Bennett's First Concerto at the Philharmonic. A few years later, he retired from public life and devoted himself to teaching. Mr. Thomas is now Professor of the piano at the Royal Academy of Music, and the Guildhall School of Music. His compositions include many original piano pieces, some songs, many arrange- ments, etc., and three overtures for orchestra :