A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Grand Prix de Rome

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GRAND PRIX DE ROME. The Académie des Beaux Arts, a branch of the Institut de France, holds annual competitive examinations in painting, sculpture, engraving, architecture, and music. The successful candidates become pensioners of the government for a period of four years, and as such are sent to Rome, where they reside at the Villa Medici, in the 'Académie de France' founded by Louis XIV in 1666. Hence the term 'Grand prix de Rome' is applied to those musicians who have obtained the first prize for composition at the Institut de France. The Prize was established on the reorganisation of the Institut in 1803. The judges consist of six musician-members of the Institut who belong to the Académie, and three of the most eminent composers of the day. The competition takes place in May or June. The prize composition was originally a cantata for one voice and orchestra; subsequently for one male and one female voice; but for the last forty years three characters have been required, and it has now attained to the importance of a one-act opera. The libretto is also furnished by competition, in which distinguished writers often take part; while the most popular singers take pleasure in performing these first compositions of the young aspirants. In the event of no composition proving worthy of the Prize, it stands over till the next year, when two may be adjudged (see 1805, 1819, etc.).

We append a complete list of the musicians who have gained this gratifying and eagerly coveted distinction; adding the titles of their cantatas, and, where obtainable, the dates of birth and death.

1803. Androt (1781–1804). 'Alcyone.'
1804. No first prize.
1805. Dourlen. and Gasse (1788–) 'Cupidon pleurant Psyché.'
1806. Bouteiller (1788–18 ). 'Héro et L'eandre.'
1807. No first prize.
1808. Blondeau. 'Marie Stuart.'
1809. Daussoigne (1790–1875). 'Agar dans le désert.'
1810. Beaulieu (1791–1863). 'Héro.'
1811. Chelard. ' Ariane.'
1812. Hérold. 'La Duchesse de la Vallière.'
1813. Panseron. 'Herminie.'
1814. Roll (1788–). 'Atala.'
1815. Benoist (1795). 'Œnone.'
1816. No first prize.
1817. Batton (1797–1855). 'La mort d'Adonis.'
1818. No first prize.
1819. Halévy, and Massin-Turina (1793–). 'Herminie.'
1820. Leborne (1797–1866). 'Sophonisbe.'
1821. Rifaut (1798–1838). 'Diane.'
1822. Lebourgeois (1799–1824). 'Geneviève de Brabant.'
1823. Boilly (1799–), and Ermel (1798–1871). 'Pyrame et Thisbe.'
1824. Barbereau. 'Agnès Sorel.'
1825. Guillion (1801–1854). 'Ariane dans l'ile de Naxos'.
1826. Paris (1801–66). 'Herminie.'
1827. J. B. Guiraud {1804–). 'Orphée.'
1828. Ross-Despréaux (1803–). 'Herminie.'
1829. No first prize.
1830. Berlioz, and Montfort. 'Sardanapale.'
1831. Prévost. 'Bianca Capello.'
1832. A. Thomas. 'Hermann et Ketty.'
1833. Thys. 'Le Contrebandier espagnol.'
1834. Elwart {1808–77). 'L'entrée en loge.'
1835. Boulanger (1815). 'Achille.'
1836. Boisselot (1811). 'Velléda.'
1837. L. D. Besozzi. 'Marie Stuart et Rizzio.'
1838. Bousquet (1818–54). 'La Vendetta.'
1839. Gounod. 'Fernand.'
1840. Bazin (1816). 'Loyse de Montfort.'
1841. Malliart. 'Lionel Foscari.'
1842. Roger (1814–). 'La reine Flore.'
1843. No first prize.
1844. Massé, and Renaud da Vilback. 'Le Renégat.'
1845. No first prize.
1846. Gastinel. 'Velasquez.'
1847. Deffés (1819). 'L'Ange et Tobie.'
1848. Duprato (1827). 'Damoclés.'
1849. No first prize.
1850. Chariot (1827–71). 'Emma et Eginhard.'
1851. Delehelle (1826). 'Le Prisonnier.'
1852. Léonce Cohen (1830). 'Le Retour de Virginie.'
1853. Galibert (1826–58). 'Le rocher d'Appenzell.'
1854. Barthe (1828). 'Francesca di Rimini.'
1855. Conte (1830). 'Acis et Galatée.'
1856. No first prize.
1857. Bizet (1838–75), and Charles Colin. 'Clovis et Clotilde.'
1858. David (1836). 'Jephté.'
1859. Eugène [App. p.654 corrects to "Ernest"] Guiraud. 'Bajazet et le joueur de flûte.'
1860. Paladilhe. 'Le Czar Ivan IV.'
1861. Dubois (1837–). 'Atala.'
1862. Bourgault-Ducoudray (1840–). 'Louise de Mézières.'
1863. Massenet. 'David Rizzio.'
1864. Sieg. 'Ivanhoe.'
1865. Lenepven. 'Renaud dans let jardins d'Armide.'
1866. Emile Pessard. 'Dalila.'
1867. No first prize.
1868. Wintzweiller (1844–70), and Rabuteau. 'Daniel.'
1869. Taudou. 'Françoise de Rimini.'
1870. Maréchal, and Ch. Lefebvre 'Le Jugement de Dieu.'
1871. Serpette. 'Jeanne d' Arc.'
1872. Salvayre. 'Calypso.'
1873. Paul Puget. 'Mazeppa.'
1874. Ehrhart {1854–75). 'Acis et Galatée.'
1875. Wonnser. 'Clytemnestre.'
1876. Hillemacher. and P. V. de la Nux. 'Judith.'
1877. No first prize.

The successful cantata is performed at the annual séance of the Académie des Beaux Arts at the Institut, usually in October; it has sometimes been sung in costume at the Opera. A few of the cantatas have been engraved, but the greater part are unpublished. At the instance of the writer of this article, and by his endeavours, the whole of the autographs of these interesting compositions have been deposited in the Library of the Conservatoire in Paris, under the title of 'Fonds des Prix de Rome.'

[ G. C. ]

[App. p.654 adds: "The following list completes the number of composers who have gained the prize since the publication of the article in vol. i. p. 618, until the present time:—

1878. Broutin and Rousseau. 'La Fille de Jephté.'
1879. Hue. 'Médés.'
1880. Hillemacher (Lucien). 'Fingal.'
1881. No first prize.
1882. Marty and Piernè. 'Edith.'
1883. Vidal. 'Le Gladiateur.'
1884. Debussy. 'L'Enfant prodigue.'
1885. Leroux. 'Endymion.'
1886. Savard. 'La Vision de Saül.
1887. Charpentier. 'Didon.'

After the year 1803 the competition for the Grand Prix de Rome was decided by the Institut. In 1864 it was modified by a decree of Napoleon III: from 1864 to 1871 the works were judged by a special jury composed of nine members drawn by lot from a list chosen by the general superintendent of theatres. Since 1872 the final judgment has been restored to the united sections of the Académie des Beaux Arts; and the method of procedure is as follows:—The six composers forming the musical section of the Institut (now represented by MM. Thomas, Gounod, Reyer, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, and Delibes), assisted by three composers not belonging to the above-mentioned body, give a previous verdict which the entire Académie has to ratify or veto. The competition takes place in June, and the performance of the prize cantata in October, at the annual public séance of the Académie des Beaux Arts.

[ A. J. ]