Lucile Grétry at 250

Ayleen Klinder

Thursday, October 20, 2022

The following is by our recent intern, Ayleen Klinder:

Angélique-Dorothée-Louise Grétry, called Lucile, was the second daughter of the famous composer André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry. She was born on 15 July 1772 and died of tuberculosis at the young age of 17 in March 1790. Her 250th birthday was in July 2022.

From an early age she received lessons in counterpoint and declamation from her father and instruction in harmony from Jean-François Tapray, so her musical talent was formed and nurtured early on. She composed two operas before her premature death. For her first opera at the age of only 13, a divertissement called Le Mariage d’Antonio, she composed the voice parts along with the bass and harp accompaniment. Her father then arranged the composition for orchestra. On 29 July 1786, shortly after Grétry’s 14th birthday, her comic opera premiered at the Comédie-Italienne. Le Mariage d’Antonio met with great acclaim. The opera stayed in the repertoire for five years and was performed 47 times. Her second opera, Toinette et Louis, premiered in 1787. This work was unsuccessful, however.

We only have sources for her first opera, Le Mariage d’Antonio (RISM Catalog | RISM Online). Nevertheless, this composition allowed Lucile Grétry to make a name for herself in the musical world. Even today, in spite of this one success, she is not an unknown figure. We are left to wonder what she could have composed, where her career would have taken her, had she not died so early.

Image: Lucile Grétry, Le mariage d’Antonio. Divertissement en un acte et en prose, Paris, 1786. University of North Texas Music Library (US-DN). Available online (public domain). RISM ID no. 990023172 (RISM Catalog | RISM Online).

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Category: Musical anniversaries


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