1823 - 1909
Born in Marseilles on December 1st 1823, French composer Ernest Reyer was discouraged from choosing a career in music by his father, but his father never actively blocked him from joining the profession and so Reyer went on to realise his ambitions despite his father’s disapproval. He began attending classes at the Marseilles Conservatory at the age of six and remained there until the age of sixteen. At this stage in his life, Reyer travelled to North Africa to work for his brother-in-law for the Algerian government. In this time, he wrote a number of works, both musical and literary. In 1848, he returned to Paris where he was introduced to several of the eminent artists of that period, including Gustave Flaubert and Théophile Gautier. He returned to Southern France on a number of occasions in this period, in order to socialise with the local people. His early musical studies were overseen by Louise Farrenc, his aunt and professor of piano at the Paris Conservatory. Gradually, he began to garner some public recognition for his works, and whilst he was well received by some critics, he was less so by others. It wasn’t until 1862 that his work was notably well recognised for its quality, when he was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honour. Since he was unable to survive financially on the earnings of his works alone, he took the post of music critic at Journal des débats as well as working as a librarian for the Académie de musique.