BENJAMIN GODARD (1849 - 1895)
A violist and pupil of Henri Vieuxtemps, the French composer Benjamin Louis Paul Godard won a precociously early reputation as a composer of salon music, with a series of pieces that would once have found a ready place in any album of piano music. His other music, influenced by contemporary German trends, is more substantial, if neglected.
Godard is chiefly remembered for his operas. Les bijoux de Jeanette, his first opera, was produced in 1878, followed by Pedro de Zalamea in 1884 and Jocelyn in 1888. The Berceuse from Jocelyn proved its most popular element and has been arranged for numerous combinations of instruments and voices. Other operas were unsuccessful, although his final comic opera La vivandière, left incomplete at his death, seemed to promise more.
The four published symphonies of Godard include a Symphonie gothique and a Symphonie orientale, while his concertos consist of two Piano Concertos and two Violin Concertos, the first a Concert romantique. Other works include orchestral arrangement of the piano Scènes italiennes and Scènes écossaises.
Godard wrote five Violin Sonatas and a series of other pieces for violin and piano and other ensembles.
Much of Godard’s piano music is in the form of salon pieces of no great pretensions, designed for a lucrative popular market.