Edouard Lalo

Symphonie espagnole, op. 21

            French instrumental music during the nineteenth century generally was the poor sister of opera in that country, despite American familiarity nowadays with the instrumental works of Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, and Franck.  It is to Edouard Lalo’s relentless pursuit of the composition and performance of chamber music that much of its renewed strength was achieved during the middle of the century.  Today, Lalo’s fame in France is primarily based upon his masterpiece, the opera, Le roi d’Ys (1888), based upon the Breton legend of the sunken city in Douarnenez Bay, near Brest.  Nevertheless, his world wide reputation is largely founded on his ever-popular violin concerto, somewhat misleadingly entitled a “Spanish symphony,” but almost universally referred to as “the Lalo.”  La