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François Habeneck

François Antoine Habeneck

François Antoine Habeneck (22 January 1781 – 8 February 1849) was a French classical violinist and conductor.

Early lifeEdit

Habeneck was born at Mézières, the son of a musician in a French regimental band. During his early youth, Habeneck was taught by his father, and at the age of ten played concertos in public. In 1801, he entered the Conservatoire de Paris, where he studied under Pierre Baillot and obtained the violin first prize in 1804. In the same year, he joined the orchestra of the Opéra-Comique, but shortly afterwards moved to that of the Paris Opera. He conducted student concerts at the Conservatoire from 1806 onwards.

Career at the Paris OperaEdit

On 1 June 1817, Habeneck became an Assistant Conductor (chef d'orchestre adjoint) of the Paris Opera, a post he held until 1 January 1819, when he was replaced by J.-J. Martin.[1] On 1 April 1820, on a trial basis, Henri Valentino replaced J.-J. Martin as Second Conductor (deuxième chef d'orchestre, à titre d'essai), but in August, Valentino and Habeneck were jointly designated successors to Rodolphe Kreutzer, the First Conductor (premier chef d'orchestre), only to take effect, however, when Kreutzer left that position. In the meantime, on 1 November 1821, Habeneck became the administrative director of the Opera. On 1 December 1824, when Kreutzer retired as the conductor of the orchestra, Habeneck and Valentino became joint First Conductors, and Raphaël de Frédot Duplantys replaced Habeneck as the Opera's administrator. Valentino resigned on 1 June 1831, and Habeneck remained as the sole First Conductor until his retirement on 1 November 1846.[2] During that time, he conducted the first performances of, among other operas, Robert le diable, La Juive, Les Huguenots and Benvenuto Cellini.[3]

According to the French music historian Arthur Pougin, Habeneck was initially the conductor responsible for the preparation of Spontini's Olimpie, but at one of the general rehearsals Habeneck and Spontini had a violent quarrel, resulting in Habeneck's dismissal, and Henri Valentino was put in charge of Olimpie.[4]

Orchestral concerts, compositions, pupils and later yearsEdit

Habeneck became the founding conductor of the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire in 1828. By means of these concerts, he introduced Beethoven's symphonies into France. He composed two concertos, compositions for the violin, and several songs, but published only a few of his compositions. Among his pupils were Jean-Delphin Alard, Hubert Léonard, Léon Le Cieux and Édouard Lalo. Hector Berlioz, in his memoirs, denounced Habeneck for incompetence in conducting Berlioz's own Requiem.

Habeneck died in Paris in 1849.

Preceded by
Principal conductors,
Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire

Succeeded by
Narcisse Girard


  1. ^ Wild 1989, p. 312.
  2. ^ Wild 1989, p. 307, 312.
  3. ^ Macdonald 1992 & 2001. Macdonald also credits Habeneck as the conductor of the premiere of Rossini's Guillaume Tell. However, Castil-Blaze 1855, p. 211, reports that the opera was prepared and conducted by Henri Valentino. Castil-Blaze does not mention either conductor in his review of 5 August 1829 in the Journal des débats, "Chronique Musicale, Académie royale de musique, Guillaume Tell (under the byline 'X. X. X.').
  4. ^ Pougin 1880. Olympie was first performed on 22 December 1819 and in a revised version on 27 February 1826. Pougin does not specify whether this incident occurred during the preparations for the 1819 premiere or the 1826 revival.


  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Habeneck". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.

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