Adolphe Adam
French composer 1803 ~ 1856

Adolphe Adam - A short profile


Of an inquisitive disposition (some might say nosy) and fascinated by trivia I often get carried away by ancillary information contained on sheet music at rehearsal, including the listings on the back page under the heading “you may also like” or “from the same publisher”. Older items with exotic names such as Boosey and Hawkes, Roberton and Curwen and price marking 71/2d seem to have a particular fascination in quieter moments of reflection when other sections are being ‘put through their paces’. Recent subjects of my flights of fancy have been the composer Adolphe Adam and poet J S Stallybrass and further research proved surprising and rather interesting.

Adolphe Charles Adam was a music critic and prolific composer of classical, choral and light music, credited with more than seventy operas, operettas and comic operas, fifteen full length ballets as well as various other works of choral and light music. Adam also taught at the Paris conservatoire for a period of time and is thought to have been influential in the education of Delibes and other contemporary composers. Perhaps today his best known work is his ballet Giselle, what is perhaps less well known is he was also the composer of the beautiful Christmas carol O Holy Night translated from the French Cantique de Noël by John Sullivan Dwight to become one of the nations favourites. Further evidence of his musical skills are found in his choral works which include his 1848 composition Les Enfants de Paris, probably inspired by the French revolution of that year and known to male voice choirs in the English speaking world as The Comrades Song of Hope or Comrades in Arms with words by J S Stallybrass (of Martyrs of the Arena fame) and George Linley respectively, depending on which version you prefer.

Adolphe Adam was born in Paris, to Jean-Louis Adam a professor at the Paris Conservatoire and accomplished pianist, composer and teacher, his mother a physician’s daughter. His parents were against him following a career in music but Adolphe had other ideas and studied in secret with musician friends and finally entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1821 where he studied organ and harmonium. He was soon writing songs for the theatre and later played in the orchestra before becoming the chorus master at the Gymnasia Dramatique, whilst still living mainly on his earnings from playing the organ and arranging music for others. In the late 1840s Adam had severe financial difficulties after a failed investment in a new opera house which resulted in him returning to journalism and teaching at the Conservatoire. He died in 1856 he was buried in the cemetery in Montmartre.


Palfreyman May 2017

About Farthingale Publications...


... Is a hobby web site containing articles of local interest to Lancastrians, some favourite walking and cycling routes, selected words and poetry, and some writings of more general and whimsical nature, as well as the authors own picture gallery. Access is available via the homepage and menu at the head of the page. Listed below is a selection of recommended reading.

Richmond Hill Dairies - Pemberton

These pages contain some personal memories from my youth and my association with Richmond Hill Dairies, a local business I grew up with and remember with some affection. A well known and important feature of the local community in its day and part of the heritage of Pemberton, this is my attempt to commit some small snapshot of its history to print, I hope these pages paint a worthy picture.

Mind Your Language

A humorous poem by "the bard of Haydock" George Anderton, inspired by memories of a trip to Bad Canstatt, Stuttgart Germany with the Haydock Male Voice Choir in 1975. This publication will bring a smile to the faces of not only those members who were there at the time and know the people involved but the wider population of Haydock as well who speak the language.

Wigan and the American Civil War

Wigan Coal and Iron Company, The Right Honourable John Lancaster MP for Wigan, the Confederate Raider Alabama, USS Kearsarge, Cherbourg and the yacht Deerhound all feature in the last great sea battle of the American Civil War.

Wigan Old Bank 1792

A tragic boating accident on Windermere and a surprising journey through the social history of Wigan during the reign of Queen Victoria, highlighting the relationships between four families who played an important part in the commercial development of the town.

The Brocklebank Line

Daniel Brocklebank (1741-1801), shipbuilder and mariner, a brief biography, and some background detail of his family and the shipping line he founded.

Little Ships at Zeebrugge

An account of a heroic attempt to block the port of Zeebrugge during the first World War, to protect supply routes into the UK by denying enemy submarines based there access to the open sea.

A Cricket Calypso

A short biopic of cricketer Cyril Washbrook and a snapshot of his career including his role in the West Indies tour of 1950 recorded in the lyrics of the Cricket Calypso.

Not Much of a Warrior

Wigan RLFC in the fifties and sixties, through rose coloured glasses. A golden age of legendary players and memorable moments, along with some personal memories.

Further reading material


Local Interest: Richmond Hill Dairies; Mind Your Language; John Lancaster MP; Thomas Aspinwall (Miners Agent); Upholland Telephone Exchange 1962; Thomas Linacre School; Scot Lane School; The Lindsays of Haigh; Dust Upon God's Fair Earth; Nurburgring 1960; Wigan Advertisements 1960; Wigan Soldier Missing in Action; It's a Funny Life; Thomas Whitham VC; Isaac Watts; Wigan Old Bank; The Brocklebank Line; John Byrom of Lowton; The Holy City; Private Walter Turton; Little Ships at War; Cricket Calypso; Not Much of a Warrior.

Walking & Cycling: Moss Eccles Tarn; Abbey Lakes to Coppull Moor; Chorley Ice Cream Walk; Douglas Valley Dawdle; Three Counties Cycle Ride; Haigh to Borsdane Wood; A Lancshire Lineaer Walk; Blackrod or Bust; Cycle the Sankey Valley; Cycle the Monsal Trail; Wigan Circular by Bike; Freshfield to Crosby; Irwell Valley Trail (Bury to Rawtenstall); Irwell Valley (Bury to Salford).

Words & Poetry: The Heart of Midlothian; The Family Man; The Fair Rosamond; The Fair Rosamond Comic; The Wreck of the Hesperus; Th'Coartin' Neet; Dombey and Son; Aw've Turned me bit O' Garden O'er; On Th' Hills; Four Favourite Poems; The Darkling Thrush; The Glory of the Garden; The Rolling English Road; Hymn Before Action; Dust upon God's Fair Earth; Mind Your Language; Jeff Unsworth’s dialect poetry; Martyrs of the Arena.

Wallgate Chronicles: Hugo Boss comes to Wigan; In the footsteps of the Manchester Rambler; Fun with Trigonometry; Surprise at the Philharmonic; Cat Bells; A Walk in the Hills; Eay Times Uv Changed; Fidelio; The Ravioli Room; Desert Island Discs; Travels in Time; The Spectroscope; The Bohemian Girl; Bookcase; Barnaby Rudge; Romance on a Budget; The Battle of Solferino; The Getaway Car; The Switchroom Wigan; The Force of Destiny; Adolphe Adam; The Fair Maid of Perth; Ivanhoe; Semele; Lohengrin.

Farthingale Publications: A hobby website of curiosities and nonsense

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