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Jules Massenet (12 May 1842 – 13 August 1912) was a French composer of the Romantic era. He is best known for his operas, of which he wrote over 30. The two most frequently staged are Manon (1884) and Werther (1892). He also composed oratorios, ballets, orchestral works, incidental music, piano pieces, songs and other music.
Massenet was born in Montaud, France, to a family of modest means. He began studying music at the age of 10, and he entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 11. He studied composition with Ambroise Thomas, and he won the Prix de Rome in 1863.
Massenet's early operas were not successful, but his fortunes changed with the premiere of Manon in 1884. Manon was a huge success, and it established Massenet as one of the leading opera composers of his day. He went on to write a string of successful operas, including Werther, Thaïs, and Hérodiade.
Massenet's music is characterized by its lyricism, its melodic appeal, and its use of French melodies and rhythms. He was also a master of orchestration, and his operas are full of beautiful orchestral textures.
Massenet was a popular and successful composer during his lifetime. He was made a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1897, and he was awarded the Legion of Honor in 1900. He died in Paris in 1912.
Massenet's music has continued to be performed and enjoyed since his death. His operas are still staged all over the world, and his songs and piano music are still played by musicians and enjoyed by audiences.