Georges Bizet, unfortunately for himself, belongs to a group of illustrious composers such as Mozart, Schubert and to a certain degree J.S. Bach who didn’t get to experience the enormous and enduring success of their music during their own lifetimes. Bizet died a sudden and untimely death in June 1875, only three months after the unsuccessful première of his opera Carmen at the Opéra-Comique in Paris. The opera’s première in Vienna in October that same year was a global triumph. Consequently, even though it only took a few more months for Carmen to become an instant success, Bizet didn’t live long enough to see his fame established.
The two Carmen suites were put together after Bizet’s death by a former fellow student of his, Ernest Guiraud. These suites can easily be called a collection of Carmen’s ‘greatest hits’. On this album they are combined with the Arlésienne suites No. 1 and 2, Bizet’s other hugely popular set of orchestral suites, which are taken from the incidental music he composed for L’Arlésienne, a tragedy by French novelist Alphonse Daudet.
In this 1978 recording of the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Neville Marriner the suites are performed by one of the world’s most renowned orchestras coupled with one of the most distinguished conductors of the 20th century.