Paer was born at Parma
Parma is a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its ham, its cheese, its architecture and the fine countryside around it. This is the home of the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world....
. His father was a trumpeter with the Ducal Bodyguards and also performed at church and court events. His name, Ferdinando, was after Duke Ferdinand of Parma and was given to him by Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria, Duke Ferdinand's wife. He studied the theory of music under the violinist Ghiretti, a pupil of the Conservatorio della Pietà de' Turchini at Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...
. His first Italian opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...
, Circe, was given in Venice during carnival 1792; others rapidly followed, and his name was soon famous throughout Italy. In 1797 he went to Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...
, where his future wife, the singer Francesca Riccardi, had obtained an engagement and he became music director of the Kärntnertortheater until 1801; here he produced a series of operas, including his Camilla (1799) and his Achille (1801). In 1802 he was appointed composer to the court theatre at Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....
, where his wife was also engaged as a singer, and in 1804 the life appointment of Hofkapellmeister was bestowed upon him by the elector.
He wrote the opera Leonora
Leonora, ossia L’amore coniugale is an opera in two acts by the Italian composer Ferdinando Paer. The libretto, by Giovanni Schmidt, is based on Léonore ou L’Amour conjugal by Jean-Nicolas Bouilly, which was also the source of Beethoven's Fidelio...
(1804), based on the same story as Beethoven's
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...
Fidelio is a German opera in two acts by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is Beethoven's only opera. The German libretto is by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly which had been used for the 1798 opera Léonore, ou L’amour conjugal by Pierre Gaveaux, and for the 1804 opera Leonora...
. In 1807 Napoleon while in Dresden took a fancy to him, and took him with him to Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...
and Paris at a salary of 28,000 francs.
1809 Paer composed his most famous opera: Agnese a dramma semiserio per musica in two acts: Agnese, became successful throughout Europe and was performed at the most important theatres (Milan, Naples, Rome, Vienna, London and Paris). It had a deep influence on the following generations of composers and aroused the admiration of many celebrated musicians and musical critics such as Stendhal, Berlioz, Castil-Blaze and Chopin. The primary reason for this success is most certainly the high quality of the music involved, but the dramaturgical structure also presents significant material such as the madness scene of Agnese's father Uberto (bass).
In 1812 he succeeded Spontini
Gaspare Luigi Pacifico Spontini was an Italian opera composer and conductor, extremely celebrated in his time, though largely forgotten after his death.-Biography:...
as conductor of the Italian opera in Paris. He retained this post at the Restoration
The Bourbon Restoration is the name given to the period following the successive events of the French Revolution , the end of the First Republic , and then the forcible end of the First French Empire under Napoleon – when a coalition of European powers restored by arms the monarchy to the...
, also receiving the posts of chamber composer to the king and conductor of the private orchestra of the Duke of Orléans. In 1823 he retired from the Italian opera in favor of Rossini
Gioachino Antonio Rossini was an Italian composer who wrote 39 operas as well as sacred music, chamber music, songs, and some instrumental and piano pieces...
. It was around this time that he taught composition lessons to the young Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...
. In 1831 Paer was elected a member of the Academy, and in 1832 was appointed conductor of his orchestra by King Louis Philippe.
Paer wrote a total of 55 operas, in the Italian style of Paisiello
Giovanni Paisiello was an Italian composer of the Classical era.-Life:Paisiello was born at Taranto and educated by the Jesuits there. He became known for his beautiful singing voice and in 1754 was sent to the Conservatorio di S. Onofrio at Naples, where he studied under Francesco Durante, and...
Domenico Cimarosa was an Italian opera composer of the Neapolitan school...
. His other works, which include several religious compositions, cantatas, many songs and a short list of orchestral chamber pieces, are worthy of further study and performance. His music is highly imaginative and melodic. One of his pupils was Ferdinando Orlandi
Ferdinando Orlandi was an Italian composer best known for his operas. Born in Parma, he was a pupil of organist Gaspare Rugarli and composer Ferdinando Paer. He also studied at the Conservatorio della Pietà dei Turchini in Naples with Nicola Sala and Giacomo Tritto. In 1800 he took a position at...
- Ferdinando Paer and his Agnese http://www.ferdinandopaer.ch