James Harding (30 May 1929 – 21 June 2007) was a British writer on music and theatre with a particular interest in 19th- and early 20th-century French subjects and popular British music.
James Harding was born in Bath, England, but the family moved to Trowbridge. He went on to study French at Bristol University, also spending time at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. He undertook national service in the RAF, but through an accidental hand grenade detonation lost hearing in his left ear.After the war, he worked as a copywriter with Clarks in Somerset, then moved to advertising agencies in London. He wrote a column for the News of the World with the pseudonym "Jane Dunbar". He married and had a son and a daughter.
In 1969 Harding changed his career and became a Lecturer in French at Woolwich Polytechnic, where he taught for 25 years. He obtained a doctorate from Birkbeck College in 1973 with his thesis on the French diarist Paul Léautaud, and published in 1975 wrote a book, Lost Illusions: Paul Léautaud and his World.Initially as a holiday activity he began writing, with his first book in 1965 on Saint-Saëns and His Circle following this in 1968 with Sacha Guitry, The Last Boulevardier and studies of Massenet, Rossini, Gounod, Satie, Offenbach, Maurice Chevalier and Jacques Tati, and provided notes for French music records. British subjects treated by him included Ivor Novello and George Robey.
Late in life Harding became interested in Malaysia, which he visited several times; he taught himself Malay in order to compile a book on the singer and film actor P. Ramlee. He was also a radio broadcaster. Journals for which he wrote included The Listener , Music and Musicians , Records and Recordings and Connaissances des Hommes; and he also had articles in the American Encyclopedia of Music and Musicians and the Dictionnaire de la Musique.
Ivor Novello was a Welsh composer and actor who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the first half of the 20th century.
Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French composer, organist, conductor and pianist of the Romantic era. His best-known works include Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso (1863), the Second Piano Concerto (1868), the First Cello Concerto (1872), Danse macabre (1874), the opera Samson and Delilah (1877), the Third Violin Concerto (1880), the Third ("Organ") Symphony (1886) and The Carnival of the Animals (1886).
Jacques Offenbach was a German-French composer, cellist and impresario of the romantic period. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss, Jr. and Arthur Sullivan. His best-known works were continually revived during the 20th century, and many of his operettas continue to be staged in the 21st. The Tales of Hoffmann remains part of the standard opera repertory.
Charles-François Gounod, usually known as Charles Gounod, was a French composer. He wrote twelve operas, of which the most popular has always been Faust (1859); his Roméo et Juliette (1867) also remains in the international repertory. He composed a large amount of church music, many songs, and popular short pieces including his Ave Maria, and Funeral March of a Marionette.
Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet was a French composer of the Romantic era best known for his operas, of which he wrote more than thirty. 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.
Yvonne Printemps was a French singer and actress who achieved stardom on stage and screen in France and internationally.
Alexandre-Pierre Georges "Sacha" Guitry was a French stage actor, film actor, director, screenwriter, and playwright of the Boulevard theatre. He was the son of a leading French actor, Lucien Guitry, and followed his father into the theatrical profession. He became known for his stage performances, often in boulevardier roles, in the many plays he wrote, of which there were more than 120. He was married five times, always to rising actresses whose careers he furthered. Probably his best-known wife was Yvonne Printemps to whom he was married between 1919 and 1932.
Ernest Guiraud was a French composer and music teacher born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is best known for writing the traditional orchestral recitatives used for Bizet's opera Carmen and for Offenbach's opera Les contes d'Hoffmann.
André Charles Prosper Messager was a French composer, organist, pianist and conductor. His compositions include eight ballets and thirty opéras comiques, opérettes and other stage works, among which his ballet Les Deux Pigeons (1886) and opéra comique Véronique (1898) have had lasting success; Les P'tites Michu (1897) and Monsieur Beaucaire (1919) were also popular internationally.
Aldo Ciccolini was an Italian-French pianist.
Alexandre Charles Lecocq was a French composer, known for his opérettes and opéras comiques. He became the most prominent successor to Jacques Offenbach in this sphere, and enjoyed considerable success in the 1870s and early 1880s, before the changing musical fashions of the late 19th century made his style of composition less popular. His few serious works include the opera Plutus (1886), which was not a success, and the ballet Le cygne (1899). His only piece to survive in the regular modern operatic repertory is his 1872 opéra comique La fille de Madame Angot. Others of his more than forty stage works receive occasional revivals.
Michel Carré was a prolific French librettist.
Pol Henri Plançon was a distinguished French operatic bass. He was one of the most acclaimed singers active during the 1880s, 1890s and early 20th century—a period often referred to as the "Golden Age of Opera".
Paul Jules Barbier was a French poet, writer and opera librettist who often wrote in collaboration with Michel Carré. He was a noted Parisian bon vivant and man of letters.
Jean-Émile Diogène Marcoux was a French operatic bass-baritone, known professionally as Vanni Marcoux. He was particularly associated with the French and Italian repertories. His huge repertoire included an estimated 240 roles and he won renown as one of the most memorable singing-actors of the 20th century.
Ernest Blanc was a French opera singer, one of the leading baritones of his era in France.
Sacha Skarbek is a British Ivor Novello Award two-time winner and Grammy nominated songwriter, producer, film scorer and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known for writing James Blunt's hit singles "You're Beautiful" and "Goodbye My Lover" as well as Miley Cyrus' hit song "Wrecking Ball". Skarbek has worked with artists such as Adele, Lana Del Rey, Jason Mraz, Tears for Fears, Duffy and many more.
Le timbre d'argent is an opéra fantastique in four acts by composer Camille Saint-Saëns to a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. Although completed in 1865, the opera did not receive its premiere performance until 23 February 1877, when it was presented by Albert Vizentini's Théâtre National Lyrique at the Théâtre de la Gaîté in Paris. It includes the well-known aria "Le bonheur est chose légère."
Marylène Dosse is a French-born American classical pianist.
In 1862 during Haussmann's modernization of Paris the Théâtre de la Gaîté of the boulevard du Temple was relocated to the rue Papin across from the Square des Arts et Métiers. The new theatre, built in an Italian style to designs of the architects Jacques-Ignace Hittorff and Alphonse Cusin, opened on 3 September.