Nicholas Charles Bochsa, Le Roi et la Ligue

For orchestra (opera overture). Paris 1815.
Edited by Richard Divall
Australian Music Series – MDA033
ISBN 978-0-9925673-2-3 / ISMN 979-0-9009655-2-3

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Robert-Nicolas-Charles Bochsa (normally naMDA033 pic1med as Nicholas Charles), harp virtuoso, entrepreneur, publisher and composer was born on 9 August 1789 in Montmédy in Lorraine, France. As a composer he wrote several opera and opera-comiques, many of which were premiered in Paris, and he wrote numerous works for chamber instruments, including several sonatas for woodwinds. His output of composition for the harp was very large and his works are still part of the repertoire. Bochsa’s importance as a virtuoso performer and composer for the harp has eclipsed his real talents as an orchestral composer and as a writer for the theatre.

Unfortunately he involved himself in speculation and publishing ventures that saw him come under a series of criminal charges in the French Courts, which led to him fleeing France for England in 1817. Restabilising a career in London he was a prominent feature in concert life in that city, and a sought-after teacher. From 1826 to 1832 he presided over seven seasons at the Royal Italian Opera, where the new works of Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Giovanni Simone Mayr and Zingarelli were performed. Bochsa also composed five ballets, four of which were staged at the King’s Theatre in London.

In 1839 he absconded with the soMDA033 pic3prano Anna Bishop, the wife of the influential English composer, Sir Henry Bishop, and ironically the composer of ‘Home Sweet Home’. There began a long series of foreign tours that took the pair from Scandinavia and Russia to Mexico and several years in the United States, that finally ended in Sydney in 1855.

Bochsa arranged concerts with Anna Bishop to be given by the Sydney entrepreneur Andrew Torning, who was impresario in two Sydney theatres. Rehearsals also commenced for a season of Bellini’s Norma to be conducted by Bochsa, with Bishop in the title role. However after four concerts accompanying Bishop on the piano, Bochsa had a relapse of an earlier heart condition and died at the Royal Hotel in George Street on 6 January 1856.