Happy Birthday, Edmée Sophie Gail (1775-1819)

Edmée Sophie Gail was born on August 28, 1775 in Paris and showed musical talent as a singer and composer from a young age. The start of the French Revolution coincided with the publication of Gail's first songs in magazines, and Gail was able to continue work as a singer and composer throughout that tumultuous period. She studied voice, theory, and composition in Paris, the latter with François-Joseph Fétis, who later dedicated a Mass to her (RISM ID no. 700006118). She published songs throughout her life, had five operas premiered, and toured Europe as a singer and accompanist (and a couple of her arrangements are in the RISM database).

Sophie Gail's compositional output is reflected in part by the 53 manuscripts for her works in the RISM database. Though she published a lot of chansons in music magazines and periodicals, most of the music for her in the RISM database is in the form of manuscript copies. Her first opera, Les deux jaloux, which premiered on 27 March 1813 by the Opéra-Comique in Paris, was her most successful opera. There are three sources for it in RISM: one full score in copy dating from around the time of her death, and two excerpts that appear in larger manuscript collections. A digitized printed full score is available from the Archives de la Ville de Bruxelles / Archief van de Stad Brussel. Gail's most popular song was "Celui qui sut toucher mon coeur," a chanson d'une Tyrolienne that is transmitted in twelve sources in libraries in Austria, Belgium, Germany, and the United States.

Gail died in Paris on 24 July 1819 and was buried at Père-Lachaise cemetery. Her former teacher, Fétis, wrote a Miserere upon her death (RISM ID no. 403008216).

Image: Portrait of Edmée Sophie Gail by Auguste Delvaux, after Eugène Isabey (1840). Via Gallica.




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