Félix-Ludger Rossignol de Joncières, or Victorin Joncières, was born on 12 April 1839 in a wealthy family: his father Auguste-Félix de Joncières was a famous lawyer and journalist. Disillusioned with painting, he turned to music and studied harmony and counterpoint at the Paris Conservatoire in 1859-1860 in the classes of respectively Antoine Elwart and Simon Leborne. After a year, he resigned following a dispute he had with his teachers about Wagner, whom he idolized his whole life. The 1860s saw his first successes as a composer with Hamlet, created in 1862 at the Théâtre de la Gaîté and Sardanapale created in 1867 at the Théâtre-Lyrique. From 1871, he was a music critic for the newspaper La Liberté, under the pseudonym of “Jennius.” A fine analyst, Joncières commented all the production of his time, always to wagnerian standards. On 9 March 1873 his Symphonie romantique was created at the Concert national with great public success. But his greatest triumph came with his grand opera Dimitri, created on 5 May 1876 at the Théâtre-Lyrique. He was awarded the Légion d’honneur the following year and was the president of the Society of music composers from 1880 to 1886. In 1881, he composed La Mer, undertitled “Ode symphonique,” given at the Conservatoire.
He became less and less appreciated, suffered many critics and was denied Ambroise Thomas’ seat at the Institut in 1896. After his last work Lancelot was given at the Palais Garnier on 7 February 1900, he retired from the musical life. He died in Paris on 26 October 1903. Victorin Joncières was an iconic figure of the Parisian musical life in the 1800s. Long forgotten, he came back to interest at the beginning of the 2000s, both as a composer and as a music critic.
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