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WACHS, Frédéric (1824-1896)

Born in Paris on 16 October 1824 (and not in 1825, as all earlier biographical notices concerning him have stated), Frédéric Wachs was the son of a music teacher – a valuable piece of information about the artistic training of a young man whose first steps are otherwise entirely unknown. After enrolling in Révial’s singing class in March 1847, Wachs was likely held back in his studies at the Paris Conservatoire by the Revolution of 1848: in September 1849, his name was removed from the institution’s registers due to his poor attendance. During the Second Empire, Wachs did not earn a living from his singing skills: his reputation was due to his talents as a music arranger. He specialised in arranging for piano beginners great operatic successes by Mozart, Grétry, Donizetti, Bellini, Rossini and Meyerbeer. In accordance with the fashion of the time, he also transcribed a number of Classical (Gluck, Méhul, Pergolesi) or modern arias as quadrilles. His assembly-line outputof piano pieces was varied by occasional forays into vocal music with short religious or comical pieces. The same mixture of sacred and secular characterised his work under the Third Republic: while occupying the post of choir organist at the church of Saint-Merri in Paris, Wachs composed numerous one-act operettas for the Théâtre de l’Eldorado, the Folies-Bergères and the Théâtre des Familles. His son Paul (1851-1915) followed in his father's footsteps, combining his position as titular organist of the same church with an output of lighter music.