As a young man Auber was sent abroad by his father, successful Parisian art dealer. In London Auber studied business, but he also established himself in musical circles and began to compose songs. The increasing breakdown of relations between England and France impelled him to return home in 1803. On his return he forsook a business career and dedicated himself to composition, at first for the nascent opera comique. For a long while he was unsuccessful, but his talent was obvious and he received much encouragement, from Luigi Cherubini among others. In time he became popular, and eventually he completed about 50 operas, most notable among them being Fra Diavolo, which remains in the permanent repertoire.
Auber's career divides between the opera comique and French grand opera, in both of which media he may be considered a cofounder. His style is light, decidedly at a remove from that of his weightier contemporaries, and has often been compared to that of Rossini, though it must be said that Auber's compositions would never be mistaken for those of anyone else. In 1842 he was appointed to the faculty of the Paris Conservatory, a post he retained until his death at the age of 89. ~Douglas Purl