Jean François Gail

Jean François Gail (1795–1845) was a French classicist, the only son of the prolific hellenist and editor Jean-Baptiste Gail (1755–1829), and his wife Sophie Gail (1775–1819), a singer and composer. The parents married with two decades difference in their ages and were divorced in 1801.

His Dissertation sur le Périple de Seylax: Et sur l'époque présumée de sa rédaction (1825) marks the beginning of modern critical study of the Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax. He also edited texts of other minor Greek writers on geography.

Gail was musical. He wrote many words for songs by Luigi Cherubini,[1] and for Hector Berlioz he wrote the libretto for the cantata La mort de Sardanapale (1830), the last, of Berlioz' four attempts at the Prix de Rome.[2] His text for the Prix de Rome cantata of Hippolyte-Raymond Colet (L'entrée en Loge, 1834) also proved successful for that composer.[3] In his Réflexions sur le goût musical en France (1832) he criticized French composers who were dazzled by the success of Gioachino Rossini and were tempted to imitate him.[4]

Selected works


  1. "Sophie Gail"
  2. Text: La mort de Sardanapale (misattributed here to J.-B. Gail)
  3. Julie Deramond, La cantate du prix de Rome, côté livret...(1803–1871) 2011.
  4. Noted by Steven Huebner, "Italianate duets in Meyerbeer's grand operas", Journal of Musicological Research, 8.3–4 (1989) pp203-58.
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