In 1857, Georges Bizet (1838-1875) won the prestigious Prix de Rome scholarship which allowed him to study in Italy for a few years at the expense of the French state. While Bizet's correspondence from this time suggests that he was not fond of Italian music, he was especially drawn to the landscape and Italian Renaissance art and painting. Though Bizet's thoughts later turned away from rural life and the masterpieces of the Renaissance, his letters and journals from this period document the growth of a young musician who would eventually write Carmen.
Translated into English for the first time, Bizet's letters from his stay in Italy (at the Villa Medici in Rome, with expeditions to various other parts of the country) reveal much about his character and tastes. These extraordinary documents are fully annotated, and presented alongside never-before-published translations of Bizet's journals from the same years. Linking textual guides supplied by one of the leading authorities on the composer provide unique insights into the composer's formative years that cannot be found anywhere else.