André Ernest Modeste Grétry (February 8, 1741 ? September 24, 1813) was a Belgian composer, who worked from 1767 onwards in France.
He was born at Liège, his father being a poor musician. He was a choir-boy at the church of Saint-Denis. In 1753 he became a pupil of Leclerc and later of the organist at St-Pierre de Liège, Nicolas Rennekin, for keyboard and composition and of Henri Moreau, music master at the collegiate church of St_Paul. But of greater importance was the practical tuition he received by attending the performance of an Italian opera company. Here he heard the operas of Galuppi, Pergolesi, and other masters; and the desire of completing his own studies in Italy was the immediate result. To find the necessary means he composed in 1759 a mass which he dedicated to the canons of the Liège cathedral, and it was at the cost of Canon Hurley that he went to Italy in March 1759. In Rome he went to the Collège de Liège. Here Grétry resided for five years, studiously employed in completing his musical education under Casali. His proficiency in harmony and counter point was, however, according to his own confession, at all time very moderate.
His first great success was achieved by La Vendemmiatrice, an Italian intermezzo or operetta, composed for the Aliberti theatre in Rome and received with universal applause. It is said that the study of the score of one of Monsigny's operas, lent to him by a secretary of the French embassy in Rome, decided Grétry to devote himself to French comic opera. On New Year's day 1767 he accordingly left Rome, and after a short stay at Geneva (where he made the acquaintance of Voltaire, and produced another operetta) went to Paris.
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