Léo Delibes (1836-1891) was a French opera and ballet composer who was responsible for the historic movement of ballet music toward s that of symphonic proportions. In a typical French manor, Delibes’ music is characterized by its refined, light, and graceful style with an edge of exoticism. Delibes’ dedication to the creation of symphonic ballet music fostered a new genre of musical composition. His influence is apparent in the works of later ballet composers, including the beloved Tchaikovsky.
During his musical career, Delibes composed three ballet scores – La Source (1866), Coppélia (1870) and Sylvia (1876). Of these, Coppélia is distinguished as the work that significantly propelled forward the genre of ballet music. Delibes included a vast amount of expressivity in his music, a concept unheard of at the time. This expression created works that are regarded as descriptive tone poems, containing elements of early impressionism in addition to the refined use of the leitmotif. The sophisticated and advanced nature of his ballet compositions has allowed his works to remain adored by modern audiences.