French composer and conductor Eugene Bozza wrote many large-scale stage works, but he is best known outside of France for more modest woodwind and brass pieces in a highly accessible, elegant, lyrical style. Some have become standard student test works; others, for wind quintet, saxophone quartet, and various unusual instrumental combinations, are favorite faculty recital items. Celebrity soloists rarely play his music, but Bozza is nevertheless widely heard in European and American conservatories.
He studied at the Paris Conservatory with the likes of Busser and Rabaud; he was a brilliant student, taking first prize in violin, conducting, and composition. In 1934 his lyric fantasy La Legende de Roukmani garnered him the Prix de Rome. After the Italian sojourn that came with that prize, Bozza served as conductor of the Paris Opera-Comique from 1939 to 1948. In 1951 he moved to Valenciennes to become director of the Ecole Nacionale de Musique, a post he held until his 1975 retirement. In 1956 he became a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. Among his larger works are a symphony, a violin concerto, a piano concerto, and two Requiems. Perhaps significantly, his stage works -- including the ballets Fêtes romaines and Jeux de plage and the operas Beppo and La Duchesse de Langeais -- were premiered not in Paris but in provincial centers, notably Lille.