The classical musical tradition in France burst into bloom in the 19th century with such composers as Hector Berlioz, Charles Gounod, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Georges Bizet, known for his opera Carmen.
Their work would later inspire Maurice Ravel, who wrote Boléro, and Claude Debussy, whose dreamlike compositions include Prélude à l'Après-Midi d'un Faune. Since medieval times, the chanson française has been a thriving form of indigenous music. First made popular by troubadours, the chanson tradition, which emphasizes lyrics exploring all aspects of life, eventually made its way to the music halls of the 1920s and then to the repertoire of such legendary singers as Charles Aznavour, Maurice Chevalier, Léo Ferré, Edith Piaf, and Charles Trenet. The tradition has also been carried on with such composers as Georges Brassens and Jacques Brel and folk singer-songwriter Georges Moustaki.
Dance, particularly ballet, has a long tradition in France, dating back to performances at the French court in the 16th century. In the 19th century, France was at the forefront of international ballet, with the creation of such classic works as La Sylphide and Giselle playing to packed houses in Paris. Among the great works by Marseille-born choreographer Marius Petipa are La Bayadère and Le Lac des Cygnes. In the 1950s and 1960s, choreographer Maurice Néjart had a major impact with such ballets as Le Sacre du Printemps. Today the ballet tradition lives on through such internationally renowned companies as the Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris and the Ballet de l'Opéra de Lyon.