Lalo was born in Lille (Nord), in northernmost France. He attended that city's music conservatory in his youth. Then, beginning at age 16, Lalo studied at the Paris Conservatoire under Berlioz's old enemy FranÁois Antoine Habeneck. For several years, he worked as a string player and teacher in Paris. In 1848, he joined with friends to found the Armingaud Quartet, playing viola and second violin. Lalo's earliest surviving compositions are songs and chamber works. (Two early symphonies were destroyed.) Julie Besnier de Maligny, a contralto from Brittany, became his bride in 1865. She aroused Lalo's early interest in opera and led him to compose works for the stage. Unfortunately, they were deemed too progressive and Wagnerian and were not initially well received despite their freshness and originality. This led him to dedicate most of his career to the composition of chamber music, which was in vogue, and to writing works for orchestra.