For most of his life, Georges Bizet was an ardent follower of the Paris musical fashion in the middle of the 19th century, which was for light-hearted operatic works in the style of Meyerbeer, and for displays of excessive virtuosity. If it were not for his change in taste in his last 4 years of life, his music would be forgotten today. He is almost in the category of a "Single Work"  composer, namely the opera Carmen.

In his last 4 years he studied Mozart, Schumann, and Mendelssohn, and he also became strongly influenced by Provenšal and Spanish music. He wrote a Symphony in C, with strong Mozartian influences, and Jeux d'Enfants, a series of 12 duets for piano, which he later orchestrated.

The Incidental music to L'Arlesienne is a suite for orchestra, full of delightful and memorable melodies. Some of these are Provenšal folk melodies, but the structure and orchestration are rich products of Bizet's own genius.

 He is most famous for his opera "Carmen", which was received coldly when first performed in Paris. It was criticised for being too "Symphonic", probably because the fashion in Paris at the time was for a much shallower style of operatic music. It became an instant success in other countries, especially because of the Spanish flavour, more "Spanish" than works by some Spanish composers. Ten years later it became accepted in France, and it has gone on to become one of the most famous operas of all time.