At the Paris Conservatory (1876–1881), Bruneau studied the cello under Franchomme (for which he earned a first prize), and then composition with Jules Massenet. After joining Josef Pasdeloup's orchestra, he began composition in earnest and became the author of several popular operas, some of which were collaborations with his friend Emile Zola as librettist. From 1903 to 1904 he was musical director of the Opéra-Comique, and the following year was appointed to the governing body of the Paris Conservatory, becoming inspector-general of music education in 1909, and a member of the Academy of Fine Arts in 1925. He also wrote memoirs of Zola, Massenet, and essays on the theory of opera.
It was in Bruneau's capacity as President of the newly-formed International Union of Composers (L'Union Internationale des Compositeurs de Musique) that he corresponded with Tchaikovsky in 1884.
Correspondence with Tchaikovsky
One letter from Tchaikovsky to Alfred Bruneau has survived, dating from 1884, and has been translated into English on this website: