Posts tagged ‘French Baroque’

December 25, 2017

music for Christmas (Eve, 1st Day, 2nd Day, etc, etc) – Pierre Dandrieu: À la Venue de Noel

by ada

From his collection of Noëls from 1714. Based on an ancient French Christmas carol which first appears in the manuscript Livres des Noëls from around 1497, and is printed for the first time in 1535 by Jacques Moderne, in his  collection of Christmas songs La Fleur des Noelz. 

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April 5, 2015

music for Easter Sunday – François Couperin: Motet pour le jour de Pâques

by ada

François Couperin (le Grand! – indeed he was great), court musician, composer and harpsichord teacher of the Sun King, Louis XIV, composed this Easter motet around 1700. It was most likely performed by his cousin, Marguerite-Louise Couperin, a soprano singer of the Chapelle Royale. Happy Easter!

December 7, 2014

music for the 2. Sunday of Advent – Michel Corrette: Sinfonia V. from 6 Symphonies en quatuor, contenant les plus beaux Noëls François & étrangers

by ada

For the second Sunday of Advent let’s get back into my comfort zone padded with late(-ish) French Baroque music, and listen to one of the Christmas symphonies of Michel Corrette, obsessive writer of DIY music treatises, knight of the Order of Christ, cultivator of the beau berger mindset that flourished in the social circles of the 17th-18th century French noblesse and, last but not least, composer of noëls and other funny things, such as concertos with titles like La Femme est une grand embarras or La Servante au bon Tabac. 

Noëls are the traditional Christmas carols of the French, and back in those times it was a thing amongst French composers to write variations based upon them for the organ, but (to my best knowledge) it was Corrette whom first occurred to bind a few of them together as a set and call it a symphony. Here is No 5 of the 6 Symphonies en quatuor, contenant les plus beaux Noëls François & étrangers, avec des variations pour un 1er violon ou flûte, un 2d violon, alto & basse chiffrée, & pouvant s’exécuter à gr. orchestre à l’Office divin, published in Paris in 1781. Its last movement is based on the melody that was well-known in Baroque Europe under various names, such as Fuggi, fuggi, fuggi; La Mantovana and Noël Suisse. Today most people recognise it as the melody of Hatikvah, the national anthem of Israel.*

* If when I’m done with the Salzburg Series and all my other series I’m dreaming of doing in my (nonexistent) free hours, like the Musica Hebraica, the Folia, the Female Baroque Composers, the Love, War and Death, etc, etc, I’m definitely doing a post on the early music background of Hatikvah. It’s not a long story to tell, so there is actually some hope of this happening, haha**

** hopefully I will still live blog at age 83***

*** Telemann, Schütz and even Corrette were still mentally fit and active around that age so nothing is impossible

April 21, 2014

music for Easter Monday – Jacques Champion de Chambonnières: Paschalia

by ada

For Easter Monday I chose a short (not even 2 minutes long) dance movement by one of the best French harpsichord players of the 17th century, Jacques Champion de Chambonnières. He served at the court of both Louis XIII and his son, Louis XIV, and among his pupils were Louis, Charles and François Couperin and Jean-Henri d’Anglebert. Although he was a very skilled musician who was held in high regard by his contemporaries, he also had his shortcomings that costed him his career: he couldn’t play the figured bass well enough to accompany the operas of Lully. And, as you might remember from yesterday’s post, Lully was a very influential man in the court of the Sun King (actually, he ruled the whole  17th century French music life. And he ruled it with a firm hand). So Chambonnières lost the game and had to go. He died a poor man, leaving exactly 142 small dance movements behind as a musical legacy. He published two collections of them during his lifetime, but some of them, as this short Paschalia, exist still only in manuscript.

What I love about this short piece of music is that it is like a dream within a dream: it has a hidden passacaille towards its end that, despite of being only 9 bars long (whole fifteen seconds in this recording), is a complete, perfect little piece in itself.

Because that’s how easy I am to please. You can buy my heart with fifteen seconds of ostinato.

April 20, 2014

music for Easter Sunday – Michel Corrette: Laudate Dominum de coelis

by ada

For Easter Sunday let’s have something fun: the motet Laudate Dominum de coelis  by Michel Corrette, the Telemann of France. He, just like Telemann, also played every existing instrument you can think of, including hurdy-gurdy. Being as altruistic as he was, he wanted to share his knowledge with everyone so he just kept on writing practical treatises (I’ve read only the one for the flute, but there are so many more). As for the music he composed, most of it can be described with the sole word: cute. All those glittery harpsichord pieces and delightful Noëls, really, pure cuteness. If we would all listen to more Baroque hurdy-gurdy music like this, we could make the world a funnier better place to live in.

The second movement might sound quaintly familiar which – would I not be so exhausted* – would bring me to the fascinating topic of copyright laws in the 18th century Europe and down the rabbit hole of the conflict of French and Italian music tastes during the 17th century, beginning with Giovanni Battista Lolli***, the most French (Frenchest?! Seriously, my English just keeps on getting worse with every word I type) composer of all times and trendsetter for generations of musicians who were – unlike him – indeed, French. He, btw, was also the one who monopolised the 17th century French music market through securing for himself the right to compose and produce operas, thereby financially ruining lots of his fellow colleagues. A smart businessman, he was.

* I spent the night with watching old series of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. I went to bed at 4 am. Now I feel like I slayed vampires all night. Or, more precisely, like I were a slain vampire myself**

** I’m totally aware of the fact that this is not the way one is supposed to spend the night of the Resurrection. But I have my excuses, like 1) my family doesn’t celebrate Easter (we still will organize an Easter egg hunting for M&M though, because well, they are children and children deserve to have fun) 2) I’ve had my head and soul full of ICU lately and just crave some meaningless recreation time before starting in a new hospital on Tuesday 3) I’m reliving my teens.

*** you may have heard of him as Jean-Baptiste Lully, the man who lived for and died of French music (literally)

PS.: Surrexit Christus hodie by Esterházy Pál for 2012 and a proper Easter Sunday cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach for 2013: Der Himmel lacht, die Erde jubilieret.

PS 2.: Happy Easter and Happy Passover!

December 25, 2013

music for Christmas Day – Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Noëls pour les instruments, H. 351 & 354

by ada

French Christmas songs, in sweet, 17th century Théâtre-Français style.

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