Article

Jean-Baptiste Lully

Bruce Gustafson

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online June 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0041
Jean-Baptiste Lully

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Jean-Baptiste Lully (b. 1632–d. 1687) is justifiably considered the founder of French opera, creating a style of musical declamation that suited the French language (in spite of the fact that he was Italian by birth), and incorporating elements of the French ballet. He was close to Louis XIV, with whom he danced in court ballets when both were young men, and the king granted Lully what amounted to a monopoly on stage music. Lully’s stage works are usually divided into three genres (with variations within each): ballet, a court entertainment in which dance was the primary element; comédie-ballet, in which a spoken play was surrounded by music both sung and danced before and after each act and sometimes during the acts; and tragédie en musique, in which a drama is sung throughout (the French equivalent of Italian opera) and dance is a prominent element. He also composed some sacred motets, but virtually all of the known instrumental music is derived from his stage music. He had two primary collaborators as librettists: in the early period, Jean-Baptiste Molière, and then Philippe Quinault, both of whom had distinguished literary careers. Lully’s operas held the stage in Paris far into the 18th century, but were then neglected and thought unsuitable for modern audiences until the 1980s, when a revival proved them still stage-worthy. This in turn sparked a greatly renewed scholarly interest in the composer, and the literature about Lully is much richer in this period than in the previous two hundred years. Nevertheless, there are still very few book-length studies devoted to Lully, and no substantive one has yet appeared in English. The present bibliography emphasizes scholarship since 1980, which in turn leads to earlier works.

Article.  9328 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Applied Music ; Ethnomusicology ; Music Theory and Analysis ; Musicology and Music History ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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