François Couperin

David Tunley

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
François Couperin

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François Couperin (b. 1688–d. 1733) was the most famous member of a French dynasty of musical Couperins stretching from the middle of the 16th century to the middle of the 19th century. Known as “Couperin le grand,” he was a brilliant organist and harpsichordist, and, as a composer, his works reflect the changes that came over French music at the beginning of the 18th century. It was a time when the court-centered music of the previous century (often known in modern studies as the French “classical style”) began to give way under the impact of Italian baroque music being performed in Paris for the first time. The changes coincided with the waning influence of Versailles after 1685. Although Couperin’s love of the music of the 17th-century court composer Lully remained strong throughout his life, he was also at the head of a movement that sought to combine the best qualities of the French and Italian styles, a union that he described as the “perfection of music.” To the end of his life he inhabited both the ambience of Versailles (where he was a court musician) and the more cosmopolitan and lively city of Paris. His compositions mirror these two worlds. Couperin’s name is often linked with that of Rameau, but the latter was of a slightly later generation, his compositions bearing the imprint of the innovations already introduced by Couperin. Moreover, Rameau was known primarily as an opera composer, a form untouched by the other. A number of the studies listed below are not necessarily directed specifically at Couperin, but, nevertheless, they provide a very useful historical or stylistic context in which to place the composer. They are all essential to a fuller understanding of this remarkable musician. Couperin’s complete works were first published in 1932–1933. They have been revised from 1980 onward. The work, which is still to be completed, has brought Couperin research to a new level of expertise (although the original edition by Cauchie is still highly regarded). The new edition includes material not available in the 1930s and reflects the extremely high level of modern musical scholarship.

Article.  8099 words. 

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

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