French Composer 1632-1687
English Composer 1659-1695
born in Florence on 28 November 1632; died in Paris on 22 March
birth, Lully made his career in France, where he rose from the
position of a page to Mlle de Montpensier to that of Composer
of the King's Music, Master of Music to the Royal Family and to
a position of complete control of all musical performances that
involved singing throughout. He collaborated with Molière
and with Corneille and, more particularly, with the poet Quinault,
creating a specifically French form of opera in various genres,
comédies-ballets and tragédies lyriques, in both
of which there was an element of dance, a French royal preoccupation.
He was the most important French composer of his period, influential
in his development of the so-called French Overture.
He was taken
from Florence to Paris in 1646 by Roger de Lorraine, Chevalier
de Guise, who placed him in the service of his niece, Mlle de
Montpensier. At her court in the Tuileries Lully got to know the
best in French music and, despite his patroness's dislike of Mazarin
and her involvement in the Fronde, he was no stranger to Italian
music either. After the defeat of the Frondists, Mlle de Montpensier
was exiled to St. Fargeau. Lully obtained release from her service
and on the death of his friend Lazzarini, in 1653, was appointed
Louis XIV's compositeur de la musique instrumentale. From
1655 his fame as dancer, comedian and composer grew rapidly, and
his disciplined training of the king's 'petite bande' earned him
further recognition. In 1661 he was made surintendant de la
musique et compositeur de la musique de la chambre and in
1662 maître de la musique de la famille royale. By
then he was a naturalised Frenchman, and in July 1662 he married
Madeleine, daughter of the composer Michel Lambert.
collaborated with Molière on a series of comédies-ballets
which culminated in Le bourgeois gentilhomme (1670). After
that he turned to opera, securing the privilege previously granted
to Perrin and forestalling potential rivals with oppressive patents
granted by the king. He chose as librettist Philippe Quinault,
with whom he succeeded in establishing a new and essentially French
type of opera known as tragédie lyrique. Between 1673 and
1686 Lully composed 13 such works, 11 of them with Quinault.
also influential in the choice of music and musicians for the
royal chapel. His compositions for the church include a number
of motets, some six Grands motets and 14 Petits motets. An example
of the first is the fine setting of the Dies Irae from
the Requiem Mass, for double choir, of the Te Deum, and
the Miserere, the last a favourite of the king. Examples
of the second are his settings of the Vespers Psalm Dixit Dominus,
the Anima Christi and the Regina coeli.
time Lully continued to enjoy the king's support and his greatest
personal triumph came in 1681 when in an impressive ceremony he
was received as secrétaire du Roi. After 1683 life
at court took on a new sobriety; it was perhaps in response to
this that Lully composed much of his religious music. During a
performance of his Te Deum in January 1687 he injured his
foot with the point of a cane he was using to beat time. Gangrene
set in, and within three months he died, leaving a tragédie
lyrique, Achille et Polyxène, unfinished.
At his death
Lully was widely regarded as the most representative of French
composers. Practically all his music was designed to satisfy the
tastes and interests of Louis XIV. The ballets de cour
(1653-63) and the comédies-ballets (1663-72) were
performed as royal entertainment, the king himself often taking
part in the dancing. The tragédies lyriques (1673-86)
were kingly operas par excellence, expressing a classical conflict
between la gloire and l'amour; Louis himself supplied the subject
matter for at least four of them and certainly approved the political
sentiments of the prologues.
born in 1659: died in 1695.
(The History of Dioclesian)
(The British Worthy)
(The Enchanted Island)
Viceregent of the Mighty King
Isis, Swifter Flow
What Shall be Done in Behalf of Man?
Summer's Absence Unconcerned We Bear
Those Serene and Rapturous Joys
Why are all the Muses mute?
Music on the Death of Queen Mary, 1695
death in 1695 was a deep blow to the country. The daughter of
James II, who had been crowned Queen of England together with
her husband William III, Prince of Orange, in 1688, at the Glorious
Revolution, was well-loved throughout the country and the funeral
was to show her people's devotion to their late Queen. One also
has to bear in mind that funeral rituals in this period for such
high status persons were extremely staged and splendid affairs
in their sombre greatness and perfection. Thus no expense was
spared at the Queen's funeral, a testimony indeed to reflect the
Sir Christopher Wren himself, the architect of the new Saint Paul's
cathedral, which was destroyed in the 1660s during the great fire
of London, had ensured that the route to Westminster was lined
with black railings. The procession must have been awe inspiring.
Horses decked in black, everyone of status in the black and white
mourning robes, and three hundred sombre old women who led the
entourage, and of course the funeral coach itself; the old women
dressed all in black capes with boys carrying their trains.
Purcell's mesmerising choral music, its bittersweet quality, gave
the perfect, soul touching surrounding for this great and sad
affair, so full of melancholic emotions it was. The lyrics are
so atmospheric as to leave the listener motionless in the stark
loneliness and vulnerability of the knowledge of all humans' mortality.
not, Lord, our offences, nor the offences of our forefathers;
neither take thou vengeance of our sins, good Lord.
Spare thy people whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious
and be not angry with us for ever. Spare us, good Lord.
sing unto the Lord as long as I live;
I will praise my God while I have my being, and so shall my
words please him.
My joy shall be in the Lord;
as for sinners, they shall be consumed out of the earth and
the ungodly shall come to an end.
But praise ye the Lord, O my soul, praise the Lord.
thou art my God; early will I seek thee.
My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh also longeth after thee
in a barren and dry land where no water is.
Thus have I looked for thee in holiness that I might behold
thy power and glory.
For thy loving kindness is better than life itself; my lips
shall praise thee.
As long as I live will I magnify thee on this manner and lift
up my hands in thy name, because thou hast been my helper.
Therefore under the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice, Hallelujah.
the king of glory, who has exalted thine only son Jesus Christ
our Lord with great triumph into heaven.
We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless, but send to us thine
Holy Ghost to comfort us,
and exalt us unto the same place where our saviour Christ is
gone before us. Amen.
long wilt thou be angry? Shall thy jealousy burn like fire for
O remember not our old sins, but have mercy upon us, and that
soon, for we are come to great misery.
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name;
O deliver us, and be merciful unto our sins, for thy name's
So we that are thy people and the sheep of thy pasture shall
give thee thanks for ever,
and will always be showing forth thy praise from one generation
prayer, O Lord, and let my crying come unto thee.
Blow up the trumpet in Sion, sanctify a fast, gather the people,
and sanctify the congregation.
Assemble the elders, gather the children and those that suck
Let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out
of her closet.
Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the
porch and the altar,
and let them say: spare thy people, O Lord.
And give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should
rule over them.
Wherefore should they say among the people: where is their God?
O God thou
hast cast us out and scattered us abroad.
Thou hast also been displeased; O turn thee unto us again.
Thou hast moved the land and divided it; heal the sores thereof
for it shateth.
O be thou our help in trouble for vain is the help of man.
Through God will we do great acts and it is he that shall tread
down our enemies. Amen.
is born of a woman hath but a short time to live and is full
He cometh up and is cut down like a flower; he fleeth as it
were a shadow and ne'er continueth in one stay.
In the midst of Life we are in death;
of whom may we seek for succour but of thee, O Lord, who for
our sins art justly displeased?
Yet, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful saviour, deliver
us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.
Lord, the secrets of our hearts;
shut not thy merciful ears unto our prayers, but spare us, Lord
O God most mighty, O holy and most merciful saviour, though most
worthy judge eternal,
suffer us not at our last hour for any pains of death to fall
away from thee.
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