Sunday, 29 July 2012

Baroque Music Festival - Sunday Concert - and Louis XIV

Dimanche 29 Juillet


en partenariat avec la ville de Saint-Astier
et le Conseil Général de la Dordogne


Mors Saülis et Jonathae
Canticum pro pace
Troisième leçon de ténèbres du Mercredi Saint, H 135
Praelium Michaelis

"These sacred stories are actually the most original of all Charpentier's work.
In addition the composer shows clearly here his affiliation with Italian music,
especially that of Carissimi."  Catherine Cessac


Ton KOOPMAN, direction


photo credit:   Père Igor

Between Mussidan and Perigeux on the River Isle is the village of Saint Astier.
The village began in the 7th century when the hermit Asterius gave his name to the place.
In the 8th century a monastery dedicated to Saint Astier was built.
The original monastery was destroyed by Normans and rebuilt the following century.
There is a statue of Saint Astier in one of the small squares near the church.


Canticum de Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1636 - 1704)
Chef d'orchestre: Ton Koopman

Une gargouille du clocher de l'église Saint-Astier
photo credit:   Père Igor


Baroque Music

Elaine Thornburgh

The Baroque period of European musical history falls between the late Renaissance and early Classical periods, 
that is, roughly the century-and-a-half between 1600 and 1750. 
During the Renaissance, Europe had assimilated the humanism and rationalism of Greco-Roman civilization, had 
undergone the theological and political turmoil of religious reformation, and had, for the first time in the history of our species, begun to outline the contours of that scientific method which was to provide Europe with its technological impetus. During the era of Baroque music, European civilization emerged to a preeminence on the planet which was to endure into the twentieth century.

Baroque musicians served patrons, whether nobles, state or church. 
It was not until well into the eighteenth century that some musicians, like their twentieth century counterparts, began to work without patronage as independent professionals, 
earning a living from teaching, composing and performing.

Ciaccona di Alessandro Piccinini (1566 - 1638)
contenuta in Alessandro Piccinini "Works for theorbo" (2005)
 nell'esecuzione di Fred Jacobs alla tiorba.

Dipinti del pittore italiano Giuseppe Arcimboldo o Arcimboldi (1526 -- 1593).

Fred Jakobs - portrait    here


As does all great art, Baroque music speaks to something that transcends time and place, 
but it also derives much from the social and cultural context of the world for which it was written. 
The emerging financial, commercial and professional classes created their own musical experience 
 in the home and at church, and artistic schools flourished portraying their everyday life.

This was also an era of absolute monarchy, where the entire government of a country 
could be the personal property of an individual. 
The monarch of the most powerful state then on the European continent was Louis XIV of France.

  by Hyacinthe Rigaud (1701)

Louis XIV (5 September 1638 – 1 September 1715), known as the Sun King 
was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre. 
He holds the distinction of being the longest-reigning king in European history, 
reigning for 72 years and 110 days.

He tersely explained his absolute monarchy with the aphorism, L'…tat, c'est moi--"I am the state"--
which he had demonstrated by centralizing the political and artistic life of his nation 
at his grandiose court in Versailles.


There, the unified conception of buildings, 
gardens and interiors served as a daily reminder of his absolute power. 
Lavish musical and theatrical spectacles were staged to charm and disarm his aristocratic courtiers 
and to dazzle and subdue his foreign visitors. 
Musicians at Versailles, and at the other courts of Europe, were merely a few of the myriad craftsmen 
whose purpose was to enhance the glory and power of the sovereign.

File:Lana Ritratto di Girolamo Valeriani.jpg
Ludovico Lana, Ritratto del liutista Girolamo Valeriani, ol/tl, Coll. privata
 circa 1630

File:'Portrait of several musicians and artists' by François Puget 1688 - Brunel 1980 p31.jpg
"Portrait of several musicians and artists" by François Puget (1651-1707)
Traditionally the two main figures have been identified as the composer  
Jean-Baptiste Lully and the librettist Philippe Quinault
Credit: Musée du Louvre. Photo: Hubert Josse.

The Baroque composer thought of himself as a craftsman rather than as an artist. 
Unlike later European art music, a great deal of Baroque music was written on demand for specific occasions, and musical scores were often treated with the care we would accord to yesterday's newspaper. 
Despite this disregard for posterity by many Baroque musicians, 
we are still the fortunate inheritors of an enormous and magnificent body of work.

read all   here


Music at the French court at Versailles flourished during the time of Louis XIV.
The positions for musicians set up under the Sun King continued well into the eighteenth century. 
There were over 150 official musicians at the court. 
Music as an institution on a grand scale at Versailles was thus set in place.

Robert de Visée (?1650-?1732)~Suite in D major
Pascal Monteilhet~Therbo
Theorbo by Mathias Durvive, 1978, after Matteo Sellas, Venice 1638

From "Suites for theorbo-Bach-de Visée/Pascal Monteilhet" (Virgin 2000)

Robert de Visée (ca. 1655 – 1732/33)
was a prominent lutenist, guitarist, theorbist and viol player at the court of Louis XIV,
as well as a singer, and composer for lute, theorbo and guitar.
His solo repertoire for theorbo and baroque guitar
has survived as some of the greatest pieces for the instruments.

 Biography     here

Painting from 1667 depicting Louis as patron of the fine arts.

In the French court of King Louis XIV,
music is used to portray the king as a brilliant god-like figure of absolute importance to the state.
The king used art as a tool for political gain with the help of his ministers and court composers.

File:Louis XIV as Child.jpg
Charles Poerson
Portrait of Louis XIV (1638-1715) as Jupiter Conquering the Fronde 1648-1667


The king liked to dance

The powerful literary tradition in France often hides the fact that Louis XIV was a music-loving king.

When Louis XIV was four years old, his father passed away, leaving him to reign as King of France.
Jules Mazarin, the Italian-born chief minister guided Louis XIV’s interest to the arts of dance
and music in the young king’s formative years.
Cardinal Mazarin encouraged the prominent role of music in courtly life.
Mazarin brought the Italian opera and wanted to see it spread to France.
The salons and galleries of Versailles, as well as the private apartments of the king and queen were used for music and theatre. Couperin wrote his Concerts royaux for Louis XIV's bed chambers. Under all the grandeur of Versailles was a monarch who as a boy had been tutored by the brilliant Cardinal Mazarin, and learned music and dance. Well into his thirties he danced in the court opéra-ballet productions. Moreover, Louis had every reason to dance. Coffee, tobacco (and soon sugar), coupled with the West African slave trade to the Americas were beginning to prove highly lucrative. Louis spared no expense: his court technical team and stage managers—known as "Les Menus Plaisirs"—were capable of astonishing productions. Ironically, the offices of the court techies in the nearby Hôtel des Menus Plaisirs would later serve as the meeting hall of the first "Assemblée Nationale" in 1789!

Louis and his family portrayed as Roman gods in a 1670 painting by Jean Nocret.
Left to Right: Louis's aunt, Henriette-Marie; his brother, Philippe, duc d'Orléans;
the Duke's daughter, Marie Louise d'Orléans, and wife, Henriette-Anne Stuart;
the Queen-mother, Anne of Austria; three daughters of Gaston d'Orléans;
Louis XIV; the Dauphin Louis; Queen Marie-Thérèse; la Grande Mademoiselle.


Versailles - photo credit  Eric Pouhier

5. Music in Versailles
The major influence of France in the Baroque age was one of courtly opulence. In 1669 Louis XIV decided to convert an old hunting lodge at Versailles into a palace of unprecedented magnificence and the court moved there in 1683. There was not a European court could match Versailles for the opulence of its luxury interiors, chandeliers, mirrors, or flamboyance court ceremony.
In fact, Louis and his country were overburdened by the debts which the costly Versailles imposed on them. Then, during the later years of the 1600s, France suffered famines and disastrous military defeats. Versailles started to lose the splendor and ended as the king died in 1715. In contrast, this was a rebirth of non-Lullyan music in Paris – musical freedom was reborn in Paris, with a boom in sheet-music printing and music lesson.

Music was used by Louis XIV as a “pliable political tool; rarely in history have the relations between politics and music lain more openly on the surface than during the French absolutism.”.The court atmosphere of Louis XIV could make every noble guests emulating for their own glory and used music as a form of propaganda for the political power.

Venetian lute music....

Louis desired that the music would be a reflection of his absolute rule and the throne. He made sure that his own agenda was promoted through the music of the day. Likewise, Lully as a court musician also used his position to promote his own objectives that allowed him to exert his personal musical style in France.
Some literatures in France often hide the fact that Louis XIV was a music-loving king. But actually the fact is the salons and galleries of Versailles (as well as the private apartments of the king) were used for music and theatre. The music that came from the French court of this time would not have been possible withoutthe contributions Louis XIV made to support and further French music.....

 info source       here
'Le Roi dansant le menuet'


Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643~1704)
- Te Deum en ré majeur, H 146 -

Choeur des Musiciens du Louvre
Les Musiciens du Louvre

Best wishes for a joyful and sunny Sunday
et Bonne Semaine!

Biography Elaine Thornburgh:
Elaine Thornburgh has received critical acclaim for her performances 
throughout the United States as a soloist and chamber musician. 
A semi-finalist in the Sixth International Harpsichord Competition 
in Bruges, Belgium in 1980, Miss Thornburgh also received 
a National Endowment of the Arts Solo Recitalist Grant in 1984 
and has been a California Arts Council Touring Artist since 1985.....
read more   here


  1. I have been fascinated by your posts on the Baroque Music Festival. How does one obtain tickets? Fascinating!

  2. Dear Karen, another well researched and highly informative post, thank you! Also looks like you have a lot of summer left in your garden....beautiful. N.xo