Charpentier, Marc Antoine

1636 - 1704

French composer who studied in Italy. After his return to France he became the most outstanding French composer of oratorios.

In 1672 Charpentier was engaged by Moliere's theatre company to write music for the play "Le Mariage force". In the 1680s he was appointed Master of Music at the church of St. Louis in Paris.

Almost all of what remains of Charpentier's religious music comes from this period. It includes not only his famous "Te Deum", but also the beautiful "Christmas Midnight Mass" and the "Assumpta est Maria Mass".

For nearly three centuries, Charpentier was all but forgotten in favour of his contemporary, Jean-Baptiste Lully. But many believe Charpentier to be the greater of the two, displaying in his work impressive breadth of range - from the pomp of the court to the intimacy of the private chapel.

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Couperin, Francois

1668 - 1733

Part of a famous French musicians family Francois Couperin is known for his extraordinary varied harpsicord music.

In 1717 he became court organist and composer in Paris. He introduced Corelli's trio sonata form to France. Couperin's grand trio sonata was subtitled "Le Parnasse", (Parnassus, or the Apotheosis of Corelli)

Couperin's four volumes of harpsichord music contain over 230 individual pieces, which can be played on solo harpsichord or performed as small chamber works.

These were loved by J.S. Bach and, much later, Richard Strauss, as well as Maurice Ravel who memorialized their composer with " Le Tombeau de Couperin" .

Brahms's piano music was also influenced by the keyboard music of Couperin. Brahms performed Couperin's music in public and contributed to the first complete edition of Couperin's "Pieces de clavecin".

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