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17th Century France

Updated: Jun 13, 2021

Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, 1684.

Every aspect of culture in France during the 17thc. including music, was dominated by the will of King Louis XIV. Known as the 'Sun King', he was an absolute monarch, ruling without a parliament. By the end of his reign in 1715 he had nearly bankrupted France building his enormous palace at Versailles and its vast area of formal landscape gardens, and the cost of near constant wars with other European countries. The French style of 17thc. architecture (on a much reduced scale), music, art, costume, and dance were copied by Royal courts all over Europe, and many adopted the French language for use at court. Louis, being rather short, was sensitive about his height, and ordered shoes to be made for him with tall red heels, as seen this detail from a painting of Louis by Hyacinthe Rigaud c.1700:

Music The King's court composer was Italian-born Jean Baptiste Lully. He composed opera, incidental music for plays; and music for court dances including the minuet, gavotte, sarabande, chaconne, and rigaudons. In 1661, Louis appointed Lully as Director of the new Les Vingt-quatre Violons du Roi - an orchestra of 24 instruments of the violin family. Marc-Antoine Charpentier composed music for soloists, choir, organ, and orchestra for performance in the Chapel Royal at Versailles. Elizabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, one of the few women composers during the baroque period in France, composed music for keyboard, chamber music, and vocal music for the church. Lully - Idylle sur la paix,1685 - King Louis XIV dancing, from the movie 'Le Roi Danse' (2000), which depicted the relationship between Lully and the King. Lully, Marche pour la ceremonie des turcs'- music for Molière's play Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, 1670. Lully - Le bourgeois gentilhomme: Marche pour la cérémonie des turcs - Dumestre (2004) Marc-Antoine Charpentier,Te Deum - soloists, choir, and orchestra, Versailles, 1692 Elizabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Minuet, 1687 Elizabeth Claude Jacquet de la Guerre - Menuet from Suite in D Minor (1687) | Anna Kislitsyna

Landscape gardens, Versailles, late 17thc. Next Week –

17th Century Baroque Music and Culture in Germany

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