The King's Protege
Donald Macleod explains how King Louis XIV of France first noticed Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre's talents in a court performance and went on to encourage her.
As part of Radio 3's celebration of female composers marking International Women's Day, this week Donald Macleod explores with Mary Cyr, the life and music of Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre, hailed by scholars as one of the most successful women in the history of French music. Born in Paris, Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet went on to become famous as a composer and harpsichordist. Her talents were first noticed when, at the age of five, she performed and sung at the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV. He later instructed his mistress, Madame de Montespan, to take Elisabeth into her own entourage.
Jacquet de La Guerre clocked up a number of firsts during her remarkable career. She was the first woman we know of to compose pieces for harpsichord, the first woman known to have composed and published, sets of cantatas, and the first woman to have had an opera performed at the Academie Royale de Musique. She had a huge impact upon music in France, with one author rating her as second only to Lully in the ranks of Baroque French composers.
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