Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Donald Macleod surveys Francois Couperin's musical family tree.

Donald Macleod surveys Francois Couperin's musical family tree.

Donald Macleod marks 350 years since the birth of Francois Couperin, one of France’s most dazzling musical talents. His illustrious rise to fame began with his appointment as organist at St Gervais in Paris while he was still a teenager, and he went on to serve as a composer and harpsichordist at court of the Sun King, Louis XIV. Known to his contemporaries as ‘Couperin Le Grand’, he is recognised today as the most important French composer of his generation.

In today's programme, Donald explores ‘Couperin Le Grand’ alongside his many musical relatives. The Couperin family tree was established in the vineyards around Chaumes and nurtured a long line of gifted musicians. Uncle Louis was the first of seven Couperins to serve as organist at St Gervais, including Francois himself and his cousin, Nicolas. Towards the end of his life, Francois’s daughter, Marguerite-Antoniette, took over some of her father’s harpsichord duties at the royal court. Another cousin, Armand-Louis, became a leading composer of the next generation and father to yet more musical Couperins who maintained the family trade right into the 19th century.

Francois Couperin
Regina coeli laetare, Alleluia
Jill Feldman, soprano
Isabelle Poulenard, soprano
Jaap Ter Linden, bass viol
Davitt Moroney, organ

Louis Couperin
Five Fantasies
Pange lingua en basse
Jan Willem Jansen, organ

François Couperin
Quatre versets du motet
Sophie Daneman, soprano
Patricia Petibon, soprano
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Armand-Louis Couperin
Simphonie de clavecins, in D major
Ton Koopman, harpsichord
Tini Mathot, harpsichord

Francois Couperin
Premier Livre de pieces de clavecin, premier ordre (La Manon)
Premier Livre de pieces de clavecin, premier ordre (L’Enchanteresse)
Premier Livre de pieces de clavecin, premier ordre (La Fleurie ou la tendre Nanette)
Premier Livre de pieces de clavecin, premier ordre (Les plaisirs de Saint Germain en Laye)
Olivier Baumont, harpsichord

Producer Luke Whitlock for BBC Wales

59 minutes

Music Played

  • François Couperin

    Regina coeli laetare, Alleluia

    Performer: Jaap ter Linden. Performer: Davitt Moroney. Singer: Jill Feldman. Singer: Isabelle Poulenard.
    • Harmonia Mundi HM901150.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 5.
  • Louis Couperin

    Five Fantasies for organ

    Performer: Jan-Willem Jansen.
    • Virgin VM5617752.
    • Virgin.
    • 2.
  • Louis Couperin

    Pange lingua en basse

    Performer: Jan-Willem Jansen.
    • Virgin VM5617752.
    • Virgin.
    • 7.
  • François Couperin

    Quatre versets du motet

    Singer: Sophie Daneman. Singer: Patricia Petitbon. Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants. Director: William Christie.
    • Erato 0630170672.
    • Erato.
    • 19.
  • Armand-Louis Couperin

    Simphonie de clavecins in D major

    Composer: Armand-Louis Couperin. Performer: Ton Koopman. Performer: Ton Koopman. Performer: Tini Mathot. Performer: Tini Mathot.
    • Erato 3984216572.
    • Erato.
    • 6.
  • François Couperin

    Pieces de clavecin, ordre No 1

    Performer: Olivier Baumont.
    • Erato: 0630106942.
    • Erato.
    • 15.

Broadcast

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.