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Couperin at the Court of the Sun King

Francois Couperin’s time at the court of Louis XIV.

Francois Couperin’s time at the court of Louis XIV.

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.

Francois Couperin was auditioned for the job of organist to France's Chapel Royal by Louise XIV himself. The Sun King had a keen passion for music and took a great interest in his court musician. After a matter of months Couperin was also appointed as harpsichord instructor to Les Enfants de France, the sons of the King. Teaching was an integral part of Francois Couperin’s career and in 1713 he published a set of harpsichord pieces called L’Art de Toucher le Clavecin, works specifically composed for use in teaching.

King Louis would attend Mass every day, and Couperin was also responsible for composing new works to be performed in the Versailles Chapel, such as his motet Respice in me. Couperin also composed chamber music for the entertainment of the Cour, and among his work to be performed towards the end of Louis’ life, were his Concert Royaux.

Messe pour les paroisses (Agnus Dei)
Marie-Claire Alain, organ

L’Art de Toucher le Clavecin
Christopher Rousset, harpsichord

Respice in me
Paul Agnew, tenor
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, director

Concert Royaux (Premier Concert)
Robert Claire, flute
Janet See, flute
Davitt Moroney, harpsichord
Jaap ter Linden, bass viol

Pieces de violes avec la basse chifree (Deuxieme Suite)
Musica ad Rhenum

Producer Luke Whitlock for BBC Wales

59 minutes

Music Played

  • François Couperin

    Agnus dei (Messe pour les paroisses)

    Performer: Marie‐Claire Alain.
    • Erato 2292454602.
    • Erato.
    • 19.
  • François Couperin

    L'Art de toucher le clavecin

    Performer: Christophe Rousset.
    • Harmonia Mundi HMC90144749.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 1.
  • François Couperin

    Respice in me

    Singer: Paul Agnew. Ensemble: Les Arts Florissants. Director: William Christie.
    • Virgin 5457202.
    • Virgin.
    • 3.
  • François Couperin

    Premier concert (Concerts Royaux)

    Performer: Robert Claire. Performer: Janet See. Performer: Davitt Moroney. Performer: Jaap ter Linden.
    • Harmonia Mundi HMA1901151.
    • Harmonia Mundi.
    • 1.
  • François Couperin

    Suite No 2 (Pièces de violes)

    Orchestra: Musica ad Rhenum.
    • BRILLIANT : CLASSICS-92178/3.
    • BRILLIANT.
    • 11.

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