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Lully, Jean-Baptiste -

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Born in Florence, either the son of a miller or a nobleman as Lully himself claimed (which if the case would render him di Lulli or de Lully), Lully had little education, musical or otherwise, but he had a natural talent to play the guitar and violin and to dance. In 1646, he was discovered by the Duke of Guise and taken to France, where he entered the services of Mademoiselle de Montpensier (la Grande Mademoiselle) as a scullery-boy. With the help of this lady his musical talents were cultivated. He studied the theory of music under Nicolas Métru. A scurrilous poem on his patroness resulted in his dismissal.



He came into Louis XIV's service in late 1652, early 1653 as a dancer. He composed some music for the Ballet de la Nuit which pleased the King immensely. He was appointed as the composer of instrumental music to the King conducted the royal string orchestra of the French court, Les Vingt-quatre Violons du Roi (Twenty-four Violins of the King) or the Grande Bande (Large band). He tired of the lack of discipline of the Grande Bande, and with the King's permission formed his own Petits Violons.



Lully composed many ballets for the King during the 1650s and 1660s, in which the King and Lully himself danced. He also had tremendous success composing the music for the comedies of Molière, including Le Mariage Forcé (1664), L'Amour Médecin (1665), and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (1670). Louis XIV's interest in ballet waned as he got older and was less able to dance well (his last performance was in 1670) and so Lully pursued opera. He bought the privilege for opera from Pierre Perrin and with the backing of Jean-Baptiste Colbert and the king, created a new privilege which essentially gave Lully complete control of all music performed in France until his death.



He was a notorious bisexual and libertine. In 1662, he did marry Madeleine Lambert, daughter of Lully's friend and fellow musician Michel Lambert, and proceeded to have ten children by her. But at the height of his career he felt confident enough to flaunt his relationship with Brunet, his page. Although his life is full of meteoric heights, his love affairs with boys and women brought him down in scandal several times to the great displeasure of Louis XIV and led to his renown as a sodomite.



Despite these scandals, he always managed to get back into the good graces of Louis XIV who found Lully essential for his musical entertainments and who thought of Lully as one of his few true friends. In 1681 Lully was appointed as a court secretary to Louis XIV and was ennobled, after which he wrote his name Jean Baptiste de Lully and was addressed as "Monsieur de Lully".



On January 8, 1687, Lully was conducting a Te Deum in honor of Louis XIV's recent recovery from illness. He was beating time by banging a long staff (a precursor to the baton) against the floor, as was the common practice at the time, when he struck his toe, creating an abscess. The wound turned gangrenous, but Lully refused to have his toe amputated and the gangrene spread, resulting in his death on the 22nd of March. He left his last opera, Achille & Polyxène, unfinished.



Lully's music is from the Middle Baroque period, 1650-1700. Typical of Baroque music is the use of the basso continuo (or simply continuo) as the driving force behind the music. French Middle Baroque is exceptional in all of classical music as having the lowest pitch, 392 Hz for A above middle C (which in modern practice is usually 440 Hz).



Lully's music is known for its power, liveliness in its fast movements and its deep emotional character in its sad movements. Some of his most popular works are his passacaille (passacaglia) and chaconne which are dance movements found in many of his works such as Armide & Renaud or Phaëton. His Miserere, written for the funeral of the minister Sequier, is considered a work of genius. Equally acclaimed are his minor sacred compositions.



The influence of Lully's music produced a radical revolution in the style of the dances of the court itself. Instead of the slow and stately movements which had prevailed until then, he introduced lively ballets of rapid rhythm. He effected important improvements in the composition of the orchestra, into which he introduced several new instruments, and Lully enjoyed the friendship of Molière, with whom he created a new music form, the comédie-ballet which combined theater, comedy, and ballet.



Lully founded French opera (tragédie en musique or tragédie lyrique), having found Italian-style opera inappropriate for the French language. Having found a congenial poet and librettist in Quinault, Lully composed many operas and other works, which met with a most enthusiastic reception. Indeed he has good claim to be considered the founder of French opera, forsaking the Italian method of separate recitative and aria for a dramatic consolidation of the two and a quickened action of the story such as was more congenial to the taste of the French public.
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Total 19 Compositions
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Flute 2+Clarinet, Difficulty: easy to medium
Notes
Series: Operas, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Violin 2+Viola 2+Vlc, Difficulty: easy to medium
Notes
Series: Operas, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Violin 2+Violoncello, Difficulty: easy
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Trumpet 3+Organ+Tmp, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Violin 3+Viola+Vlc, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Violin 3+Viola+Vlc, Difficulty: easy to medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Timpani+Trumpet 4, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Violin 3+Viola+Vlc, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Timpani+Trumpet 4, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Timpani+Trumpet 4, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Violin 3+Viola+Vlc, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Violin 3+Viola+Vlc, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Violin 3+Viola+Vlc, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Violin 3+Viola+Vlc, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Violin 3+Viola+Vlc, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Violin 3+Viola+Vlc, Difficulty: easy to medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Timpani+Trumpet 4, Difficulty: medium
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Recorder+Basso continuo, Difficulty: easy
Notes
Series: Chamber music, Theme: miscellaneous
Orchestration: Recorder+Guitar, Difficulty: easy
Total 19 Compositions