1683 — 1764
Few composers before Berlioz had such a revolutionary impact on French music as Rameau. Peerless in his handling of the orchestra, he brought a whole host of innovations to the world of music, while at the same time courting the hostility of critics who preferred "naturalness" to erudition and who complained about the difficulty of his works. Acerbic bit just in his judgements (not least in his dismissal of Rousseau), he embodied the French style of the period and, as such, was seen as the antithesis of Italian music, thus helping to foment one of the Enlightment's most impassioned debates, the querelle des bouffons. A composer and theorist and organist, Rameau was born at Dijon. At the age of 18 he set out for Italy, hiring out his services as organist on the way. His Premier Livre de pièces de clavecin of 1706 is a summation of the experiences gleaned on that journey. After a series of provincial appointments, he settled in Paris in the winter of 1722/3 and published his celebrated Treatise on Harmony. Further volumes of harpsichord pieces followed. His meeting with the wealthy tax-farmer, Le Riche de la Pouplinière, proved a turning point, since with La Pouplinière's support Rameau was finally able to write for the stage of the Académie Royale de Musique. Hippolyte et Aricie (1733) was his first tragédie en musique and was followed two years later by the immensely successful opéra-ballet, Les Indes galantes. One work followed another, adding to Rameau's reputation as the leading French composer of his day. Forgotten after his death, he had to wait for Debussy's iconoclastic cry. "Down with Gluck! Long live Rameau!", before the process of rehabilitation could finally begin.
Nouveau Monde - Baroque Arias And Songs
Patricia Petibon, La Cetra Barockorchester Basel, Andrea Marcon