- Jean-Philippe Rameau
Jean-Philippe Rameau (pronounced|ʒɑ̃filip ʀaˈmo in French) (September 25, 1683 – September 12, 1764) was one of the most important French
composers and music theorists of the Baroque era. He replaced Jean-Baptiste Lullyas the dominant composer of French operaand is also considered the leading French author of music for the harpsichord of his time, alongside François Couperin.
Little is known about Rameau's early years, and it was not until the 1720s that he won fame as a major theorist of music with his "Treatise on Harmony" (1722). He was almost 50 before he embarked on the operatic career, on which his reputation chiefly rests. His debut, "
Hippolyte et Aricie" (1733), caused a great stir and was fiercely attacked for its revolutionary use of harmony by the supporters of Lully's style of music. Nevertheless, Rameau's pre-eminence in the field of French opera was soon acknowledged, and he was later attacked as an "establishment" composer by those who favoured Italian opera during the controversy known as the Querelle des Bouffonsin the 1750s. Rameau's music had gone out of fashion by the end of the 18th century, and it was not until the 20th that serious efforts were made to revive it. Today, he enjoys renewed appreciation with performances and recordings of his music ever more frequent.
The details of Rameau's life are generally obscure, especially concerning his first forty years, before he moved to Paris for good. He was a secretive man, and even his wife knew nothing of his early life, [Beaussant p.21] which explains the scarcity of biographical information available.
Early years, 1683–1732
Rameau's early years are particularly obscure. He was born on September 25, 1683 and baptised the same day. [Date of birth given by Chabanon in his "Éloge de M. Rameau"(1764)] His father, Jean, worked as an organist in several churches around
Dijon, and his mother, Claudine Demartinécourt, was the daughter of a notary. The couple had eleven children (five girls and six boys), of which Jean-Philippe was the seventh. Rameau was taught music before he could read or write. He was educated at the Jesuitcollege at Godrans, but he was not a good pupil and disrupted classes with his singing, later claiming that his passion for opera had begun at the age of twelve. ["New Grove" p.207-208] Initially intended for the law, Rameau decided he wanted to be a musician, and his father sent him to Italy, where he stayed for a short while in Milan. On his return, he worked as a violinist in travelling companies and then as an organist in provincial cathedrals before moving to Parisfor the first time. [Girdlestone p.3] Here, in 1706, he published his earliest known compositions: the harpsichordworks that make up his first book of "Pièces de clavecin", which show the influence of his friend Louis Marchand. [ Norbert Dufourcq, Le clavecin, p. 87] In 1709, he moved back to Dijon to take over his father's job as organist in the main church. The contract was for six years, but Rameau left before then and took up similar posts in Lyonand Clermont. During this period, he composed motets for church performance as well as secular cantatas. In 1722, he returned to Paris for good, and here he published his most important work of music theory, "Traité de l'harmonie" ("Treatise on Harmony"). This soon won him a great reputation, and it was followed in 1726 by his "Nouveau système de musique théorique". [Girdlestone p.7] In 1724 and 1729 (or 1730), he also published two more collections of harpsichord pieces. ["New Grove"] Rameau took his first tentative steps into composing stage music when writer Alexis Pironasked him to provide songs for his popular comic plays written for the Paris Fairs. Four collaborations followed, beginning with "L'Endriague" in 1723; none of the music has survived. ["New Grove" p. 215] On February 25, 1726, Rameau married 19-year-old Marie-Louise Mangot, who came from a musical family from Lyon and was a good singer and instrumentalist. The couple would have four children, two boys and two girls, and the marriage is said to have been a happy one. [Girdlestone p.8] In spite of his fame as a music theorist, Rameau had trouble finding a post as an organist in Paris. ["New Grove" p.217]
Later years, 1733–1764
It was not until he was approaching 50 that Rameau decided to embark on the operatic career on which his fame as a composer mainly rests. He had already approached writer Houdar de la Motte for a libretto in 1727, but nothing came of it; he was finally inspired to try his hand at the prestigious genre of "
tragédie en musique" after seeing Montéclair's "Jephté" in 1732. Rameau's " Hippolyte et Aricie" premiered at the Académie Royale de Musique on October 1, 1733. It was immediately recognised as the most significant opera to appear in France since the death of Lully, but audiences were split over whether this was a good thing or a bad thing. Some, such as the composer André Campra, were stunned by its originality and wealth of invention; others found its harmonic innovations discordant and saw the work as an attack on the French musical tradition. The two camps, the so-called Lullyistes and the Rameauneurs, fought a pamphlet war over the issue for the rest of the decade. ["New Grove" p. 219]
Just before this time, Rameau had made the acquaintance of powerful financier
Alexandre Le Riche de La Poupelinière, who became his patron until 1753. La Pouplinière's mistress (and later, wife), Thérèse des Hayes, was Rameau's pupil and a great admirer of his music. In 1731, Rameau became the conductor of La Pouplinière's private orchestra, which was of an extremely high quality. He held the post for 22 years; he was succeeded by Johann Stamitzand then Gossec. [Girdlestone, p.475] La Pouplinière's salon enabled Rameau to meet some of the leading cultural figures of the day, including Voltaire, who soon began collaborating with the composer. ["New Grove" pp.221-223] Their first project, the "tragédie en musique Samson", was abandoned because an opera on a religious theme by Voltaire—a notorious critic of the Church—was likely to be banned by the authorities. ["New Grove" pp.220] Meanwhile, Rameau had introduced his new musical style into the lighter genre of the " opéra-ballet" with the highly successful " Les Indes galantes". It was followed by two "tragédies en musique", " Castor et Pollux" (1737) and "Dardanus" (1739), and another "opéra-ballet, Les fêtes d'Hébé" (also 1739). All these operas of the 1730s are among Rameau's most highly regarded works. ["New Grove" p.256] However, the composer followed them with six years of silence, in which the only work he produced was a new version of "Dardanus" (1744). The reason for this interval in the composer's creative life is unknown, although it is possible he had a falling-out with the authorities at the Académie royale de la musique. [Beaussant p.18]
The year 1745 was a watershed in Rameau's career. He received several commissions from the court for works to celebrate the French victory at the
Battle of Fontenoyand the marriage of the Dauphin to a Spanish princess. Rameau produced his most important comic opera, " Platée", as well as two collaborations with Voltaire: the "opéra-ballet Le temple de la gloire" and the "comédie-ballet La Princesse de Navarre". ["New Grove" pp.228-230] They gained Rameau official recognition; he was granted the title "Compositeur du Cabinet du Roi" and given a substantial pension. [Girdlestone p.483] 1745 also saw the beginning of the bitter enmity between Rameau and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Though best known today as a thinker, Rousseau had ambitions to be a composer. He had written an opera, "Les muses galantes" (inspired by Rameau's "Indes galantes"), but Rameau was unimpressed by this musical tribute. At the end of 1745, Voltaire and Rameau, who were busy on other works, commissioned Rousseau to turn "La Princesse de Navarre" into a new opera, with linking recitativecalled " Les fêtes de Ramire". Rousseau then claimed the two had stolen the credit for the words and music he had contributed, though musicologists have been able to identify almost nothing of the piece as Rousseau's work. Nevertheless, the embittered Rousseau nursed a grudge against Rameau for the rest of his life. ["New Grove" p.232]
Rousseau was a major participant in the second great quarrel that erupted over Rameau's work, the so-called "
Querelle des Bouffons" of 1752–54, which pitted French "tragédie en musique" against Italian " opera buffa". This time, Rameau was accused of being out of date and his music too complicated in comparison with the simplicity and "naturalness" of a work like Pergolesi's " La serva padrona". [Viking p.830] In the mid-1750s, Rameau criticised Rousseau's contributions to the musical articles in the "Encyclopédie", which led to a quarrel with the leading " philosophes" d'Alembertand Diderot. ["New Grove" pp.236-8] As a result, Rameau became a character in Diderot's then-unpublished dialogue, "Le neveu de Rameau" ("Rameau's Nephew").
In 1753, La Pouplinière took a scheming musician, Jeanne-Thérèse Goermans, as his mistress. The daughter of harpsichord maker
Jacques Goermans, she went by the name of Madame de Saint-Aubin, and her opportunistic husband pushed her into the arms of the rich financier. She had La Pouplinière engage the services of the Bohemian composer Stamitz, which led to a breach between Rameau and his patron; however, by then, Rameau no longer needed La Pouplinière's financial support and protection.
Rameau pursued his activities as a theorist and composer until his death. He lived with his wife and two of his children in his large suite of rooms in Rue des Bons-Enfants, which he would leave every day, lost in thought, to take a solitary walk in the nearby gardens of the Palais-Royal or the Tuileries. Sometimes he would meet the young writer Chabanon, who noted some of Rameau's disillusioned confidential remarks: "Day by day, I'm acquiring more good taste, but I no longer have any genius" and "The imagination is worn out in my old head; it's not wise at this age wanting to practise arts that are nothing but imagination." [Quoted in Beaussant p.19]
Rameau composed prolifically in the late 1740s and early 1750s. After that, his rate of productivity dropped off, probably due to old age and ill health, although he was still able to write another comic opera, "
Les Paladins", in 1760. This was due to be followed by a final "tragédie en musique, Les Boréades"; but for unknown reasons, the opera was never produced and had to wait until the late 20th century for a proper staging. [Viking p.846] Rameau died on September 12, 1764 after suffering from a fever. He was buried in the church of St. Eustache, Paris the following day. ["New Grove" p.240]
While the details of his biography are vague and fragmentary, the details of Rameau's personal and family life are almost completely obscure. Rameau's music, so graceful and attractive, completely contradicts the man's public image and what we know of his character as described (or perhaps unfairly caricatured) by Diderot in "Le neveu de Rameau". Throughout his life, music was his consuming passion. It occupied his entire thinking; Philippe Beaussant calls him a monomaniac. Piron explained that "His heart and soul were in his harpsichord; once he had shut its lid, there was no one home." [Malignon p.16] Physically, Rameau was tall and exceptionally thin, [Girdlestone p.513] as can be seen by the sketches we have of him, including a famous portrait by Carmontelle. He had a "loud voice." His speech was difficult to understand, just like his handwriting, which was never fluent. As a man, he was secretive, solitary, irritable, proud of his own achievements (more as a theorist than as a composer), brusque with those who contradicted him, and quick to anger. It is difficult to imagine him among the leading wits, including Voltaire (to whom he bears more than a passing physical resemblance), who frequented La Pouplinière's salon; his music was his best passport, and it made up for his lack of social graces.
His enemies exaggerated his faults; e.g., his supposed miserliness. In fact, it seems that his thriftiness was the result of long years spent in obscurity (when his income was uncertain and scanty) rather than part of his character, because he could also be generous. We know that he helped his nephew Jean-François when he came to Paris and also helped establish the career of
Claude-Bénigne Balbastrein the capital. Furthermore, he gave his daughter Marie-Louise a considerable dowry when she became a Visitandine nun in 1750, and he paid a pension to one of his sisters when she became ill. Financial security came late to him, following the success of his stage works and the grant of a royal pension (a few months before his death, he was also ennobled and made a knight of the Ordre de Saint-Michel). But he did not change his way of life, keeping his worn-out clothes, his single pair of shoes, and his old furniture. After his death, it was discovered that he only possessed one dilapidated single-keyboard harpsichord [Compare the inventories of François Couperin (one large harpsichord, three spinets and a portable organ) and Louis Marchand (three harpsichords and three spinets) after their deaths.] in his rooms in Rue des Bons-Enfants, yet he also had a bag containing 1691 gold Louis. [Girdlestone p.508]
General character of Rameau's music
Rameau's music is characterised by the exceptional technical knowledge of a composer who wanted above all to be renowned as a theorist of the art. Nevertheless, it is not solely addressed to the intelligence, and Rameau himself claimed, "I try to conceal art with art." The paradox of this music was that it was new, using techniques never known before, but it took place within the framework of old-fashioned forms. Rameau appeared revolutionary to the Lullyistes, disturbed by the complex harmony of his music; and reactionary to the "philosophes," who only paid attention to its content and who either would not or could not listen to the sound it made. The incomprehension he received from his contemporaries stopped Rameau from repeating such daring experiments as the second Trio des Parques in "Hippolyte et Aricie", which he was forced to remove after a handful of performances because the singers were unable to interpret it correctly. So the greatest harmonist of his era went unrecognised at the very time that harmony—the "vertical" aspect of music—was taking precedence over
counterpoint, which represented its "horizontal" aspect.
Rameau's musical works
Rameau's musical works may be divided into four distinct groups, [Apart from the pieces written for the Paris fairs, which haven't survived] which differ greatly in importance: a few
cantatas; a few motets for large chorus; some pieces for solo harpsichord or harpsichord accompanied by other instruments; and, finally, his works for the stage, to which he dedicated the last thirty years of his career almost exclusively. Like most of his contemporaries, Rameau often reused melodies that had been particularly successful, but never without meticulously adapting them; they are not simple transcriptions. Besides, no borrowings have been found from other composers, although his earliest works show the influence of other music. Rameau's reworkings of his own material are numerous; e.g., in "Les Fêtes d'Hébé", we find "L'Entretien des Muses", the Musette, and the Tambourin, taken from the 1724 book of harpsichord pieces, as well as an aria from the cantata "Le Berger Fidèle". [Beaussant pp.340-43]
For 40 years, Rameau was a professional organist in the service of religious institutions, and yet the body of sacred music he composed is exceptionally small and his organ works nonexistent. Judging by the evidence, it was not his favourite field, but rather, simply a way of making reasonable money. Rameau's few religious compositions are nevertheless remarkable and compare favourably to the works of specialists in the area. Only four
motets have been attributed to Rameau with any certainty: "Deus noster refugium", "In convertendo", "Quam dilecta", and "Laboravi".
cantatawas a highly successful genre in the early 18th century. The French cantata, which should not be confused with the Italian or the German cantata, was "invented" in 1706 by poet Jean-Baptiste Rousseauand soon taken up by many famous composers of the day, such as Montéclair, Campra, and Clérambault. Cantatas were Rameau's first contact with dramatic music. The modest forces the cantata required meant it was a genre within the reach of a composer who was still unknown. Musicologists can only guess at the dates of Rameau's six surviving cantatas, and the names of the librettists are unknown.
Along with François Couperin, Rameau is one of the two masters of the French school of harpsichord music in the 18th century. Both composers made a decisive break with the style of the first generation of harpsichordists, who confined their compositions to the relatively fixed mould of the classical suite. This reached its apogee in the first decade of the 18th century with successive collections of pieces by Louis Marchand,
Gaspard Le Roux, Louis-Nicolas Clérambault, Jean-François Dandrieu, Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Charles Dieupart, and Nicolas Siret.
But Rameau and Couperin have very different styles anyway, and Rameau cannot be considered the follower of the older composer. They seem not to have known one another (Couperin was one of the official court musicians while Rameau was still an unknown; fame would only come to him after Couperin's death). Besides, Rameau published his first book of harpsichord pieces in 1706 while Couperin (who was fifteen years his senior) waited until 1713 before publishing his first "ordres." Rameau's music includes pieces in the pure tradition of the French suite: imitative ("Le rappel des oiseaux," "La poule") and character ("Les tendres plaintes," "L'entretien des Muses") pieces and works of pure virtuosity that resemble Scarlatti ("Les tourbillons," "Les trois mains") as well as pieces that reveal the experiments of a theorist and musical innovator ("L'Enharmonique", "Les Cyclopes"), which had a marked influence on
Daquin, Royer, and Jacques Duphly. The suites are grouped in the traditional way, by key.
Rameau's three collections appeared in 1706, 1724 and 1726 or 1727, respectively. After this, he only composed a single piece for the harpsichord: "La Dauphine" (1747). Other works, such as "Les petits marteaux," have been doubtfully attributed to him.
During his semiretirement in the years 1740 to 1744, he wrote the "
Pièces de clavecin en concert" (1741). Adopting a formula successfully employed by Mondonvillea few years earlier, these pieces differ from trio sonatas in that the harpsichord is not simply there as basso continuoto accompany other instruments (the violin, flute or viol) playing the melody but has an equal part in the "concert" with them. Rameau also claimed that the pieces would be equally satisfying as solo harpsichord works—although this statement is far from convincing, since the composer took the trouble to transcribe five of them himself, those where the lack of other instruments would show the least.
From 1733, Rameau dedicated himself almost exclusively to opera; what came before was nothing but a long preparation for his stage music. Armed with theoretical and aesthetic principles from which nothing could deflect him, he composed little else but a form of opera that in many ways prefigures the drama of
Richard Wagner. On a strictly musical level, 18th-century French Baroque opera is richer and more varied than contemporary Italian opera, especially in the place given to choruses and dances but also in the musical continuity that arises from the respective relationships between the arias and the recitatives. Another essential difference: whereas Italian opera gave a starring role to female sopranos and castrati, French opera had no use for the latter. The Italian opera of Rameau's day ( opera seria) was essentially divided into musical sections ( da capoarias, duets, trios, etc.) and sections that were spoken or almost spoken ("recitativo secco"). It was during the latter that the action progressed while the audience waited for the next aria; on the other hand, the text of the arias was almost entirely buried beneath music whose chief aim was to show off the virtuosity of the singer. Nothing of the kind is to be found in French opera of the day; since Lully, the text had to remain comprehensible—limiting certain techniques such as the vocalise, which was reserved for special words such as "gloire" ("glory") or "victoire" ("victory"). In this sense, French opera from Lully to Rameau is closer to the ideal of Monteverdi, in that the music should serve the text—a paradox when we compare Rameau's musical expertise and the poor literary quality of the libretti he set. A subtle equilibrium existed between the more- and the less-musical parts, melodic recitative on the one hand and arias that were often closer to ariosoon the other, alongside virtuoso "ariettes" in the Italian style. This form of continuous music prefigures Wagnerian drama even more than it does the "reform" opera of Gluck.
Five essential components may be discerned in Rameau's operatic scores:
*Pieces of "pure" music (overtures, ritornelli, music which closes scenes). Unlike the highly stereotyped Lullian overture, Rameau's overtures show an extraordinary variety. Even in his earliest works, where he uses the standard French model, Rameau—the born symphonist and master of orchestration—composes novel and unique pieces. A few pieces are particularly striking, such as the overture to "Zaïs", depicting the chaos before the creation of the universe or that of "Pigmalion", suggesting the sculptor's chipping away at the statue with his mallet, or the imposing final
chaconnes of "Les Indes galantes" or "Dardanus".
*Dance music: the danced interludes, which were obligatory even in tragédie en musique, allowed Rameau to give free rein to his inimitable sense of rhythm, melody, and choreography, acknowledged by all his contemporaries, including the dancers themselves. [According to the ballet master Gardel: "He divined what the dancers themselves did not know. We look upon him rightly as our first master." Quoted by Girdlestone, p.563.] This "learned" composer, forever preoccupied by his next theoretical work, paradoxically strung together
gavottes, minuets, loures, rigaudons, passepieds, tambourins, and musettes by the dozen. According to his biographer, Cuthbert Girdlestone, "The immense superiority of all that pertains to Rameau in choreography still needs emphasizing," and German scholar H.W. von Walthershausen affirmed:cquote|Rameau was the greatest ballet composer of all times. The genius of his creation rests on one hand on his perfect artistic permeation by folk-dance types, on the other hand on the constant preservation of living contact with the practical requirements of the ballet stage, which prevented an estrangement between the expression of the body from the spirit of absolute music. [Girdlestone p.563]
Padre Martini, the erudite musicologist who corresponded with Rameau, affirmed that "the French are excellent at choruses," obviously thinking of Rameau himself. A great master of harmony, Rameau knew how to compose sumptuous choruses—whether monodic, polyphonic, or interspersed with passages for solo singers or the orchestra—and whatever feelings needed to be expressed.
*Arias: less frequent than in Italian opera, Rameau nevertheless offers many striking examples. Particularly admired arias include Télaïre's "Tristes apprêts," from "Castor et Pollux"; "Ô jour affreux" and "Lieux funestes," from "Dardanus"; Huascar's invocations in "Les Indes galantes"; and the final ariette in "Pigmalion".
*Recitative: much closer to arioso than to "recitativo secco". The composer took scrupulous care to observe French prosody and used his harmonic knowledge to give expression to his protagonists' feelings.During the first part of his operatic career (1733–39), Rameau wrote his great masterpieces destined for the Académie royale de musique: three tragédies en musique and two opéra-ballets that still form the core of his repertoire. After the interval of 1740 to 1744, he became the official court musician, and for the most part, composed pieces intended to entertain, with plenty of dance music emphasising sensuality and an idealised
pastoralatmosphere. In his last years, Rameau returned to a renewed version of his early style in "Les Paladins" and "Les Boréades".
Rameau and his librettists
Unlike Lully, who collaborated with
Philippe Quinaulton almost all his operas, Rameau rarely worked with the same librettist twice. He was highly demanding and bad-tempered, unable to maintain longstanding partnerships with his librettists (with the exception of Louis de Cahusac).
Many Rameau specialists have regretted that the collaboration with Houdar de la Motte never took place and that the "Samson" project with Voltaire came to nothing—because the librettists Rameau did work with were second-rate. He made the acquaintance of most of them at La Pouplinière's salon, at the Société du Caveau, or at the house of the Comte de Livry, all meeting places for leading cultural figures of the day.
Not one of his librettists managed to produce a libretto on the same artistic level as Rameau's music (the plots were often overly complex or unconvincing), but this was standard for the genre and is probably part of its charm. The versification, too, was mediocre, and Rameau often had to have the libretto modified and rewrite the music after the premiere because of the ensuing criticism. This is why we have two versions of "Castor et Pollux" (1737 and 1752) and three of "Dardanus" (1739, 1744, and 1760).
Reputation and influence
By the end of his life, Rameau's music had come under attack in France from theorists who favoured Italian models. However, foreign composers working in the Italian tradition were increasingly looking towards Rameau as a way of reforming their own leading operatic genre, "
opera seria". Tommaso Traettaproduced two operas setting translations of Rameau libretti that show the French composer's influence, "Ippolito ed Aricia" (1759) and "I Tintaridi" (based on "Castor et Pollux", 1760). [Viking pp.1110-11] Traetta had been advised by Count Francesco Algarotti, a leading proponent of reform according to French models; Algarotti was a major influence on the most important "reformist" composer, Christoph Willibald von Gluck. Gluck's three Italian reform operas of the 1760s—" Orfeo ed Euridice", "Alceste", and " Paride ed Elena"—reveal a knowledge of Rameau's works. For instance, both "Orfeo" and the 1737 version of "Castor et Pollux" open with the funeral of one of the leading characters who later comes back to life. [Girdlestone pp.201-2] Many of the operatic reforms advocated in the preface to Gluck's "Alceste" were already present in Rameau's works. Rameau had used accompanied recitatives, and the overtures in his later operas reflected the action to come, [Girdlestone p.554] so when Gluck arrived in Paris in 1774 to produce a series of six French operas, he could be seen as continuing in the tradition of Rameau. Nevertheless, while Gluck's popularity survived the French Revolution, Rameau's did not. By the end of the 18th century, his operas had vanished from the repertoire. ["New Grove" p.277]
For most of the 19th century, Rameau's music remained unplayed, known only by reputation.
Hector Berliozinvestigated "Castor et Pollux" and particularly admired the aria "Tristes apprêts," but "whereas the modern listener readily perceives the common ground with Berlioz' music, he himself was more conscious of the gap which separated them." [Hugh Macdonald "The Master Musicians: Berlioz" (1982) p.184] French humiliation in the Franco-Prussian Warbrought about a change in Rameau's fortunes. As Rameau biographer J. Malignon wrote, "...the German victory over France in 1870–71 was the grand occasion for digging up great heroes from the French past. Rameau, like so many others, was flung into the enemy's face to bolster our courage and our faith in the national destiny of France." [Quoted by Graham Sadler in "Vincent d'Indy and the Rameau "Oeuvres complètes": a case of forgery?", "Early Music", August 1993, p.418] In 1894, composer Vincent d'Indyfounded the Schola Cantorumto promote French national music; the society put on several revivals of works by Rameau. Among the audience was Claude Debussy, who especially cherished "Castor et Pollux", revived in 1903: "Gluck's genius was deeply rooted in Rameau's works... a detailed comparison allows us to affirm that Gluck could replace Rameau on the French stage only by assimilating the latter's beautiful works and making them his own." Camille Saint-Saëns(by editing and publishing the Pièces in 1895) and Paul Dukaswere two other important French musicians who gave practical championship to Rameau's music in their day, but interest in Rameau petered out again, and it was not until the late 20th century that a serious effort was made to revive his works. Over half of Rameau's operas have now been recorded, in particular by conductors such as John Eliot Gardiner, William Christie, and Marc Minkowski.
"Treatise on Harmony", 1722
Rameau's 1722 "Treatise on Harmony" initiated a revolution in music theory.cite book
last = Christensen
first = Thomas
title = The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory
publisher = Cambridge University Press
year = 2002
id = ISBN 0521623715 p. 54 ] Rameau posited the discovery of the "fundamental law" of all musical harmony and composition. Rameau's methodology incorporated mathematics, commentary, analysis and a didacticism that was specifically intended to illuminate the structure and principles of music composition scientifically. He attempted to derive universal harmonic principles from natural causes. ["New Grove" p.278] Previous treatises on harmony had been purely practical; Rameau added a philosophical dimension, [Girdlestone p.520] and the composer quickly rose to prominence in France as the "Isaac Newton of Music."cite book
last = Christensen
first = Thomas
title = The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory
publisher = Cambridge University Press
year = 2002
id = ISBN 0521623715 p. 759 ] His fame subsequently spread throughout all Europe, and his Treatise became the definitive authority on music theory, forming the foundation for instruction in western music that persists to this day.
List of works
RCT numbering refers to "Rameau Catalogue Thématique" established by Sylvie Bouissou and Denis Herlin. [Bouissou,S. and Herlin, D., "Jean-Philippe Rameau : Catalogue thématique des œuvres musicales (T. 1, Musique instrumentale. Musique vocale religieuse et profane)", CNRS Édition et Éditions de la BnF, Paris 2007]
*"Pièces de clavecin. Trois livres. "Pieces for harpsichord", 3 books, published 1706, 1724, 1726/27(?). Audio|RAMEAU Tambourin.mid|Tambourin
**RCT 1 - "Premier Livre de Clavecin" (1706)
**RCT 2 - "Pièces de clavecin" (1724) - Suite in E minor
**RCT 3 - "Pièces de clavecin" (1724) - Suite in D major
**RCT 4 - "Pièces de clavecin" (1724) - Menuet in C major
**RCT 5 - "Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin" (1726/27) - Suite in A minor
**RCT 6 - "Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin" (1726/27) - Suite in G minor
Pieces de Clavecin en Concerts" Five albums of character pieces for harpsichord, violin and viol. (1741)
**RCT 7 - Concert I in C minor
**RCT 8 - Concert II in G major
**RCT 9 - Concert III in A major
**RCT 10 - Concert IV in B flat major
**RCT 11 - Concert V in D minor
* RCT 12 - "La Dauphine" for harpsichord. (1747)
* RCT 12bis - "Les petits marteaux" for harpsichord.
* Several orchestral dance suites extracted from his operas.
* RCT 13 - "Deus noster refugium" (c.1713-1715)
* RCT 14 - "In convertendo" (probably before 1720)
* RCT 15 - "Quam dilecta" (c. 1713-1715)
* RCT 16 - "Laboravi" (published in the "Traité de l'harmonie", 1722)
* RCT 17 - "Ah! loin de rire, pleurons" (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) (pub. 1722)
* RCT 18 - "Avec du vin, endormons-nous" (2 sopranos, Tenor) (1719)
* RCT 18bis - "L'épouse entre deux draps" (3 sopranos) (formerly attributed to
* RCT 18ter - "Je suis un fou Madame" (3 "voix égales") (1720)
* RCT 19 - "Mes chers amis, quittez vos rouges bords" (3 sopranos, 3 basses) (pub. 1780)
* RCT 20 - "Réveillez-vous, dormeur sans fin" (5 "voix égales") (pub. 1722)
* RCT 20bis - "Si tu ne prends garde à toi" (2 sopranos, bass) (1720)
* RCT 21.1 - "L'amante préoccupée" or "A l'objet que j'adore" (soprano,
* RCT 21.2 - "Lucas, pour se gausser de nous" (soprano, bass,
continuo) (pub. 1707)
* RCT 21.3 - "Non, non, le dieu qui sait aimer" (soprano,
* RCT 21.4 - "Un Bourbon ouvre sa carrière" or "Un héros ouvre sa carrière" (alto,
continuo) (1751, air belonging to Acante et Céphisebut censored before its first performance and never reintroduced in the work).
* RCT 23 - "Aquilon et Orithie " (between 1715 and 1720) [All dates from Beaussant p.83]
* RCT 28 - "Thétis" (same period)
* RCT 26 - "L’Impatience" (same period)
* RCT 22 - "Les amants trahis" (around 1720)
* RCT 27 - "Orphée" (same period)
* RCT 24 - "Le berger fidèle "(1728)
* RCT 25 - "Cantate pour le jour de la Saint Louis" (1740)
= "Opéras comiques" =
* RCT 36 - "L'endriague" (in 3 acts, 1723)
* RCT 37 - "L'enrôlement d'Arlequin" (in 1 act, 1726)
* RCT 55 - "La robe de dissension" or "Le faux prodige" (in 2 acts, 1726)
* RCT 55bis - "La Rose" or "Les jardins de l'Hymen" (in a prologue and 1 act, 1744)
Tragédies en musique"
* RCT 43 - "
Hippolyte et Aricie" (1733; revised 1742)
* RCT 32 - "
Castor et Pollux" (1737; revised 1754)
* RCT 35 - "Dardanus" (1739; revised 1744 and 1760), [http://www.library.unt.edu/music/virtual/Rameau_Dardanus/Rameau1744.pdf score]
* RCT 62 - "
Zoroastre" (1749; revised 1756, with new music for Acts II, III & V)
* RCT 31 - "
Les Boréades" or "Abaris" (unperformed; in rehearsal 1763)
* RCT 44 - "
Les Indes galantes" (1735; revised 1736)
* RCT 41 - "
Les fêtes d'Hébé" or "les Talens Lyriques" (1739)
* RCT 39 - "
Les fêtes de Polymnie" (1745)
* RCT 59 - "
Le temple de la gloire" (1745; revised 1746)
* RCT 38 - "
Les fêtes de l'Hymen et de l'Amour" or "Les Dieux d'Egypte" (1747)
* RCT 58 - "
Les surprises de l'Amour" (1748; revised 1757)
= "Pastorales héroïques" =
* RCT 60 - "
* RCT 49 - "
* RCT 29 - "
Acante et Céphise" or "La sympathie" (1751)
* RCT 34 - "
Daphnis et Eglé" (1753)
* RCT 53 - "
Platée" or "Junon jalouse" (1745), [http://www.library.unt.edu/music/assets/vrbr/Rameau.pdf score]
* RCT 51 - "
Les Paladins" or "Le Vénitien" (1760)
* RCT 54 - "
La Princesse de Navarre" (1744)
"Actes de ballet"
* RCT 33 - "Les courses de Tempé" (1734)
* RCT 40 - "
Les Fêtes de Ramire" (1745)
* RCT 50 - "
Nélée et Myrthis" (1745)
* RCT 52 - "Pigmalion" (1748)
* RCT 42 - "
La guirlande" or "Les fleurs enchantées" (1751)
* RCT 57 - "
Les sibarites" or "Sibaris" (1753)
* RCT 61 - "
* RCT 48 - "
La naissance d'Osiris" or "La Fête Pamilie" (1754)
* RCT 30 - "
* RCT 58 - "
Anacréon" (completely different work from the above, 1757, 3rd "Entrée" of " Les surprises de l'Amour")
* RCT 45 - "
Io" (unfinished, date unknown)
Lost operas by Jean-Philippe Rameau"
* RCT 56 - "Samson" ("
tragédie en musique") (partially performed in 1734)
* RCT 46 - "Linus" ("
tragédie en musique") (1752, score stolen after a rehearsal)
* RCT 47 - "Lysis et Délie" ("pastorale") (scheduled on November 6th, 1753)
* "Traité de l’harmonie réduite à ses principes naturels" (Paris, 1722)
* "Nouveau système de musique théorique" (Paris, 1726)
* "Dissertation sur les différents méthodes d'accompagnement pour le clavecin, ou pour l'orgue" (Paris, 1732)
* "Génération harmonique, ou Traité de musique théorique et pratique" (Paris, 1737)
* "Mémoire où l'on expose les fondemens du Système de musique théorique et pratique de M. Rameau" (1749)
* "Démonstration du principe de l'harmonie" (Paris, 1750)
* "Nouvelles réflexions de M. Rameau sur sa 'Démonstration du principe de l'harmonie"' (Paris, 1752)
* "Observations sur notre instinct pour la musique" (Paris, 1754)
* "Erreurs sur la musique dans l'Encyclopédie" (Paris, 1755)
* "Suite des erreurs sur la musique dans l'Encyclopédie" (Paris, 1756)
* "Reponse de M. Rameau à MM. les editeurs de l'Encyclopédie sur leur dernier Avertissement" (Paris, 1757)
* "Nouvelles réflexions sur le principe sonore" (1758-9)
* "Code de musique pratique, ou Méthodes pour apprendre la musique...avec des nouvelles réflexions sur le principe sonore" (Paris, 1760)
* "Lettre à M. Alembert sur ses opinions en musique" (Paris, 1760)
* "Origine des sciences, suivie d'un controverse sur le même sujet" (Paris, 1762)
Querelle des Bouffons
*Cuthbert Girdlestone "Jean-Philippe Rameau: His Life and Work" (Dover paperback edition, 1969)
*"The New Grove French Baroque Masters" ed. Graham Sadler (Grove/Macmillan, 1988)
*"The Viking Opera Guide" ed. Amanda Holden (Viking, 1993)
*"Rameau de A à Z" Philippe Beaussant (Fayard, 1983)
*(en) [http://bach.nau.edu/Rameau/GavotteDoubles.html Gavotte with Doubles] Hypermedia by Jeff Hall & Tim Smith at the [http://bach.nau.edu/ BinAural Collaborative Hypertext] -- Shockwave Player required
*(en) [http://jp.rameau.free.fr/jpr-map.htm jp.rameau.free.fr] Rameau - Le Site
*(fr) [http://www.musicologie.org/Biographies/rameau_jp.html musicologie.org] Biography, List of Works, bibliography, discography, theoretical writings, in French
*(en) [http://www.discographie-rameau.com Jean-Philippe Rameau / Discography]
* [http://magnatune.com/artists/albums/pinnock-rameau/ Magnatune] Les Cyclopes by Rameau in on-line mp3 format (played by
* [http://www.mutopiaproject.org/cgibin/make-table.cgi?Composer=RameauJP Rameau] free sheet music from the
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Jean-Philippe Rameau — Portrait par Joseph Aved (1702 1766) Musée des Beaux Arts de Dijon … Wikipédia en Français
Jean-philippe rameau — Jean Philippe Rameau Portrait par Joseph Aved (1702 1766) Musée des Beaux Arts de Dijon … Wikipédia en Français
Jean Philippe Rameau — Jean Philippe Rameau Portrait par Joseph Aved (1702 1766) Musée des Beaux Arts de Dijon … Wikipédia en Français
Jean-Philippe Rameau — Jean Philippe Rameau, Gemälde von Camelot Aved Jean Philippe Rameau (* getauft 25. September 1683 in Dijon; † 12. September 1764 in Paris) war ein französischer Komponist und Musiktheoretiker … Deutsch Wikipedia
Jean Philippe Rameau — (getauft 25. September 1683 in Dijon; † 12. September 1764 in Paris) war ein französischer Komponist und Musiktheoretiker. Inhaltsverzeichnis … Deutsch Wikipedia
Jean-Philippe Rameau — Jean Philippe Rameau † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Jean Philippe Rameau Musician, b. at Dijon, Burgundy, 25 Sept., 1683; d. at Paris, 12 Sept., 1764. His father, himself an organist, was his first master. At the age of seven he was able… … Catholic encyclopedia
Jean-Philippe Rameau — (Dijon, 25 de septiembre de 1683 París, 12 de septiembre de 1764) fue un compositor y teórico musical francés, muy influyente en la época barroca. Reemplazó a Lully como el compositor dominante de la ópera francesa, y fue duramente atacado por… … Enciclopedia Universal
Jean-Philippe Rameau — Jean Philippe Rameau … Wikipedia Español
Jean-Philippe Rameau — noun French composer of operas whose writings laid the foundation for the modern theory of harmony (1683 1764) • Syn: ↑Rameau • Instance Hypernyms: ↑composer … Useful english dictionary
La Guirlande (Jean-Philippe Rameau) — La Guirlande Opéras de Jean Philippe Rameau Tragédies en musique Hippolyte et Aricie (1733) Castor et Pollux (1737) Dardanus (1739) Zoroastre (1749) Les Boréades (1764) Opéras ballets … Wikipédia en Français