Jean-Baptiste Lully, originally Giovanni Battista Lulli (November 28, 1632 ? March 22, 1687), was an Italian-born French composer, who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. He took French citizenship in 1661. 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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