Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 - 1764) was one of the most
important French composers and music theorists of the
Baroque era. He replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as the
dominant composer of French opera and is also
considered the leading French composer for the
harpsichord of his time, alongside François
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 Bouffons in 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.
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. This
"learned" composer, forever preoccupied by his next
theoretical work, also was one who strung together
gavottes, minuets, loures, rigaudons, passepieds,
tambourins, and musettes by the dozen.
Although originally composed for period instruments
(possibly Harpsichord and Lute), I created this
arrangement for Concert (Pedal) Harp.