François Couperin (1668-1733)
Program note written by Jacob Farmer
III. Courante française
IV. Courante à l’italienne
Approximate Performance Time:
Advanced – appropriate for college undergraduates
Beauséjour, Luc, et al. Deuxième Concert en mi. François Couperin, 2013. MP3.
Lancaster, Linda Karen. “Baroque Performance Practices with Specific Reference to Ornamentation for the Flute in Works by Couperin and Telemann.” Order No. 1320200 California State University, Long Beach, 1982. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 30 Sep. 2016.
François Couperin, born in Paris in 1668, it one of the most notable and distinguished French baroque composers. At the age of eighteen, he became the organist for the Paris church of St. Gervais, succeeding his uncle (of the same name). He was appointed Royal Organist under Louis XIV in 1693. While a lot of his compositions to that date had been for organ, following the publication of Pièces d’orgue, Couperin ceased to compose for organ, but rather focused on Italian sonatas, and private concerts featuring his cantatas throughout the 1690s. Couperin’s works include music for harpsicord, chamber music, and church music.
His 1722 work Concerts Royaux exemplifies the importance of his role in instrumental ensemble compositions. Couperin wrote this set of pieces with open instrumentation up to the musicians and ensemble availability. The piece was commissioned by Louis XIV and follows the standard form of French suites. Even though both men were French, there is a clear influence of Italian practice with the use of chromaticism and symmetry. The third and fourth movements of Concerts Royaux No. 4 in E minor are both Courante’s but they contrast each other by being written in different styles, the third movement in the French style and then in the Italian style. All movements are meant to be played in succession with little or no pause in between.