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Classical Composers A-Z: Jean Philippe Rameau

Peter Wintersgill introduces us to Jean Philippe Rameau who composed more than 20 operas.

Born
25th September, 1683, in Dijon.

Father
Jean, organist.

Mother
Claudine, notary's daughter.

Adult Life
Followed in father's footsteps as organist in various churches, e.g. Avignon, Clermont in Paris, Dijon, Lyons and Clermont again. Stayed there seven years, working on a treatise on harmony and teaching the harpsichord. He later wrote three books of harpsichord pieces, more than fifty pieces altogether.

His main claim to fame was as an opera composer. His first Hippolyte et Aricie ( 1733) was a flop. He followed Lully, but with improved orchestration. When he came under
the patronage of financier Poupoliniere, he could be said to have arrived.

He wrote another 20 operas in the next 30 years, e.g. Les Indes Galante (1735), Castor et Pollux (1737) and Les Fetes d' Hebe (1739). He also wrote six pieces de Clavecin en concert. A late appointment was that of Composer to the King in 1745.

He died in Paris 12th September, 1764, aged 81.

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