September 25, 1683
September 12, 1764
Also Known As:
French organist, harpsichord teacher, music theorist and composer. He collaborated with Voltaire and is also known as one of the notable composers of pre-Revolutionary French opera, along with Gluck and Lully
. Rameau married Marie-Louise Mangot, a clavecinist, and they had 4 children.
Type of Compositions:
He composed keyboard music, cantatas
, church music and opera-ballets.
His father was an organist at St. Etienne in Dijon and was his earliest influence. At a young age, Jean-Philippe Rameau was already showing great musical ability. He went to a Jesuit college and would later on become an organist for a Jesuit school in Paris (1706), then at Notre Dame in Dijon (1709) and at the Clermont Cathedral in 1715. Remeau became the composer in-residence of La Riche de la Pouplimiere, a known patron of music, from 1731 to 1753.
His musical works include "Hippolyte et Aricie
," "Les Indes galantes
," "Castor et Pollux
," "La princesse de Navarre
," "Les Paladins
" and "Les Boréades
Rameau was embroiled in several controversies; the first was brought about by those who supported the works of Lully and regarded Rameau's work against French music. The second was the so called Querelle des Bouffons, a controversy between Italy's opera buffa; reflected in Pergolesi's works and the lyric tragedy of France; the latter reflecting Rameau's music.
He published three harpsichord books; the first of which was the Premier livre de pièces de clavecin published in 1706. The publication of his Traité de l'harmonie (Treatise on Harmony) in 1722 proved to be controversial.
Most of his notable works, especially his operas, were written when he was already in his 50s. As a music theorist, Rameau believed that music is based on harmony and that the tonic, dominant and subdominant chords are the building blocks of tonality. He also believed that it is from major, minor triads and 7th chords that all other chords are derived. Rameau likewise formulated the concept of fundamental bass and harmonic inversions.