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Jean-François Le Sueur

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Biography

Jean-François Le Sueur (or Lesueur) (15 February 1760 – 6 October 1837) was a French composer, best known for his oratorios and operas.

He was born at Plessiel, a hamlet of Drucat near Abbeville, to a long-established family of Picardy, the great-nephew of the painter Eustache Le Sueur. Beginning as a chorister at the collegial church of Abbeville, then at the cathedral of Amiens, where he pursued his music studies, Le Sueur was named chorus master at the cathedral of Sées. He went to Paris to study harmony with the Abbé Nicolas Roze, chorus master at the Saints-Innocents. Le Sueur was named to positions at Dijon (1779), Le Mans (1782), then at Tours (1783) before he succeeded Roze at the Saints-Innocents at Paris. Finally in 1786, after a competition, he was made music director at Notre-Dame de Paris.
For the Feast of the Assumption, he innovated by introducing an orchestra, with great success, and his sacred concerts at the main feasts of the Church filled the cathedral to overflowing but incurred resistance in ecclesiastical circles. He replied by publishing a pamphlet Exposé d’une musique imitative et particulière à chaque solennité (1787). The cathedral chapter decided to reduce its musical budget in a time of financial crisis for France, which constrained Le Sueur to give up the important musical Masses that he specialised in, and to give up his position.
He spent some time in London, 1788-92, then returned to revolutionary Paris and gave three successful operas at the Théâtre Feydeau: La Caverne, ou le Repentir (1793), Paul et Virginie, ou le Triomphe de la vertu (1794)

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