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Marc-Antoine Charpentier


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Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704) was a French composer of the Baroque era.

He was a prolific and versatile composer, producing music of the highest quality in several genres. His mastery in the composition of sacred vocal music was recognised and acknowledged by his contemporaries.

Charpentier was born in or near Paris, the son of a master scribe who had very good connections to influential families in the Parlement of Paris. Marc-Antoine received a very good education, perhaps with the help of the Jesuits, and registered for law school in Paris when he was eighteen.

He was in Rome, probably between 1667 and 1669, and studied with Giacomo Carissimi. There is a legend that Charpentier initially travelled to Rome to study painting before he was discovered by Carissimi. This story is undocumented and possibly untrue. Regardless, he acquired a solid knowledge of the contemporary Italian practice that he brought to France upon his return.

Most likely he worked for Marie de Lorraine, duchesse de Guise on his return to France, as her house composer, until her death in 1688. During this time he composed a considerable quantity of dramatic secular vocal works, as well as Psalm settings, hymns, a Magnificat setting, a mass, and motets, which he called stories and canticum.

Beginning around 1672, he worked with Molière, after Molière’s falling out with Jean-Baptiste Lully. During the 1680s Charpentier served as maître de musique at the Jesuits’ Paris church of St. Louis. In addition, Charpentier served as the music teacher to Philippe, Duke of Chartres. Charpentier was appointed Maître de musique à la Sainte Chapelle in 1698, a post he held until his death on 24th February 1704.


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  • Slim_rafa

    do cranco

    30 Mar 2014 Reply
  • _duif

    the 'Leçons de Ténèbres' are gorgeous.

    18 Mar 2012 Reply
  • Zimmerman333

    Gran vocal!

    22 Jun 2011 Reply
  • zunari

    H 160, is amazing!!!

    16 Nov 2009 Reply
  • KraeheK

    First comment about his music, whee! This fellow seems to stand out in the very competetive field of French baroque in his pure class. The emotional complexity of his religious pieces seem a step-above much other music - it can be quite transcendent in a similar way to Rameau, but perhaps less overtly complex.

    26 May 2009 Reply

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