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Nicolas de Grigny

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Nicolas de Grigny (baptized September 8, 1672 – November 30, 1703) was a French organist and one of the leading French organ composers of his time. Contrapuntally more complex than most (if not all) music of the era, Grigny’s work stands at the pinnacle of French baroque organ music. His only rivals in terms of both musical science and religious inspiration were François Couperin and Louis Marchand.

He was born in Reims in 1672 into a family of musicians: his grandfather, one of his uncles, and his father were all organists at different churches in Reims. Grigny studied with Nicolas Lebègue, and in 1693 he was appointed titular organist at Saint Denis, near Paris. He was married in 1695 and subsequently had seven children. In 1696 he returned to Reims, where, a year later, he became organist of Notre-Dame de Reims. He occupied the position until his untimely death in 1703, when he was only 31 years old. Grigny’s only surviving music is a large volume of organ works, Premier livre d’orgue.[1] It contains a setting of the mass and five hymns for Lauds and Vespers in several versets: Veni Creator (five versets), Pange lingua (three versets), Verbum supernum (four versets), Ave maris stella (four versets) and A solis ortus (three versets). Johann Sebastian Bach admired the work and copied it by hand.

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