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Francois Francoeur

September 21, 1698 - August 5, 1787
born in Paris, France, composed during the Baroque period
Born into a well-known family of composers and string players, Francoeur was among of the foremost French violinist-composers of the eighteenth century. In his violin sonatas, Francoeur, whose music contemporaries praised as "graceful," introduced a variety of technical innovations, including various bowings, leaps, triple and quadruple stops, as well as playing in all of the first five positions. In addition, Francoeur wrote operas in collaboration with François Rebel, son of the noted violinist-composer Jean-Fery Rebel.

At the age of 15, Francoeur became a violinist in the Opera orchestra, joining the Musique de la Chambre du Roi shortly thereafter. In 1720, he obtained a royal privilege to publish his first book of violin sonatas. Three years later, Francoeur and Rebel traveled abroad, visiting Vienna and Prague.

In 1726, Francoeur and Rebel produced Pyrame et Thisbe, their first joint effort, marking the beginning of a decades-long artistic partnership. The following year, Francoeur succeeded Jean-François de la Porte as compositeur de la chambre du roi. Two years later, Francoeur joined the orders of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St. John of Jerusalem, which was somewhat unusual, since these orders seldom accepted musicians.

Francoeur became a member of the 24 violons du roi in 1730, joining his father and brother in that elite orchestra; his second book of violin sonatas was published that year. He produced an opera, Scanderbeg, in 1735 -- it was not a success. In 1739, Francoeur obtained the post of maitre de musique at the Opera, and four years later, he, along with Rebel, became inspecteur adjoint de l'Opera. Finally, in 1744, Francoeur was named surintendant de la musique de la chambre.

However, desiring to fully devote himself to projects for the stage, Francoeur retired from his position at the Opera in 1753. In 1757, Francoeur and Rebel agreed to lead the Opera, and signed a 30-year contract. Unfortunately, this was not an auspicious time for the Paris Opera. On top of its serious financial and personnel problems, the Opera also had to contend with the Querelle des boufons, the Quarrel of the Comedians, which had been raging since 1752. In essence, the quarrel was a cultural war between the proponents of French opera and those who believed that opera can only be Italian. Although King Louis XV favored French opera, the powerful intelligentsia of Paris defended the Italian cause with great passion. When the Opera was destroyed in a fire in 1763, Francoeur faced public resentment, and his situation seemed hopeless. He was literally rescued by a grateful Louis XV, who bestowed a title on nobility on him. Thus, when Francoeur was forced to leave the Opera in 1757, he had his title, as well the post of surintendant de la musique de chambre. He retired from his chamber music appointment in 1776. ~ Zoran Minderovic, Rovi
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