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Title: Jean-Baptiste Lully and his successors : music and drama in the Tragedie en musique, 1673-1715
Author: Wood, Caroline
ISNI:       0000 0001 2465 4496
Awarding Body: University of Hull
Current Institution: University of Hull
Date of Award: 1981
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The recent revival of interest in French music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is long overdue. After a period earlier in the century when French scholars, the most prominent of whom were Henry Prunieres and Lionel de la Laurencie, did valuable biographical and some analytical work, and a Complete Edition of Lully' s music. was begun, the early history of French opera remained a largely neglected field of research and, more importantly, performance. The name of Lully was well known to students and musicologists, probably through the bizarre nature of his death, possibly as the originator of the French overture, but as for knowing the actual music ... Recently, however, the picture has changed, and while we may still be some way from seeing Lully's tragedies en musique in the major opera houses of the world, that must surely soon come about for his more illustrious successor, Rameau, the revival and performance of whose music is progressing apace. The original intention of this thesis was to study the early tragedie en musique, in effect, the work of one man, Lully. After work had been in progress to this end for some time, I realized that the period immediately following Lully's death was an even greater lacuna in musical scholarship. Even musically informed people tend to mention Lully and Rameau in the same breath, and yet nearly fifty years separate Lully's last opera, Armide (1686) from Rameau's first, Hippolyte et Aricie (1733). Donald Jay Grout's otherwise comprehensive study, A Short History of Opera,covers this gap in the space of a single page, mentioning by name just five operas (in a footnote) and discussing only the opera-ballet and the influence of Italy, and Grout is far from being alone in this respect. Rameau's operas are not fully comprehensible without reference to Lully, with whose revered masterpieces his own were constantly compared, and to Lully's successors, who initiated developments which help to account for the differences between, say, Armide and Hippolyte et Aricie. Although lying outside the scope of this thesis, the influence of the French music of this period abroad, notably in Germany and England, and on composers as diverse as Purcell, Telemann and Gluck is of major importance. This study, then, combines an assessment of Lully's stature as a dramatist in music with a survey of the attempts of his successors to assume his mantle. The cut-off date of 1715 is not musically determined, being the death of Louis XIV, but since the early history of the French so intricately bound up with the monarchy, the choice may not be inappropriate. By this time, it is possible to see the changes in this ultra-conservative genre which were to pave the way for Rameau. It should be stressed, however, that the outlook of this survey is not intended to be preramiste, since to set Rameau's operas in context requires more study of works outside the genre of the tragedie en musique than time or space permit. The standpoint is firmly postlulliste, since it was the shadow of Lully which was to hang over French opera for a century. The organization may be briefly explained as follows. My aim is comparative rather than chronological, and there is no attempt to treat all the composers equally. To make sense of the tragedie en musique between Lully's death and 1715, it is necessary to have a clear picture of the model which composers were attempting to emulate. Lully's operas, therefore, occupy something approaching half of the discussion, and his is the only biography outlined. This leaves some seventeen composers and forty-three operas to occupy the remaining space. I have omitted from detailed consideration works more closely related to ballet than to opera (such as Lully's Acis et Galatee), operas in fewer than five acts (such as Zephyr et Flore by Lully's sons) and operas in which scenes from earlier works by different composers were cobbled together (such as the Telemaque assembled by Danchet and Campra in 1704, not to be confused with Destouches' opera of the same name). The operas discussed are listed in Appendix One, and the composers and librettists in Appendix Two. The thesis is divided into four parts. Part One sets the emergence of the tragedie en musique and the career of Lully into their historical and cultural context. Part Two surveys the musical forces available to the composer - solo and ensemble voices, the chorus and the orchestra assessing Lully's contribution to each genre and then studying similarities and differences in the operas of his successors. Part Three takes the dramatic conventions of the form and looks at the way in which the musical resources described in Part Two were handled in soliloquy, dialogue and divertissement scenes, and at the dramatic aspects of the use of chorus and orchestra. Here, there is no formal division between the work of Lully and that of his successors, although the assessment is to some extent chronological, and it can be assumed that examples cited together are in chronological order. Part Four looks at large-scale organization embracing scenes, acts and whole operas. To avoid excessive duplication of the names of composers, librettists and dates, a summarized version of Appendix One is supplied in a pocket in the inside back cover to which reference may be made.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Music