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Introduction To The Composer | Jean-Baptiste Lully

Jean-Baptiste Lully was born on November 28th 1632 in Florence, Italy.

Best known for being the founder of French opera, Lully was a strict disciplinarian with a quick temper who was notorious for his ambitious, ruthless nature.

In 1652, he was employed by King Louis XIV in Paris and in 1661 became court composer whose job was to write music for the lavish court ballets.

Lully collaborated with the playwright Moliere from 1664 to 1672. Together, the two wrote several comedies-ballets for the court. It was in his drama that Lully began to develop more dramatic recitatives and large choral forms. Written in 1670, “Le bourgeois gentilhomme”, or “The Bourgeois Gentleman” was the most famous work to come from this period.

In 1672, Lully established a monopoly when he obtained an exclusive patent over the production of opera in France from Perrin, a bankrupt fellow musician.

Over the next 14 years he teamed up for poet Philippe Quinault and produced a series of new and original operas based on legend and mythology. Some of the “lyric tradegies” include “Armide”, “Phaeton”, and “Isis”.

Jean-Baptiste Lully’s life ended rather strangely. While conducting a piece titled “Te Deum”, which was written to celebrate King Louis XIV’s recovery from being ill, he struck his foot with a heavy staff while beating time. When gangrene set in, Lully refused to amputate his toe. He died from the infection on March 22nd, 1687, in Paris, France, at the age of 54.

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