Charpentier, Marc Antoine

1634-1702

A dramatic composer, who was born in Paris and became a pupil of Carissimi at Rome. He had gone to Italy to study painting, but was drawn to music by Carissimi's compositions, and from then on devoted himself entirely to the study of music. He was master of the chapel to the Dauphin, under Louis XIV., but was displaced by Lully, whose rival he became. He next became master of the chapel to Marie Guise, the betrothed of the Duke of Orleans. After composing much for the theatre, he began composing for churches and became professor of music in the Jesuit College. Among his works were fifteen operas, pastorals, drinking songs, cantatas, preludes and symphonies, while in sacred music he wrote a number of masses and motets, and several cantatas. He was superior in training and knowledge to Lully, but lacked the latter's genius. In spite of the fact that he lived at a time when Lully dominated the scene he was recognized as a greater musician, and won much renown for his opera, Medee, a lyric tragedy in five acts and a prologue, the words by Thomas Corneille. It was first performed in Paris, in 1693, and despite its success was never repeated. A number of Charpentier's compositions are in the library of the Paris Conservatory and in the Bibliotheque Nationale.