Jean-Phillipe Rameau (1683-1764).

Jean-Phillipe Rameau was born in Dijon in 1683. As only later in his lifetime would Rameau standout as a composer and musician, very little is known of his life. We do know that Rameau went to Italy in 1701, and that until 1715 he was an organ player in several churches in Lyon and Paris. In 1722 Rameau published an important work, the "Traité de l'harmonie", in which he introduces very innovative theoric aspects for his time, and in 1732 he published another one on organ and harpsichord accompaniment.

In 1733, already in his 50's, Rameau started a fruitful career in opera, composing "Hippolyte et Haricie", although this opera was not a success itself. Rameau would compose twenty more operas, quickly becoming very successful.

And it was in opera that Rameau most innovated, experimenting new harmonic combinations, a new and audacious instrumentation and the introduction of recitatives more alike the italian recitatives, making a more clear distinction between recitative (récit) and aria (air). Unsurprisingly, Rameau was told to be the successor of Lully as an opera composer. In 1745 Rameau was appointed chamber music court composer. Also, Rameau invented the "opera-comique", which was designed to face the success of the italian "opera buffa".

In Rameau's music we find a rare innovative sense. Fir, he distances is music from Lully's melodic and harmonic world, creating a new instrumental colouring, without abandoning the traditional french style and taste, maintaining rhythm and form. And these changes were valid not only for opera, but as well his harpsichord music and church music: just like Lully, Rameau's motets maintain the "grandeur" of opera.


Jean-Phillipe Rameau: Les Indes Galantes (Entrée de Ballet)

Reccomended recordings:  



Hippolyte et Arcie: Auger, Moser, Watkinsin, Caley, La Grand Écurie, Malgoire, CBS.

Dardanus: Eda-Pierre, von Stade, Gautier, Devlin, Soyer, Van Dam, Coro e Orquestra da Operá de Paris, Leppard, Erato.

Plateé: Poulenard, Brewer, Rivenq, Ragon, De Moor, Batty, Ensemble vocal de Marseille, La Grande Écurie, Malgoire, CBS.

Les Indes Galantes: Rodde, Yakar, Micheau, Tréguier, Le Maigat, Brewer, Benoît, Grupo vocal Passaquet, La Grande Écurie, Malgoire, CBS.