Joseph Bodin de Boismortier

French baroque composer (Thionville, 1689-1755)

Joseph Bodin de Boismortier created, together with François Devienne, a French flute tradition thanks to the quality and quantity of works he dedicated to this instrument, contributing to its popularization and technical development. His inspirations and musical style travelled beyond borders, and despite the use of typical French dancing movements, his work was close to that of Telemann.

Joseph Bodin de Boismortier was the son of Michel Bodin, former military reconverted in confectionery. His family moved to Metz in 1700, and Joseph started receiving musical education from Joseph Valette de Montigny. He started singing and studying flute, which was then on the verge of becoming a very popular instrument.

In 1713, Boismortier follows Montigny and moved to Perpignan, where he found employment in the Royal Tobacco Control. In 1724, he moved to Paris. Unwilling to have an official position in a court or chapel, Boismortier was among the first to want to live off his compositions.

Although the majority of his works were made for the flute, Boismortier, did not neglect other instruments: he composed sonatas and suites for harpsichord, sonatas and suites for musette and vielle, quartet sonatas as well as works for oboe and recorder. His pieces were widely appreciated by the Parisian audience and allowed him to access the most prestigious salons, as well as Opera and Concert Spirituel. He would indeed go on and compose three opera-ballets and several cantatas in this context.

6 landmark dates in the life of Joseph Bodin:

1720: Wedded Marie Valette, a relative of Montigny

1722: Birth of his daughter Suzanne Bodin de Boismortier, an 18th-century French literary figure

1724: he moves to Paris to conquer a new kind of public, interested in salon music

1738: he receives the privilege to print and publish books, therefore publishing his works until 1750

1752: he participates in the creation of two works by Naudot

1755: he dies in Roissy-en-Brie

6 key works by Joseph Bodin:

1724: Le printemps, cantata

1727: Duos for 2 flutes, op. 2

1736: Les Voyages de l’Amour, opera-ballet

1740: Le buveur dompté, cantata

1743: Don Quichotte chez la duchesse, comic ballet

1747: Daphnis et Chloé, pastorale

Biography from Radio France’s document database, November 2013