Marc-Antoine Charpentier

French composer (Paris, 1643 - 1704)

Composer for amusement, short melodies, cantatas and instrumental pieces, Marc-Antoine Charpentier is considered as one of the greatest masters of French music from the 17th century for his religious work - masses, antiphons, hymns and motets.

One of Carissimi’s students in Rome, Marc-Antoine Charpentier returned to compose in France and obtained a large audience in Italian circles. He composed many plays for dramatic authors such as Corneille or Molière, the latter of whom hired him in as a musician after a quarrel with Lully in 1671. 

Marc-Antoine Charpentier was above all a great innovator in the art of variation and dissonance. Establishing the foundation for today’s modern oratorio, he introduced France to the cantata. While he left the monody for accompanied polyphony, he went on innovating with instrumental structure by breaking ties with the sound "families". And finally, as a great instructor Charpentier, he set in stone the essence of what a composer should always know about harmony rules in his treatise the "Règles de la composition".

Six landmark dates in the life of Marc-Antoine :

1679: Composer of the Dauphin's Music and the Duchess of Guise
1680: Master of music of the Duchess of Guise
1684: Choirmaster at the Saint-Louis Church
1688: Master of music of the Jesuits
1690: Composition Master of Philippe d'Orléans
1698: Music master of the Sainte Chapelle 

Six key works by Marc-Antoine Charpentier:

1673: Le Malade imaginaire, prologue and 3 interludes for Molière's comedy-ballet
1683: Le Massacre des innocents, sacred story
1686-1687: Orphée descendant aux enfers, opera in 2 acts
1688: David et Jonathas, opera
1692: Te Deum en ré majeur, for soloists, choir and orchestra
1693: Médée, opera