Marin Marais

French gambist and composer (Paris, 1656 – Paris, 1728)

Marin Marais is considered one of the most important musical figures of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Marin Marais lived his entire life in Paris and most of it in the service of King Louis XIV. He studies bass viola with Jean de Sainte-Colombe and composition with Lully. While at the height of glory, he relinquishes his position and devotes himself to teaching and horticulture. Unrivalled virtuoso of the viola da gamba that he perfects by enhancing the instrument's sonority, he is renowned for his teaching. He created a fingering method that had a decisive influence on the playing technique. Marin Marais, is part of the French tradition and opponent of Italian music. In his dramatic music, the recitatives follow the verses’ metric scheme and the rhyme’s inflection. His pieces for viola, about 650 gathered in Suites, are characterised by their harmonic refinement with a both rigorous and improvised writing.

Three landmark dates in the life of Marin Marais:

1676: Member of the Royal Orchestra, King's musician.

1679-1725: Valet de chambre of the king for the viola.

1686: He dedicates his first book of viola pieces to Lully, who was his teacher.

Six key works by Marin Marais:

From 1686 to 1725: 5 Books of Pieces for 1 and 2 viols with associated basso continuo. The first of these books is dedicated to Lully.

1692: Pieces en trio pour les flutes, violon, et dessus de viole

1693: Alcide, in collaboration with Louis Lully, opera composed for the Royal Academy of Music.

1706: Alcyone, opera composed for the Royal Academy of Music. On this occasion, Marais introduces the double bass to the Opera orchestra for the first time.

1709: Sémélé, opera composed for the Royal Academy of Music.

1723: La Gamme et autres morceaux de symphonies pour le violon, la viole et le clavecin