Saturday, 18 November 2017


“France cannot be France without greatness.” - Charles de Gaulle 

Pierre Danican Philidor is a French composer and musician who was born on August 22, 1681 and died on September 1, 1731. Pierre was the son of Jacques Danican Philidor “the Cadet” (also a musician), and nephew of André Danican Philidor (also a composer). Pierre was in 1697, oboe and violin of the Great Stable of the King, instrumentalist in the Chapel in 1704, and was included in the violins of the Cabinet of the King four years later.

He lived in Paris, Rue Betisy, and in 1716 he became a viola player in the Chamber of the King. He is said to have composed a ‘Pastorale’ (1702 –‘L’Églogue de Marly’, pastorale performed before Monseigneur, and then before Louis XIV) in his early years, but this has not survived. He is best known for his six suites with two transverse flutes and six others for flute and bass.

The trios of 1717, dedicated to the Bishop of Rennes, Grand Master of the Chapel of the King, are among of Philidor’s finest achievements. Since those trios of Mademoiselle de la Guerre, that had had the privilege of pleasing Louis XIV, this trio form had been appreciated by the monarch as the perfect representation of his purest taste for the musical arts. Marin Marais had, moreover, delivered his own suites in the same form in 1692 followed closely by the three books of La Barre (respectively in 1694, 1700 and 1707) and by that of Hotteterre “the Roman” in 1712.

Titon du Tillet in his ‘French Parnassus’ has this to say about Philidor:
“I will say about Pierre Danican Philidor, of whom I have just spoken, that he is the first, with one of the Desjardins (both Oboes of the first Company of the Musketeers of the King), whom Lully had included into the Orchestra of the Opera, and that he was so satisfied with them, that he used them in some of his Motets, especially in his ‘Te Deum’, where he also introduced trumpets and drums.” 

Here are Philidor's Suites for Oboe, published in 1717 and performed by Antoine Torunczyk and Alfredo Bernardini (oboes) and the chamber group “L’Assemblee des Honnestes Curieux”.

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