Any great reign creates a great epoch that is made by great nations formed from great people. Louis XIV’s time is not an exception. Some personalities became great thanks to the period, while other ones were distinguished by the king himself. Louis XIV had a rare talent to behold the essence of people and this gift allowed him to make less errors than, for example, to his own father, Louis XIII, concerning his milieu. So, let’s bright to light people at the Royal service. And as August is yet a month of feasts & joy, let’s start with the 17th century bohème.
Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687), the Chef Royal composer, made Louis XIV’s reign sound. The King and he are often can be comprehended as synonyms, as two sides of the whole. And there are plenty of reasons why. Born in Florence, got in France thanks to Charles, Duc de Guise and then stayed at la Grand Mademoiselle’s service (the one who fired cannon during the Fronde) for a while, the future great composer attracted the attention of a young Louis during the Ballet de la Nuit. The king enjoyed Lully’s music style and approach and already in 1661 he made him the Superintendant of the Royal music and the Master of the Royal Family. The same year Jean Baptiste became a French subject.
I’m not a specialist on music to describe particularities of Lully’s style from a professional point of view, but I should notice that he had a particular spirit and knew to express his epoch in the most perfect way. Some musical critics say that his baroque style is plain and uninteresting. I disagree with it. There is so much passion, mystery and vivid energy in his compositions that touch the deepest strings of the soul. One must only know to listen to them. What I like in Lully most of all is his versatility. A rare composer can boast so enormous heritage. By means of sound and enchanting performances he unveils to us an amazing universe of the 17th century France. He allows us to know the true King, to feel the breath of Louis XIV’s reign, to learn its true sense. Jean-Baptist Lully’s music is an open book for those who want to penetrate into the mystery of the past…And if to accept that this great composer might have been Tom Jobim!, (I have already posted my considerations on that long ago, so I attach a link below), we are twice blessed with the glory of the Divine tunes.
Vive le Roy!
PS. The post about Tom Jobim & J.-B. Lully: https://eternamenta.wordpress.com/personality/tom-jobim-jean-baptiste-lully-true-spirit-of-music/