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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 1688Paris, France
Date of Death 1733Paris, France

Mini Bio (1)

Francois Couperin (Couperin le Grand) was born on November 10, 1668, in Paris, France. His father, named Charles Couperin, was the organist at the church of St. Gervais in Paris. In 1679, when Couperin's father died, he was already deputizing him as an organist, and on his 18th birthday Couperin officially inherited his father's previous position as the organist at St. Gervais.

Couperin composed a collection of 'Pieces d'orgue' (1690). That composition was acclaimed by his teacher Jacques Thomelin, who played for the King at the Chapelle Royale. Thomelin recommended Couperin to the Court and helped him to become established as a Royal Court organist in 1693, with the title 'Organiste du Roi'. From 1700-1717 Couperin was also the Royal Harpsichordist at Versailles. Couperin was composing music and directing the orchestra at Sunday concerts for the King. In 1724 he wrote a collection of exquisite trio sonatas 'La Parnasse ou L'apotheose de Corelli', acknowledging his debt to Arcangelo Corelli.

Couperin played mainly keyboard instruments, organ, harpsichord, and early pianoforte, of which he was the unrivaled virtuoso of his time. His compositions were published in elegantly engraved editions in 1713 and later, with careful annotations for players. His most important publication was 'L'art de touché le clavecin' (The art of touching the keyboard, 1716), where Couperin standardized notation for the use of ornaments and dotted rhythms, and elucidated the fingering system, including the use of thumbs in virtuoso passages. This book was thoroughly studied by Johann Sebastian Bach, who adopted the fingering system.

Francois Couperin composed and published over 230 pieces for keyboard. Johannes Brahms was influenced by and performed Couperin's keyboard music in public. Later Richard Strauss orchestrated several of Couperin's keyboard pieces in a form of tone poems. He was highly regarded by Claude Debussy and also by Maurice Ravel, who memorialized his favorite composer in the suite for solo piano 'Le Tombeau de Couperin' (1914-1917).

Couperin family was enjoying the dominant position in the French musical life of the Baroque era. Francois Couperin was the most important musician in the family and was distinguished with the title of 'Le Grad', or Couperin the Great. He died on September 12, 1733, in Paris, an was laid to rest in the Curch of Saint Joseph.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

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