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The Lure and Legacy of Music at Versailles
Louis XIV and the Aix School


Lionel Sawkins
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  • Date Published: January 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108722094

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About the Authors
  • Louis XIV and his court at Versailles had a profound influence on music in France and throughout Europe. In 1660 Louis visited Aix-en-Provence, a trip that resulted in political and cultural transformations throughout the region. Soon thereafter Aix became an important center of sacred music composition, eventually rivaling Paris for the quality of the composers it produced. John Hajdu Heyer documents the young king's visit and examines how he and his court deployed sacred music to enhance the royal image and secure the loyalty of the populace. Exploring the circle of composers at Aix, Heyer provides the most up-to-date and complete biographies in English of nine key figures, including Guillaume Poitevin, André Campra, Jean Gilles, François Estienne, and Antoine Blanchard. The book goes on to reveal how the history of political power in the region was reflected through church music, and how musicians were affected by contemporary events.

    • The first study in English to focus on the important music center of Aix-en-Provence in southern France
    • Integrates the history of Louis XIV's incursion in Provence with the musical developments that followed
    • Sheds light on the institution of the French choir school, its leadership, its functions, and the day-to-day life of the choirboys
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Every knowable fact, beginning with the names of the choirboys and their teachers, is presented in loving detail. Thanks to the archives of the cathedral chapter, and those of the Aixois notaries, John Hajdu Heyer brings to life the religious musical culture of the most prestigious musique in Provence, as it was lived during a golden age of French music, the classical age … [He] rightly draws on the research of other scholars, and a lot of his own, to bring together what can be known about a major moment in musical culture, far from Paris and Versailles.' Orest Ranum, Panat Times blog (

    '… a fascinating study, the first of its kind in English, of the role of the maître de musique and of the functioning of the maîtrise … this book performs an invaluable service … John Hajdu Heyer, after a lifetime's experience of researching this area, has abundantly demonstrated what a fruitful subject it is for investigation …' Graham Sadler, Early Music

    '… the most comprehensive source of biographical information in English, or indeed in any language, on most of the composers discussed here. … essential reading for existing specialists in the field.' Shirley Thompson, Music and Letters

    '[John] Hajdu Heyer's study is a major contribution to the study of the grand motet, a richly documented, generous book that opens up the field for those who wish to pursue the lines of inquiry he has initiated … the study more generally provides a fascinating insight into the background and training of a number of under-appreciated composers - Campra in particular - who had an outsized influence in Paris. The volume should be of interest to all those who work on sacred music in France and to all scholars interested in Parisian interactions with the provinces.' Peter Bennett, Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108722094
    • dimensions: 245 x 188 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • contains: 14 b/w illus. 4 tables 23 music examples
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Foreword Lionel Sawkins
    General introduction
    Part I. Rendezvous in Provence:
    1. The winter of 1660: Louis XIV and the royal court visit Provence
    2. A choirboy and his king: the early life of Guillaume Poitevin
    Part II. The Aix School: A Legacy of Maîtres:
    3. Guillaume Poitevin: maître of Saint-Sauveur
    4. André Campra: an extraordinary career
    5. Jean Gilles: an independent spirit
    6. The 'petits maîtres'
    7. Antoine Blanchard: the eighteenth-century master
    Part III. The Lure and Legacy:
    8. The lure of music at Versailles and the Île-de-France
    9. Patronage and the Provençal networks
    10. The legacy of the Aix School
    Appendix I
    Appendix II.

  • Author

    John Hajdu Heyer, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
    John Hajdu Heyer is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. He began his exploration of French sacred music from the time of Louis XIV during his years as a student in Paris with Nadia Boulanger (1967–70). His publications include two books and five critical editions of works by Jean-Baptiste Lully and Jean Gilles. His work as a musicologist and conductor has twice been recognized with the Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society for 'distinguished contribution to the study and performance of early music'. He has served on the Council of the American Musicological Society, the editorial board for the Web Library of Seventeenth-Century Music, and was active on the committees preparing the collected works of Lully. In the past four years, he has undertaken extensive research in the archives and libraries of southern France.


    Lionel Sawkins

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