Jean-Philippe Rameau – Life and Work

Jean-Philippe Rameau received his first musical training from his father, and then studied at the Jesuit College in Dijon. After an extended period in Milan he published his first compositions. Amongst other activities he was organist in Clermont-Ferrand, Paris, Dijon and Lyon between 1702 and 1722, before moving to Paris in 1722. There he directed a private orchestra for over twenty years, working as an organist again from 1732 onwards. The performance of his opera Hippolyte et Aricie (1733) triggered a musical-aesthetic debate. From about 1737 onwards Rameau dedicated himself exclusively to the areas of composition, music theory and teaching. In 1745 at the age of 62 he was appointed court composer by Louis XV. Rameau was one of the most distinctive personalities of the Baroque period. Besides his work as an organist and composer, his output of scholarly writing made him one of the leading music theorists. His operas, ballets and stage music as well as his keyboard works (Pièces de clavecin), demonstrate that Rameau was one of the most influential innovators of the music of his time.