French composers. Works of French composers

The traditions of French musical culture began to be laid even before the 15th century. It is known for certain that the cultures of the German and Celtic tribes living on the modern territory of France had a great influence on it. The development of music in this country took place in collaboration with the creativity of the peoples of neighboring countries - Italians and Germans. That is why the French musical heritage turned out to be so colorful and diverse.


Initially, folk music came to the fore in France, without which ordinary people could not imagine their existence. With the advent of Christianity, church music was born, which gradually began to change under the influence of the people.

french composers

The most famous writer of the liturgies of that time is called Hilaria from the province of Poitiers. He lived in the 3rd century and was the cleverest theologian and teacher of the church.

From about the 10th century, secular music began to gain popularity. It is performed at the feudal yards, on the squares of large cities, in monasteries. Among the instruments found drum, flute, tambourine, lute.

Century 12 was marked by the opening of the music school at Notre-Dame, the great cathedral of Paris. Its composers became the creators of new musical genres (conduct, motet).

In the 13th century, Adam de la Al became the most prominent musician, who rethought the work of the troubadours, giving way to true musical art. His most interesting creation is "The Game of Robin and Marion." He became the author of both poetry and music for this play, which was successfully staged at the court of Count Artois.

Ars Novova - the direction of European music, which has received its development in France, has become the embodiment of new ideas of musicians. French composers Guillaume de Macho and Philip de Vitry became the main theorists of this period. De Vitry wrote the musical accompaniment to the poem "Roman about Fauvel," de Macau became the author of the Mass of Notre Dame. This is the first work written by one composer, and not in collaboration with someone.


From the middle of the 15th to the second half of the 16th century, French music developed under the influence of the Netherlands school and such internal political changes as the war for the unification of France, the establishment of a centralized state, the emergence of the bourgeoisie.

Under the influence of composers such as Gilles Benshua, Josquin Despres, Orlando di Lasso, a new layer is formed in the art of music in France. The royal court does not stand aside. Cappelles appear there and assert the position of chief quartermaster of music. The first was a violinist from Italy Balthazarini di Beljoizo.

The heyday of national musical culture in the 16th century, when it stood out as a genre of chanson, organ music acquired a significant role. Jean Titluz became the ancestor and ideologue of this trend.

18th century French composers

The work of the Huguenots, which because of religious feuds had been relegated to the background, was widespread. The French composers, the largest representatives of this stratum, Claude Gudimel and Claude Lejeune, became the authors of hundreds of psalms. Both of them suffered during the St. Bartholomew night.

17th century

The music of this century developed under the influence of the established absolute monarchy.The court life under Louis 15 was famous for its pomp and abundance. Therefore, it is not surprising that, among other entertainments, such important genres as opera and ballet have appeared.

Cardinal Mazarin fought for the development of sophisticated art. Its Italian origin has led to the popularization of the culture of this country in France. The first experiments of creating a national opera belong to Elizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, who wrote "Kefala and Procrid" in 1694.

Opened in 1671, the Royal Opera House gave the country wonderful composers. Marc-Antoine Charpentier created hundreds of works, including the opera Descent of Orpheus to Hell, Medea, and Judgment of Paris. Andre Kampra is the author of the opera-ballet "Gallant Europe", "The Carnival of Venice", the musical tragedies "Iphigenia in Taurida", "Achilles and Deydamia".

The 17th century was the period of the formation of the French school of harpsichordists. Among its participants can be identified Chamboniere and Jean-Henri d'Angleber.

18 century

Music and social life in this century is changing dramatically. Concert activity goes beyond the court. Since 1725, regular public concerts were held in theaters.The societies "Amateur Concerts" and "Friends of Apollo" were founded in Paris, where lovers could enjoy the performance of instrumental music.

The harpsichord suite reaches its heyday in the 30s. Francois Couperin wrote more than 250 pieces for the harpsichord and became famous not only in his native country, but also abroad. He also has royal operas and works for organ.

For music of the 18th century, the work of Jean Philippe Rameau, who was not only a talented composer, but also a prominent theorist in his work, was of great importance. His lyrical tragedies "Castor and Pollux", "Hippolytus and Arysia", the ballet opera "Gallant Indies" are in demand from modern by french composers

Until the mid-18th century, almost all musical works were either ecclesiastical or mythological. But the mood in society demanded new interpretations and genres. On this basis, opera-buff, which from the satirical side showed high society and royal power, gained popularity. The first libretto to such operas was written by Charles Favard.

French composers of the 18th century had a great influence on the operatic style and the theoretical musical background of this genre.

19th century

The great French Revolution entailed significant changes in the musical culture. The wind music came to the fore. Special schools were opened to train military musicians. In the opera now dominated patriotic scenes with new national heroes.

The period of the Restoration was marked by the elevation of the romantic opera. The French composer Berlioz is the most prominent representative of this time. His first program was the Fantastic Symphony, which reflected the exaggerated emotionality and typical moods of the time. He became the creator of the dramatic symphony Romeo and Juliet, the overtures of King Lear, the opera Benvenuto Cellini. In his home country, Hector Berlioz was evaluated ambiguously. It was connected with a special creative way, which he chose for himself. His works are filled with incredible orchestral effects, which the composer used the first of French musicians.

The middle of the 19th century was marked by the beginning of the development of the operetta in the country. But already in the 1870s, lyrical music came to the fore, but with realistic trends. The founder of this genre is Charles Gounod.His operas - “The Doctor Involuntarily”, “Faust” “Romeo and Juliet” - express all the innovative developments of the composer.

Dozens of works significant for the culture of France were created by Georges Bizet, who lived a short life. He studied at the Conservatory from the age of 10 and made great strides from the start. He won several significant music contests, which allowed the musician to go to Rome for several years. After his return to Paris, Georges Bizet begins to work on the opera of his whole life - "Carmen". Its premiere took place in 1875. The public did not accept and did not understand this work. The composer died in the same year, never seeing the triumph of "Carmen."

In the last years of the 19th century, French composers wrote under the influence of German, especially Richard Wagner.

20th century

The new century was marked by the spread of impressionism in musical culture. Great French composers became adherents of this style. The most striking was C. Debussy. In his work reflected all the main features inherent in this direction. The aesthetics of impressionism did not remain aloof from another Frenchman. Maurice Ravel in his works mixed different stylistic trends of his time.

moris ravel

The 20th century was a period of creation of creative associations, whose members were artists.The famous "French Six", created under the leadership of Eric Sati and Jean Cocteau, became the most powerful community of composers of the time.

The association got its name because of the analogy with the Russian Union of Composers - the Mighty Handful. They were brought together by the desire to distance themselves from foreign influence (in this case, German) and to develop the national layer of this art.

The association included Louis Durey ("Lyrical Offerings", "Self-Portraits"), Darius Millau (opera "Guilty Mother", ballet "Creation of the World"), Arthur Onegger (opera "Judith", ballet "Shota Rustaveli"), George Oric ( music for the films "Princess of Cleves", "Roman Holiday"), Francis Poulenc (opera "Carmelite Dialogues", cantata "Masquerade Ball") and Germain Tayfer (opera "Little Mermaid", ballet "The Bird Seller").Claude Debussy

In 1935 another association was born - "Young France". Olivier Messiaen (opera "St. Francis of Assisi"), Andre Jolive (ballet "Beauty and the Beast", "Ariadne") took part in it.

Such a new trend, like the musical avant-garde, appeared after 1950. Pierre Boulez, who studied with Messiaen, became his prominent representative and inspiration.In 2010, he entered the top twenty best conductors in the world.

The development of contemporary art in France contributed to the pioneering work of such pillars of academic music as Debussy and Ravel.


Ashil-Claude Debussy, born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, from the early childhood felt a craving for beauty. Already in 10 years, he entered the Paris Conservatory. Study was easy for him, the boy even won a small internal competition. But Claude harmony classes, because the teacher was unfriendly to the boy's experiments with sounds.

Interrupting his studies, Claude Debussy went on a journey with N. von Meck, a landowner from Russia, as a home pianist. The time spent on Russian soil had a beneficial effect on Claude. He enjoyed the work of Tchaikovsky, Balakirev and other composers.

Returning to Paris, Debussy continues to study at the conservatory and write. He still forms his own style. The turning point in Claude’s life was an acquaintance with E. Sati, who, with his innovative ideas, showed the way to the beginning composer.

Debussy's mature style was finally formed by 1894, when he wrote "The Faun's Afternoon Rest," a famous symphonic prelude.

The famous French composer became the author of such works as "Moonlight", "Romantic Waltz", "Prints" (compositions for piano), operas "Pelleas and Melisande", "The Fall of the House of Usher" and dozens of others.


Maurice Ravel was born in the south of France, but in order to study his favorite work, he moved to Paris at a young age. His teacher was the French composer-pianist Charles de Berio.

As with Debussy, Maurice was greatly influenced by the meeting with Eric Sati. After it, Ravel began to compose with a vengeance, inspired by the speeches and ideas of the composer.

While studying at the Conservatory, Ravel wrote a number of works on Spanish motifs ("Habanera", "The Old Minuet"), which are affably met by fellow musicians. However, the style of the composer once played a cruel joke with him. Ravel was not allowed to participate in the competition for the prestigious Rome Prize, citing the age restrictions. But the composer did not reach another 30 years and could, in accordance with the rules, submit his own composition. In 1905, a huge scandal broke out in the music world because of this.

After the First World War, to which Ravel volunteered, in his works the emotional beginning was considered the main one.This explains the abrupt transition from the writing of operas to instrumental compositions (suite "The Tomb of Couperin"). He also collaborates with Sergei Dyagilev and writes music for the ballet "Daphnis and Chloe".

At the same time, the composer begins to work on his most significant work, Bolero. The music was written by 1928.

The last work of Maurice Ravel became "Three Songs", written for Fyodor Chaliapin.


For the Russian audience, the name of a French composer sounds very familiar. This is Michel Legrand, who created the music for cult films.

Michelle Jean was born in the family of a conductor and pianist. From childhood, the boy was fascinated by the art of music, and therefore entered the Paris Conservatory. After completing his studies, he went to the USA, where he began to write music for films.

In France, he worked with renowned directors Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Demi. His most popular work is the music for the film "Cherbourg Umbrellas".

Michelle Legrand

He wrote jazz music. From the 1960s he worked in Hollywood. Among the famous works of the composer - the music for the "Scam of Thomas Crown", "The Other Side of Midnight". Michel Legrand is three times winner of the Academy Award.

21 century

Academic music is still in demand in France. Do not count all the festivals and established awards for achievements in this area. In Paris, which is the cultural center of the country, are the National Conservatory, Opera Bastille, Opera Garnier, Theater des Champs Elysees. There are dozens of orchestras known throughout the world.

Michelle Legrand

The music of French composers is becoming known to the general public through cinema. Along with opera and symphonic music, they also write for films. Basically, these are works for the French film industry, but some composers also go international. The most successful living composers of the 21st century French are:

  1. Antoine Duhamel ("Stolen Kisses", "Graceful Era").
  2. Maurice Jarre ("Doctor Zhivago", "Walk in the Clouds").
  3. Vladimir Cosma ("Umbrella prick", "Papas").
  4. Bruno Kule ("Belphegor-ghost of the Louvre", "Chorists").
  5. Louis Aubert (operas "Blue Forest", "Bewitching Night").
  6. Philippe Sard ("Daughter of Artaignan", "Princess de Montpensier").
  7. Eric Serra (soundtracks for Leon, Joan of Arc, Fifth Element).
  8. Gabriel Yared ("The English Patient", "Cold Mountain").

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