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Première Suite de symphonies

About the Work

Quick Look Composer: John Joseph Mouret
Program note originally written for the following performance:
National Symphony Orchestra: Leonard Slatkin, conductor/Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano Thu., Jan. 22, 2004, 7:00 PM
© Richard Freed
Jean-Joseph Mouret was trained at the famous choir school of Notre Dame des Doms in his native city. His slightly younger colleague Jean-Philippe Rameau took on a temporary assignment as organist at that institution in 1702, before making his way to Paris in 1706; Mouret arrived there the following year and almost immediately was named maître de musique to the Marechal de Noailles. In less than a decade he was conducting at the Op éra and composing for the Théâtre Français, and in 1717 he took up what was to be a 20-year appointment as composer and director with the Nouvel Théâtre Italien.; from 1728 to 1734 he was artistic director of the city's leading concert series, the Concert Spirituel. Despite his success, both as composer and in his executive positions, the last year of his life found him reduced to penury and he died insane, in the care of the Fathers of Charity at Charenton.

Mouret is not well known today, and his two brilliant Suites de Symphonies are too often mixed up with the more numerous similar works by his senior compatriot Michel Richard Delalande (1657-1726). The first of Mouret's suites is more or less a collection of four fanfare pieces, under the heading Fanfares pour des trompettes, timbales, violins et hautbois. In the 1970s its opening number became one of those pieces everybody "knows,” though in most cases without any idea of the actual title or the identity of the composer. It has been put to frequent and effective celebratory and commercial use, most conspicuously as the signature piece for the television series Masterpiece Theatre.