Le Grand Hautbois Research Paper

Pages: 21 (6350 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Music


As Mazarin's mentee and pupil, Louis acquired the prime minister's love of the arts, style and opulence. It was not until later that Louis stopped deferring to Mazarin's authority and assumed his own power as King (Bernard 1970). As the war between France and Spain came to an end and transferred power from the Habsburgs to the Bourbons, Louis assumed his role as soldier on the battlefield. Louis proved his commitment to the throne and France when, in 1660, he married the daughter of the King of Spain and his cousin, Marie-Therese of Austria, rather than the woman he loved, Marie Mancini, Mazarin's niece, to unite the two countries (ibid).

Louis was now old and experienced enough to assume his leadership. When Mazarin died a year later, he surprised everyone by reporting that he would assume entire responsibility for the kingdom. As dictator by divine right and God's representative on earth, he felt obligated to take on this role (Study 1998). For the next 54 years, Louis committed himself to control everything from the soldiers, to construction, to the arts. He even controlled the nobles, who had started 11 civil wars in the previous four decades, by making them dependent on him for luxuries and a grand lifestyle. Yet it was through his support of the arts that Louis differentiated himself and his reign.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Research Paper on Le Grand Hautbois During the Assignment

When Louis was a teenager, Cardinal Mazarin supported the King's ballet debut in a series of dances in Le Ballet de la Nuit. In the final piece, Louis appeared as Apollo, the god of sun, with a golden Roman-cut corselet and a kilt of golden rays. From then on in, he was known as the Sun God (Harman and Milner 1959). Louis' teacher was the Italian ballet master Giovanni Baptista Lulli, who was rechristened Jean Baptiste Lully for work in France. Lully had been at Mlle de Montpensier's court in France studying composition and the harpsichord (Blunt 1980). Here, he frequently heard a performance of the King's grande bande and witnessed many balls with the best in French dance music. Lully would become one of the most well-known artists in the King's court and the main architect of the French Baroque style during the Baroque period. Under Lully's tutelage, Louis established the Academie Royale de Danse, the world's first ballet school, in a room of the Louvre. During this same period, he attended the ballet Les Facheaux by Moliere and invited Moliere to join him in his court. This was the beginning of many new forms of music.

Lully and a group of musicians traveled with the royal entourage to St. Jean de Luz for the wedding of Louis and Marie-Therese in June of 1660. Lully prepared his first surviving grand motet, the Jubilate Deo for the elaborate Parisian festivities that followed the ceremony in August. The celebrations culminated in the formal entry of the royal couple into the French capital on Thursday, August 26, with festivities continuing through August 29. This may have been the most grand of all celebrations of the seventeenth century (Burke 1994)

According to the Gazette, Lully's Jubilate Deo was first introduced on August 29 at the La Mercy monastery. The performance came after dinner and was attended by the two queens, the King's brother, Monsieur, and other lords and nobles. The article also said that the royal musicians played Lully's composition with 24 violins and other instruments (Burke 1994). With its references to the Bible, Jubilate Deo is known as one of the first of numerous compositions that were used to enhance Louis's image and support his rapid rise to power; only 11 years later, he was called Louis le grand. No French king ever used his ceremonies in such a promotional manner as Louis. Voltaire observed that any type of art possible was used to enhance the King's masculine beauty, which made everyone keep their eyes on him (ibid). Lully's motet promoted this objective, along with the many elaborate arches and decorations in the city.

It is also at this time that one of the first official reports of the woodwinds occurred. From the Gazette's coverage of the motet's performance, it appears that instruments such as flutes, oboes, and bassoons may have been used, but the only source remaining does not provide any instrumental descriptions other than the clefs. It is by the colloquial writing and music's character that such statements can be made (Buelow 2004). The symphonie would most likely have opened with a performance by all the instruments, as would the Tous sections with all the voices and instruments. In fact, several passages in the motet may even have been intended for solo hautbois. The bass solo may have been intended for two hautbois and a bassoon for accompaniment. Solo flutes may have played in a later duet (ibid).

Soon, Moliere was choreographing and Lully composing music for new ballets. They were joined by Pierre Beauchamps, another ballet master, who choreographed dramatic interludes. Beauchamps, who came to be known as "superintendent of the king's ballets" is now recognized as one of the most famous "fathers" of ballet (Anthony 1974). Among other firsts, Beauchamps was given credit for standardizing the first through fifth foot positions of ballet. The King danced for another decade, established the Academie Royale de Musique for Lully and then retired from dancing. This same dance company, which continues today under the name of the Paris Opera, is the world's oldest continuously running ballet academy.

Lully's commitment to the art of dance replaced courtiers as dancers by professionals, mostly men. However, in 1681 he produced Le Triomphe de l'Amour, which starred Mademoiselle de Lafontaine, one of four ballerinas in the production (Anthony 1974). Lafontaine has since been called the "Queen of Dance." Lully's career never slowed down. He continued writing music until he hurt his foot, which became gangrene. He died three months later in 1687.

Whitwell (xxxx) is the expert on the music and instruments during the reign of Louis XIV. When introducing the history of the Le Grand Hautbois, he first writes about the Ecurie, which is an ancient title meaning "stable," a wind band that included musicians and riding masters, sword bearers, heralds of arms and royal household officers. These musicians were very prestigious and were exempt from paying taxes and going to church. They received food and clothing in addition to a sizable income and bonuses when playing in major ceremonies. Whitwell (ibid) does not believe there was any formal audition for the Ecurie, but rather based on recommendations. Le Grand Hautbois is a band that falls under the larger term of Ecurie. This was one of the most memorable wind bands in music history. The musicians of the Grand Ecurie played for varied ceremonies and events, such as peace proclamations, receptions for visiting dignitaries, royal baptism processions, weddings, funerals, tournaments, and the opening of the hunt. The dress of the players was excessive with rich fabric laced with gold and silver, large hats, buff leather belts, and trumpet slings (Rhodes).

As noted previously, it was long considered that the Le Grand Hautbois was not established until the reign of Louis XIV. However, it is now recognized that it dates back to Francois I's reign, which was close to the start of the sixteenth century. Then it seems to remain an independent wind band up to the French Revolution. Whitwell (xxxx) explains that one of the reasons for misunderstanding is that the title of this band changes in the account book for payments made.

Whitwell (xxxx) explains that up to 1715, when it was called Hautbois et saqueboutes, the band was written down as Joueurs de violons, haultbois, saqueboutes et cornetz, a title that the scribes used from the time of Francois I. This makes sense, since the first part of the reign of Francois I, the band included six oboes and Italian trombones along with another ensemble of six violins. However, later the violins disappeared and joined the Chambre section. In the time of Henry III in 1580, there was a band of twelve. This twelve-wind ensemble remains a pure wind band into the seventeenth century. However, at this time, the name "violin" is once again in the records. It appears that each of the wind instrument players also played a violin. This was common at the time in France, as well as in Germany. Although they did play both wind and string, the band was only made up of the winds.

Whitwell (xxxx) also explains that even though it was a wind band during the seventeenth century, it was not an oboe band. Instead, Le Grand Hautbois must mean the equivalent to "the double-reed family" band, which was made up of three sizes of oboes:

dessus, which is the size of today's instrument, two larger forms called haute-contre and taille, each played by two players, and two additional ones playing on the basse de hautbois, what music historians normally assume… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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