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French organ school - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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French organ school

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The French organ school formed in the first half of the 17th century. It progressed from the strict
polyphonic music of Jean Titelouze (ca 15631633) to a unique, richly ornamented style with its
own characteristic forms that made full use of the French classical organ. Instrumental in
establishing this style were Louis Couperin (ca 16261661), who experimented with structure,
registration and melodic lines, expanding the traditional polyphonic forms, and Guillaume-Gabriel
Nivers (16321714), who established the distinct forms and styles of what was to become the
French organ tradition.

1 Characteristic forms and nomenclature
2 Composers
2.1 First period: the development of free polyphony
2.2 Second period: the establishing of the French Classical Organ School
2.3 Third period: 18th century
2.4 Late 18th century and post-revolutionary period
3 See also
4 Notes
5 References

Characteristic forms and nomenclature

French organ composers cultivated four major genres: masses, hymns, suites and nols. Nols are
variations on Christmas carols, whereas the first three genres were all realized as collections of
brief pieces in various characteristic forms. Such forms included the following:[1]
Rcit: a piece in which a single voice emerges soloistically above all others by means of
special registration. The latter is usually indicated in the title, i.e. in a Rcit de Cromorne the
solo voice would be played using the cromorne stop. Cromorne, cornet, tierce, nasard,
trompette and voix humaine are the most commonly encountered solo stops. The titles of such
compositions frequently omit the word "rcit" and simply indicate the registration (Cromorne,
Cornet, etc.) and/or the position of the solo voice. Typical combinations include the
Dessus de Cromorne: the solo voice is in the soprano (dessus), played using the cromorne

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Tierce en taille: the solo voice is in the tenor (taille), played using the tierce stop
Basse de Trompette: the solo voice is in the bass (basse), played using the trompette stop
Dialogue: a piece which constantly alternates between two different registrations. Nivers
distinguished between two subtypes: Dialogue de rcits and Dialogue deux Churs, the
latter alternating between positif (choir organ) and grand jeu (full reed stops). Also
encountered are dialogues that use more churs than two; a Dialogue 4 Churs will
alternate between positif, grand jeu, rcit sections and the pedal, and may also include echo
sections (as in a Dialogue 4 Churs by Jacques Boyvin).
Duo and Trio: two- and three-voice polyphonic pieces, respectively. There are two subtypes
of trios: Trio trois claviers (literally "on three keyboards"), a trio for two manuals and
pedals, and Trio deux dessusa trio with two parts for the right hand and one for the left.
Fugue: usually, three- or four-voice polyphonic pieces that adhere more or less strictly to the
imitative style. The designation Fugue grave indicates a piece of a serious character, whereas
the Fugue gaie (or gaye) is its opposite. Rarely, four-voice fugal pieces bear the title Quatuor
("quartet"). Nicolas de Grigny cultivated five-voice fugues.
Echo: phrases are played twice, quieter on the second time, giving the impression of an echo.
This impression is heightened in echos that repeat only the endings of phrases. Such pieces
used specially designed echo divisions.
Plein jeu or Prlude: mostly homophonic pieces in duple or quadruple meter. They are
almost invariably used as introductory movements.
Additionally, a number of standard registrations may be indicated by the following designations:
Grand jeu: a loud combination of reed stops used in homophonic sections of larger pieces or
standalone prludes.
Jeux doux, Fond d'orgue, [Concert des] fltes: three related registrations. The first ("soft
stops") comprises closed or open flutes with or without principals, resulting in a soft, quiet
sound. This combination is most commonly used in rcits to accompany solo stops. The fond
d'orgue ("bottom/depths of the organ") is the same augmented with all the flue pipes; it was
used to imply seriousness, gravity and accompany en taille rcits together with a flte pedal.
Finally, [concert des] fltes refers to softer flue combinations that were used alone (as
opposed to accompanying a solo stop).
The designations dessus, taille and basse stand for "soprano", "tenor" and "bass", respectively,
although "en taille" most commonly indicates the alto range.[2] A rarely used type of voicing is
haute-contre (or haulte contre), "high tenor". Such designations are used to point to the position of
the solo stop in a rcit (see examples above), or of the chant melody in a setting (i.e. the title Kyrie
en basse indicates that the chant itself is in the bass).

First period: the development of free polyphony

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Jean Titelouze (ca 15631633)

Charles Racquet (15981664)
Louis Couperin (ca 16261661)
Franois Roberday (16241680)
Nicolas Gigault (ca 16271707)

Second period: the establishing of the French Classical Organ School

Nicolas-Antoine Lebgue (16311702)
Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers (16321714)
Jean-Nicolas Geoffroy (16331694)
Jean-Henri d'Anglebert (16351691)
Andr Raison (ca 16401719)
Lambert Chaumont (ca 16451712)
Gilles Jullien (1650/531703)
Jacques Boyvin (ca 16501706)
Mathieu Lanes (16601725)
Pierre Dandrieu (ca 16601733)
Franois Couperin (16681733)
Charles Piroye (ca 1668/72 ca 1728/30)
Louis Marchand (16691732)
Gaspard Corrette (1671before 1733)
Nicolas de Grigny (16721703)
Pierre Dumage (16741751)
Jean-Adam Guilain (ca 1675/80 after 1739)

Third period: 18th century

Louis-Nicolas Clrambault (16761749)
Jean-Franois Dandrieu (ca 16821738)
Franois d'Agincourt (16841758)
Louis-Antoine Dornel (16851765)
Christophe Moyreau (ca 1690 ca 1772)
Louis-Claude Daquin (16941772)
Guillaume-Antoine Calvire (16951755)
Pierre Fvrier (1696 after 1762)
Jean Girard (16961765)
Georg Franck (ca 1700/10 after 1740)
Louis Archimbaud (17051789)
Michel Corrette (17071795)
Louis Bollioud-Mermet (17091794)
Claude-Bnigne Balbastre (17241799)
Armand-Louis Couperin (17271789)

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Jean-Baptiste Ntre (17321807)

Jean-Jacques Beauvarlet-Charpentier (17341794)
Josse-Franois-Joseph Benaut (ca 17431794)

Late 18th century and post-revolutionary period

Guillaume Lasceux (17401831)
Nicolas Sjan (17451819)
Jean-Nicolas Marrigues (17571834)
Gervais-Franois Couperin (17591826)
Jean-Baptiste Charbonnier (17641859)
Jacques-Marie Beauvarlet-Charpentier (17661834)
Franois-Louis Perne (17721832)
Alexandre Pierre Franois Boly (17851858)
Louis-Nicolas Sjan (17861849)

See also
French baroque harpsichordists
German organ schools
List of organ composers
Organ repertoire

1. The following section briefly summarizes explanations from the following sources: Apel 1972,
723725; Owen 1997, 110118; Silbiger 2004, 108112.
2. Silbiger, 111.

Apel, Willi. 1972. The History of Keyboard Music to 1700. Translated by Hans Tischler.
Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-21141-7. Originally published as Geschichte der
Orgel- und Klaviermusik bis 1700 by Brenreiter-Verlag, Kassel.
Beckmann, Klaus. Repertorium Orgelmusik. Komponisten - Werke - Editionen. 1150-2000
(3., neu bearbeitete und erweiterte Auflage 2001). Vol. I. Schott. ISBN 3-7957-0500-2
Douglass, Fenner. 1995. The Language of the Classical French Organ: A Musical Tradition
Before 1800. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-06426-8
Owen, Barbara. 1997. The Registration of Baroque Organ Music. Indiana University Press.
ISBN 0-253-21085-2

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Silbiger, Alexander. 2004. Keyboard Music Before 1700. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-96891-7
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