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Marin Marais by André Bouys, 1704.
Marin Marais (31 May 1656, Parismarker15 August 1728, Paris) was a Frenchmarker composer and viol player. He studied composition with Jean-Baptiste Lully, often conducting his operas, and with master of the bass viol Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe for 6 months. He was hired as a musician in 1676 to the royal court of Versaillesmarker. He did quite well as court musician, and in 1679 was appointed "ordinaire de la chambre du roy pour la viole", a title he kept until 1725.

He was a master of the basse de viol, and the leading French composer of music for the instrument. He wrote five books of Pièces de viole (1686-1725) for the instrument, generally suites with basso continuo. These were quite popular in the court, and for these he was remembered in later years as he who "founded and firmly established the empire of the viol" (Hubert Le Blanc, 1740). His other works include a book of Pièces en trio (1692) and four operas (1693-1709), Alcyone (1706) being noted for its tempest scene.

Titon du Tillet included Marais in Le Parnasse françois, making the following comments on two of his pieces:

As with Sainte-Colombe, little of Marin Marais' personal life is known after he reached adulthood. Marin Marais married a Parisian, Catherine d'Amicourt, on September 21, 1676. They had 19 children together.

Facsimiles of all five books of Marais' Pièces de viole are published by Éditions J.M. Fuzeau. A complete critical edition of his instrumental works in seven volumes, edited by John Hsu, is published by Broude Brothers.

Works

Instrumental music



  • Pieces for 1 and 2 viols, Book I (20 August 1686, only solo viols, 1 March 1689 first published with associated basso continuo)
  • Pieces en trio pour les flutes, violon, et dessus de viole (published on 20 December 1692, dedicated to Marie-Anne Roland)
  • Pieces for 1 and 2 viols, Book II (1701), including 32 couplets on "Les folies d'Espagna"
  • Pieces de violes, Book III (1711)
  • Pieces for 1 and 3 viols, Book IV (1717)
  • La gamme et autres morceaux de symphonie (1723, includes La Gamma en forme d'un petit Opera, Sonata a la Maresienne, Sonnerie de Ste-Geneviève du Mont-de-Paris)
  • Pieces de violes, Book V (1725)
  • 145 Pieces for viol (c. 1680), about 100 pieces were published in Books I - III
  • Concerto for violin and orchestra (lost)
  • Concerto for viol and orchestra (lost)


Operas

  • Idylle dramatique of 1686 (music lost)
  • Alcide ou Triomphe d'Hercule (1693, in collaboration with Louis Lully)
  • Ariane et Bacchus (1696)
  • Alcyone (premiered on 18 February 1706)
  • Sémélé (1709)
  • Pantomime des pages (with Louis Lully, music lost)


Sacred works

  • Te Deum (1701) for the recovery of the Dauphnis (lost)
  • Motet Domine salvum fac regem (1701) for the recovery of the Dauphnis (lost)


Media

Discography

Marin Marais, Sonnerie de Ste-Genevieve du Mont, Suite en Do majeur (C major), Suite en Re majeur (D major); performers: N. Harnoncourt, A. Harnoncourt, L.Stastny, H. Tachezi; recording label: Harmonia Mundi, France, no. HMC 90414; 1973, 1987.

Marin Marais, Les Folies d'Espagne, La reveuse, L'arabesque, Le badinage, Sonnerie de Ste-Genevieve du Mont; performers: Jordi Savall (Bass viola da gamba), Pierre Hantaï (Harpsichord), Rolf Lislevand (Theorbo); recording label: Alia Vox, 9821; 2002.

References in Film

Marais and his music were featured in the film Tous les matins du monde (1991), an atmospheric, meticulously imagined life of Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe. Marais' music figured prominently in that film, including his longer work Sonnerie de Ste-Geneviève du Mont-de-Paris (1723). The role of Marin Marais is played by Gérard Depardieu. A recording of the Sonnerie performed on a Fairlight synthesizer was used in the cult classic film Liquid Sky.

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