François Couperin was a prolific and influential Baroque composer. He was born in Paris in 1668 and died there in 1733, just 2 months before his 65th birthday, involved in music from beginning to end.
He came from a very talented musical family. His uncle and father were both organists at the church of St. Gervais and it is likely his music education started at a young age. His father passed away when François was 10. François inherited the position from his father but did not occupy it until he turned 18. This post would eventually pass from François to his cousin and other family members.
Couperin received royal patronage during his career. He was Organiste du Roi at the Royal Chapel, appointed by Louis XIV. This was a position he shared with Buterne, Nivers, and Lebègue. He performed his duties for the first 4 months of the year and spent the rest of his year at the church of St. Gervais. He taught princes and princesses, was the royal harpsichordist, and became a court composer. He composed church music for the Royal Chapel and gave weekly concerts. In addition to composing, teaching, and playing, he found time to publish written works on fingering and other music topics. He had four volumes of harpsichord music published during his lifetime – the final one only 3 years before his death. His work was much loved and respected by many composers including Bach, Strauss, and Ravel.
We will have the pleasure of hearing some of Couperin’s works when they are performed by Stephanie Chua on February 27th.