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Rameau - Piano Music

Not much is known about the early years of Jean Philippe Rameau (1683-1764). He is believed to have received his early musical instruction from his father, who was an organist. Originally intended for the law, he was educated at the Jesuit College at Godrans, but spent a lot more time on music than on his studies, even disrupting the classes with his singing. At 18 he was sent to Milan for a few months. After his return to France he worked for some time as a violinist in a travelling opera troupe and then held organists post in Clermont, Paris, Dijon and Lyon. For many years Rameau was not much known as a musician – he spent his days in obscurity, composing for the harpsichord and working out his own theory of music, based on his understanding of the physical properties of sound. His important books Traité de l´harmonie (1722) and Noveau système de musique théorique (1726), published when he had moved to Paris a second time, gave him some fame as an important theorist, but he still had trouble finding himself a post as organist in Paris. He took on some students, published more works for the harpsichord and eventually started writing for the stage. At 50 years of age, Rameau produced his first opera, Hippolyte et Aricie in 1733. It was immediately recognised as the most original opera to appear in France since the death of Lully, but some considered its innovations an attack on the French tradition. A marked rivalry continued to exist between the Rameau partisans and the "Lullistes". One of his admirers was the financier and courtier Le Riche de la Pouplinière, who hired Rameau as conductor of his private orchestra, a post Rameau held for 22 years. Through La Pouplinière, Rameau also met Voltaire and other leading writers and philosophers of his day. One of them, Rousseau, was a major participant in the second great quarrel that erupted over Rameau´s work, the so called War of the Buffoons. Rousseau accused Rameau of being out of date and his music too complicated in comparison with the "naturalness" of Pergolesi or other Italian opera buffa composers. The following decades Rameau spent at the very centre of French cultural life, producing important theoretical works and writing operas and other stage works (about 30 in all), the exquisite qualities of which - daring harmonies, rich orchestral colours, expressive recitatives, brilliant choruses and ballets - has earned Rameau the reputation as one of France’s greatest composers.

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Total pieces by Rameau: 55

Collections - Rameau
Rameau - Concerted Pieces (5 pieces)
Rameau - First Book of Harpsichord Pieces (10 pieces)
Rameau - Harpsichord Pieces (24 pieces)
Rameau - New Suites of Harpsichord Pieces (16 pieces)

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