It was on today's date in 1745 that a 73-year-old French Baroque composer named Antoine Forqueray died in Mantes-la-Jolie outside Paris, where he had lived after his retirement as a court musician to King Louis XIV of France.
Forqueray was a virtuoso on the viola da gamba, a bowed string instrument popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, but which is nowadays played mainly by specialists in old music. At the tender age of 10, Forqueray played before Louis XIV. Seven years later he landed a job at the Court of Versailles.
In Forqueray's day the other great French gamba virtuoso and composer was Marin Marais, noted for his introspective, sweet, and gentle style of playing. Forqueray's style was the polar opposite: extroverted and bold, even brash. People said Marais played like an angel, and Forqueray like the devil.
Forqueray's style was so distinctive that three other French composers of the day, Jean-Philippe Rameau, François Couperin, and Jacques Duphly, each composed a piece named "La Forqueray" in tribute to him.
An obituary notice suggested that by the time of Forqueray's death he had composed some three hundred works, but a selection of thirty-two pieces published by Forqueray's son two years after his father's death are the only music by Antoine Forqueray that survives.
Music Played in Today's Program
Antoine Forqueray (1671 - 1745) Piece for viola de gamba
On This Day
1491 - English monarch, instrument collector and part-time composer Henry Tudor(as King Henry VIII he reigned 1509-1547) in Greenwich;
1712 - Swiss author, philosopher and composer Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in Geneva;
1831 - Hungarian violinist and conductor and composer Joseph Joachim, in Kittsee (now Köpcsény), near Poszony;
1902 - American composer Richard Rodgers, in Hammels Station, Long Island, N.Y.;
1913 - English composer George Lloyd, in St. Ives, Cornwall;
1946 - American composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez, in San Antonio, Texas;
1745 - French composer and gamba virtuoso Antoine Forqueray, age 74,in Nantes;
1979 - East German composer Paul Dessau, age 85, in Königs Wusterhausen, near (then) East Berlin;
1905 - Leoni: opera, "L'oracolo" (The Oracle), in London; The opera's story of opium and crime is set in San Francisco, and caused protests from that city's Chinese community when it was revived in San Francisco in 1937;
1916 - Hindemith: Cello Concerto, Op. 3, by the Frankfurt Conservatory Orchestra, with the composer conducting and Maurits Frank the soloist;
1951 - Leroy Anderson: "Blue Tango" at a Decca recording session in New York City, with the composer conducting; This recording reached No. 1 on the pops charts and earned Anderson a Gold Record award in 1952 when it became the first instrumental record to sell over one million copies (see also June 29);
1959 - Hovhaness: Symphony No. 4 for wind band, in Pittsburgh.
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About Composers Datebook®
Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.
He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.