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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Sunday, December 20

Mouret's Masterpiece?

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1738, a once-successful French composer died destitute in an asylum of Charenton. It was a lamentable end for the 56-year-old Jean-Joseph Mouret, who had once served the French King at the Palais Royal and whose operas had once graced the stage of the Paris Opéra.

How ironic, then, that Mouret would achieve belated fame in 20th century America when the "Rondeau" from his “Symphonies and Fanfares for the King's Supper” was chosen as the theme for the “Masterpiece Theatre” TV series on PBS. Christopher Sarson, the original executive producer of “Masterpiece Theatre,” recalls how this came about.

“In 1962 my future wife and I went to one of the Club Med villages in Italy. We were in these little straw huts and every morning we were summoned to breakfast by that theme. It was just magic... I wanted to use it for Masterpiece Theatre but there was no way I could bear to put a FRENCH piece of music on something that was supposed to be English. I went through all kinds of English composers and nothing worked. So, Mouret became the theme.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Jean-Joseph Mouret (1682 – 1738) Rondeau Wynton Marsalis, trumpet; English Chamber Orchestra; Anthony Newman, cond. SONY 66244

Additional Information

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