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GOSSEC, Francois  (1734-1829)

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Gossec, Francois-Joseph, significant South Netherlands composer; b. Vergnies, Jan. 17, 1734; d. Paris, Feb. 16, 1829. He showed musical inclinations at an early age; as a child, studied at the collegiate church in Walcourt and sang in thechapel of St. Aldegonde in Maubeuge; then joined the chapel of St. Pierre there, where he studied violin, harpsichord, harmony, and composition with Jean Vanderbelen; in 1742 was engaged as a chorister at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Antwerp; received some instruction with André-Joseph Blavier in violin and organ there. In 1751 he went to Paris, and in 1754 joined a private musical ensemble of the rich amateur La Pouplinière. There he wrote chamber music and little syms., in which he seems to have anticipated Haydn; several works for string quartet followed in 1759. After the death of La Pouplinière in 1762, Gossec became director of the private theater of Louis-Joseph de Bourbon, Prince of Condé, in Chantilly. In 1760 he wrote a Requiem; then turned his attention to stage music; produced a 3-act opéra comique, Le Faux Lord (Paris, June 27,1765); obtained a decisive success with another short opéra comique, Les Pêcheurs (Paris, April 23, 1766). In 1769 he organized a performing society, Concerts des Amateurs; became a director of the Concert Spirituel (1773-77); was also an associate director of the Paris Opéra (1780-85) and director of the École Royale de Chant (1784-89); when this school became the Cons. in 1795, Gossec became one of the inspectors, and also taught composition there; he publ. a manual, Exposition des principes de La musique, for use at the Cons. In 1795 he became a member of the newly founded Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France. Gossec welcomed the French Revolution with great enthusiasm, and wrote many festive works to celebrate Revolutionary events, among them L’Offrande a La Liberté (1792), Le Triomphe de La Rëpublique (1793), and numerous marches and hymns. During his long life he saw many changes of regime, but retained his position in the musical world and in society throughout the political upheavals. He retired to Passy, then a suburb oI Paris, at the age of 80. Gossec’s historic role consists in his creation of a French type of symphonic composition, in which he expanded the resources of instrumentation so as to provide for dynamic contrasts; he experimented with new sonorities in instrumental and choral writing; his string quartets attained a coherence of style and symmetry of form that laid the foundation of French chamber music. In his choral works, Gossec was a bold innovator, presaging in some respects the usages of Berlioz; his Te Deum (1790), written for a Revolutionary festival, is scored for 1,200 singers and 300 wind instruments; in his oratorio La Natiuité (1774), he introduced an invisible chorus of angels placed behind the stage; in other works, he separated choral groups in order to produce special antiphonal effects.
Works:          STAGE: Le Perigourdin, intermezzo (private theatei of the Prince of Conti, Paris, June 7, 1761); Le Tonnelier, opéra comique (Comédie-ltalienne, Paris, March 16, 1765) Le Faux Lord, opéra comique (Comédie-Italienne, June 27 1765); Les Pêcheurs, opéra comique (Comédie-Italienne, Apri]
23, 1766); Toinon et Toinette, opéra comique (Comédie-Ita lienne, June 20,1767); Le Double Dëguisement, opéra comiquE (Comédie-Italienne, Sept. 28, 1767); Les Agrdmeuts d’Hylm et Sylvie, pastorale (Comédie-Francaise, Dec. 10, 1768); Sabintis, tragédie lyrique (Versailles, Dec. 4,1773); Berthe, opera (Théâtre Royal de in Monnaie, Brussels, Jan. 18, 1775; nol extant); Alexis et Daphne, pastorale (Opéra, Paris, Sept. 26 1775); Phildmon et Baucis, pastorale (Opéra, Sept. 26, 1775) Annette et Lubin, ballet (Opéra, 1778); La Fête de nillage, inter mezzo (Opéra, May 26, 1778); Mirza, ballet (Opéra, Nov. 18 1779; rev. 1788); La Fête de Mirza, ballet-pantomime (Opéra Feb. 17,1781); Thësée, tragédie lyrique(Opera, March 1,1782) Electre, incidental music (1782); Nitocris, opera (1783); Li Premier Navigateur, ou Le Pouvoir de l’amour, ballet (Opéra July 26, 1785); Atlwlie, incidental music (Fontainebleau, Nov 3?, 1785); Rosine, ou L’Eposue abandonnëe, opera (Opéra, July 14, 1786); Le Pied de bwuf~ divertissement (Opéra, June 17
-  1787); Les Sabots et le cerisier, opera (Théâtre des Jeune~ Elèves, Paris, 1803). ORCH.: About 50 syms., otherorch. pieces and Revolutionary works for Wind Band. cHoIL&t~: Missa pr( defunctis (1760; publ. as Messe des marts in 1780); oratorios: La Nativite (1774; ed. by D. Townsend, N.Y., 1966) and L'Arche d'alliance (1781; not extant); motets and other sacred works. d’alliance (1781; not extant); motets and other sacred works.
REVOLUTIONARY WORKS FOR VOICES: About 40 such pieces, including a Te Deum (1790); Le Chant du 14 juillet (1791); Cha~urd Ia Ubertë(1792); L’Offrandea Ia Libertë(1792); Hymne a Ia liberté (1792); Le Ti-iomphe de La rëpublique, ou Le Camp de Grandpré (1793); Hymne a Ia Iiberté (Hymne a La nature) (1793); Hymne a L’humanité (1795); La Nouvelle an camp de I’assassinat ... ou La Cr1 de vengeance (1799). CHAMBER: 6 trio sonatas (c. 1753); 6 duos for Flutes or Violins (c. 1754); 6 duets for 2 Violins (1765); 6 trios for 2 Violins and Bass with Horns ad libitum (1766); 12 string quartets (2 books, 1769 and 1772).