Jacques Champion, Sieur de Chambonnières


Jacques Champion Chambonnières

French composer and harpsichordist. His family name was Champion, and he came from a long line of musicians‹his grandfather, Thomas Champion, also known as Mithou, was a keyboard player of some distinction and his father a member of the royal household as 'joueur d'espinette'. Chambonnières was himself a famous harpsichord player, and took over his father's appointment c. 1643. He had actually been named to the survivance from his father as early as 1611, and shared the charge with him from 1638. Chambonnières held subscription concerts in his home with the collaboration of musicians he hired by himself. These are the first evidence of private concerts not given under royal or aristocratic control in France. Chambonnières sought to present himself as a nobleman who practiced music as a dilettante, enjoying an extravagant lifestyle, and owning a horse driven coach; this was the source of financial difficulties. He married twice, the first time (before 1631) to Marie Le Clerc then, as a widower, to Marguerite Ferret on December 16, 1652. The couple separated in 1657, due to Chambonnières' need for luxury beyond his income. Chambonnières discovered the talent of Louis Couperin during a private party in his manor near Chaumes-en-Brie, and made him come to Paris where he was to have a brilliant and short career. He was also the teacher of Jean-Henri d'Anglebert and Jacques Hardel. He was a good dancer, and performed in the Ballet Royal de la Nuit of 1653. In 1655 - 1656, he lost his influence among the musicians of Louis XIV, perhaps because he refused to play continuo in Lully's orchestra. He fell into disgrace in 1662 and sold his title to his pupil Jean-Henry d'Anglebert. Louis Couperin had refused to take the place of his revered benefactor. Due to lack of money, Chambonnières decided to edit his pieces, and published two books with royal privilege in 1670. They contain some 70 pieces and are the first printed evidence of harpsichord music published in France. He died in poverty soon after.

VIIB: At the Court of Louis XIV