French composer. It was once thought that he came from a family of royal painters; little is actually known of his youth. Apparently he studied with Carissimi in Rome, probably from around 1662; returning to Paris (before 1670), he became maître de musiqueat the residence of Marie de Lorraine, Mademoiselle de Guise. During his years at this post (which lasted until Marie's death in 1688) he composed La descente d 'Orphée aux enfers,as well as motets, Psalms, and other sacred music. In 1672 he became Molière's musical collaborator when the latter broke with Lully; Charpentier composed prologues, entr'actes, and other music for the poet's Mariage forcé(1672) and Malade imaginaire(1673), and he continued collaborating with the Comédie-françaiseafter Molière's death in 1673. In 1683 Louis XIV, pleased with the composer's theater music, granted him a pension.
During the 1680s Charpentier served as maître of the Jesuits' St. Louis church; he was also music teacher to Philippe, Duke of Chartres. When the post of maître de musique des enfantsopened up at the Sainte Chapelle in 1698, Charpentier won the job over Sébastien de Brossard. The position required him to compose a large number of sacred works and music for special occasions (a Te Deum and the Judicium Salomonis). He died leaving few published works (Médée,1694; selections from Circé,1676) but a great many works in manuscript. Among his sacred works are eleven Mass settings, a large number of Psalms, antiphons, sequences, and lessons, and more than 200 motets; he also composed overtures, symphonies, and other instrumental works for the church. Nearlyfifty of his cantatas and airs sérieux et à boireare known. Chief among his works for the stage are La couronne de fleurs(pastorale, 1685), David et Jonathas(1688), and Médée(tragédie en musique,1693). He also wrote three treatises, which remain in manuscript.