François Roberday


French composer and organist. He was the son of a renowned goldsmith who also built organs; his was a family of musicians‹Roberday was himself the brother-in-law of Jean-Henri d'Anglebert, one of the most famous French composers and harpsichordist to the King of France. On his father's death, Roberday was succeeded to the post of goldsmith to the King. In 1659 he was appointed valet de chambre to Anne of Austria and to subsequently to Queen Marie-Therese of Spain. Roberday was organist of several churches in Paris, most notably the Notre-Dame des Victoires church and the Petits-Pères church. He was also known as a teacher and Jean-Baptiste Lully may have been one of his pupils. Roberday fell on difficult times in later life and by the time of his death he was impoverished. He died in 1680 in Auffargis, a village south of Paris, during an epidemic.

Roberday's most famous work is Fugues et caprices, a collection of organ pieces published in 1660 in Paris. The collection includes twelve four-voice fugues, of which numbers 1, 2, 3, 6, 8 and 9 are paired with caprices, fast-paced pieces based on the subjects of their corresponding fugues. These too feature four-part counterpoint, although slightly less complex than that in the fugues. The fugues use subjects with extensive usage of longer note values, which are modified in the caprices to better suite their fast tempi. Many of the pieces feature multiple sections, with a few double fugues and some variation fugues present.

The collection shows considerable Italian influence and many of the pieces are based on themes from miscellaneous composers of the era, including Girolamo Frescobaldi, Louis Couperin, Jean-Henri d'Anglebert, Johann Jakob Froberger, Francesco Cavalli and others. Some researchers (notably Jordi Savall) regard Fugues et caprices as an important precursor to JBach's The Art of Fugue. Since the pieces of the collection are non-liturgical, they make Roberday one of the last composers of the French polyphonic tradition.

VIIB: At the Court of Louis XIV