François-André Danican Philidor [Filidor]

(1726 - 1795)

French composer. He was the youngest son of André Danican Philidor l'aîné (1647 - 1730), composer and music librarian, and half-brother of Anne Danican Philidor (1681 - 1728), composer and founder of the Concert spirituel. As a pageboy in the royal chapel at Versailles he studied music with André Campra and learned to play chess. In 1740 he went to Paris, where he earned a living by copying and teaching. But he was more interested in chess; he studied with and defeated France's best player, Légal. After a concert tour of the Netherlands with Geminiani and Lanza was abruptly canceled in 1745, Philidor traveled to London. He was soon recognized as the leading chess player of central and northern Europe; he published a chess treatise in 1749. In 1754 he returned to Paris and applied unsuccessfully for the post of court composer at Versailles. Rebel considered his Italianate style unsuitable for the Opéra, but between 1759 and 1765 Philidor produced eleven opéras comiques,including Le Maréchal ferrant(1761), Le Sorcier(1764), and Tom Jones(1765). After 1771 he spent much of his time in London, where he gave seasonal lectures and demonstrations to the St. James Chess Club in 1771 and 1773, and from 1775 to 1792. Also in London he produced his major choral work, the Carmen saeculare(1779). Philidor continued to teach music and compose for the French stage and the Concert spirituel,although his later tragedies, including Persée(1780) and Thémistocle(1785), were not well received.



VIIC: Concerts Spirituel