François [Charles] Dieupart

(ca. 1670 - ca. 1740)

French violinist, harpsichordist and composer. Although he is known as Charles in most English accounts, other evidence indicates his name was François. He is first noted in a professional capacity in a tax statement of 1695, which lists him amongst the "organists and harpsichord teachers." He subsequently moved to England, possibly stemming from his having met Elizabeth Countess of Sandwich, who had travelled to the continent for health reasons. She was the daughter of John Wilmot, Count of Rochester, as well as the daughter-in-law of Admiral Sir Edward Montagu, a relative of Samuel Pepys. Dieupart dedicated to her the six suites published in Amsterdam (see infra). He was active in London from the early 1700s; in 1704 he composed the incidental music to Peter Motteux's play Britain's Happiness, staged at the Drury Lane Theatre. He worked with the Italian 'cellist Nicola Haym and the violinist Thomas Clayton on Arsinoe(1705), the first London venture in Italian-style opera, also produced at the Drury Lane Theater; in the orchestra, with Dieupart playing harpsichord, was his friend the musician and composer John Christopher Pepusch, and the flutist and oboist John Loeillet, originally from Ghent. The collaboration continued with Dieupart acting as organizer and harpsichordist for Bononcini's Trionfo di Camilla (1706) and Alessandro Scarlatti's Pirro e Demetrio in 1708. He also collaborated with Motteux on the latter's play Love's Triumph. In 1711, the Drury Lane enterprise went bankrupt, unable to compete with Handel's newly formed company when Rinaldo met with enormous success. He had reached a stage where, according to a French observer, he "was on the point of leaving for the Indies in the wake of a surgeon who proposed to use music as an anaesthetic for lithotomies." Hawkins states that from this point on Dieupart was obliged for his subsistence to organize concerts (somewhat successfully in 1711 and 1712), to play in Handel's orchestra, and to teach harpsichord. However, notwithstanding that "in the capacity of a master of that instrument Dieupart had admission into some of the best families in the Kingdom," he spent his remaining years in poverty. Hawkins reports that, before his death "he grew negligent, and frequented concerts performed in ale-houses, in obscure parts of the town, and distinguished himself not [less] there, than he would have done in an assembly of the best judges, by his neat and elegant manner of playing the solos of Corelli." His print Six suittes(Amsterdam, 1701) was issued in versions both for keyboard and for 'cello and treble instrument; Bach and Walther copied out certain of his compositions. His other works include sonatas and songs.

A Partial François [Charles] Dieupart Discography | VIIA: Purcell and his contemporaries | VIID: Chamber and Keyboard Music up to Rameau | VIIF: Ballet and Opera