Dandrieu, Jean-Francois (1682 - 1738)

Jean-François Dandrieu (c. 1682 - 17 January 1738) was a French Baroque composer, harpsichordist and organist. He was born in Paris into a family of artists and musicians. A gifted and precocious child, he gave his first public performances when he was 5 years old, playing the harpsichord for Louis XIV, King of France, and his court. These concerts marked the beginning of Dandrieu's very successful career as harpsichordist and organist. In 1705 he became titular organist of the Saint-Merry church in Paris (a post previously occupied by Nicolas Lebègue). At some point in 1706 he was a member of the panel of judges who examined Jean-Philippe Rameau's skills in order to decide whether he could be appointed organist of the Sainte-Madeleine en la Cité church. In 1721 he was appointed one of the four organists of the Chapel Royal of France. He died in Paris in 1738.

The works published during his lifetime include the following collections:

* Livre de Sonates en Trio, trio sonatas (1705)
* Two Livres de Sonates à violon seul, sonatas for solo violin (1710 and 1720)
* Les Caractères de la Guerre, instrumental concerts (1718, a revised version published in 1733)
* Three little harpsichord collections (1705) and three great ones (1724, 1728 and 1734)

A volume of organ pieces was published posthumously in 1739 and contained, among other works, some pieces by the catholic priest and organist Pierre Dandrieu, Jean-François' uncle. Dandrieu also published an academic treatise on accompaniment (Principes de l'accompagnement) in 1718, which now serves as an important source of information on the musical practice of the era.

Dandrieu's harpsichord writing is reminiscent of that of François Couperin, but with more effective use of counterpoint, which reminds one of the German Baroque music. The strict traditional suite "à la Froberger" is abandoned in his works, many dance movements replaced with the so-called pièces de caractère, pieces with descriptive titles that were common in French music of the 18th century. Dandrieu's harpsichord oeuvre is, after those of François Couperin and Jean-Nicolas Geoffroy, the most important in terms of sheer quantity of pieces.

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