Jean-Philippe Rameau went to school at the Jesuit college at Godrans, but he was a bad pupil and disrupted classes. His parents wanted him to study law, but Rameau decided he wanted to be a musician. His father taught him music, and sent him to Italy where he stayed only three months. When he came back to France, he started his organist career, playing in Clermont-Ferrand's cathedral, in Avignon and in Lyon.
Jean-Philippe Rameau gave great importance to theoretical works. In 1722, he started a revolution in music theory with his Treatise on Harmony, in which he considered music as a science and attempted to derive universal harmonic principles from natural causes. This work became the definitive authority on music theory, forming the foundation for instruction in western music that persists today.
When he turned fifty, his career as a great composer truly began. Before 1733, Jean-Philippe Rameau had only composed some motets, cantatas and pieces for harpsichord, but his first opera, Hippolytus and Aricia, was soon premiered at the Académie Royale de Musique. Six years later, he had written four more masterpieces: Les Indes galantes (1735), Castor and Pollux (1737), The Festivities of Hebe and Dardanus (1739).
In 1745, Rameau wrote two ballets with Voltaire: The Princess of Navarre and The Temple of Glory. This same year, Jean-Philippe Rameau became King Louis XV's musician, though his music was a source of controversy: a quarrel erupted over Rameau's work which favoured the new Italian style, accused of being dangerous for the traditional French opera.
Martha Argerich, President of the Jury
Aletta Collins (stage director), Sir Simon Rattle (conductor) – With Anna Prohaska (Aricie), Magdalena Kožená (Phèdre), Elsa Dreisig (Diane), Reinoud Van M...
With Le Concert des Nations
Recital at the Berliner Philharmonie
With the Concert d’Astrée under the baton of Emmanuelle Haïm
Le Concert Spirituel at the Time of Louis XV
Pierre Audi (stage director), Christophe Rousset (conductor) – With Anna Maria Panzarella (Télaïr), Véronique Gens (Phébé), Finnur Bjarnason (Castor), Henk...
Pierre Audi (stage director), Christophe Rousset (conductor) – With Anders J. Dahlin (Zoroastre), Sine Bundgaard (Amélite), Anna Maria Panzarella (Erinice)
Concert behind closed doors
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (stage director), Ivor Bolton (conductor) – With Lisette Oropesa, Goran Juric...
Michel Fau (stage director), Raphaël Pichon (conductor) – Opéra National de Bordeaux
Jonathan Kent (stage director), William Christie (conductor) – With Ed Lyon (Hippolytus), Christiane Karg (Aricia), Sarah Connolly (Phaedre)...
Le Concert des Nations
Corps de Ballet de l'Opéra national de Paris
With Les Ambassadeurs and Alexis Kossenko
Verbier Festival 2017
A documentary analysis by Reiner E. Moritz, featuring Les Arts Florissants