Keyboard Arrangements and the Development of the Overture in French Harpsichord Music, 1670-1730

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    Perhaps the banning of Isis performances at court, due to the scandal surrounding Louis XIV and his mistresses, contributed to the opera's popularity among the public.5 Was it for the same reason that Jean Henry d'Anglebert, in his capacity as court musician to the King, reserved his keyboard setting of the Isis overture for his own private entertainment? (The arrangement appears in d'Anglebert's autograph manuscript, Rés-89ter, but was never published.) Significantly, d'Anglebert had sufficient confidence to publish three other transcriptions of Lully's overtures-those to Cadmus et Hermione, Le Carnaval, and Prosperine-as idiomatic keyboard pieces worthy of placement alongside his best original compositions. Since they succeed well on the harpsichord, I would think that people would be grateful to me for providing a number of pieces of different characters here.6 Although as early as the 1660s Lully's overtures were often played on the harpsichord, the first original keyboard overtures written by a French composer were not published until 1701. All three categories are represented in the eleven surviving keyboard arrangements of the Isis overture, the first seven measures of which are shown in example la.8 The Stoss version (bottom of ex. la) can hardly be called an arrangement, for it is a virtual copy of the outer parts of either the full score or, more likely, the reduced score. Most reductions found in French and French-related sources, however, display a variable three-part texture like that in most stylized dances in French harpsichord music of the second half of the seventeenth century.9 In its basic form this texture consists of a melody in the righthand part and a two-voice accompaniment in the left.10 Within this flexible fabric, arrangers heightened musical interest through several common procedures.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33-67
    Number of pages35
    JournalEarly Keyboard Journal
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Arts and Humanities(all)


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