The Menetou manuscript: A study of styles and repertory for the harpsichord during late-seventeenth-century France

David Y S Chung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The Menetou manuscript (Berkeley, University of California, Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library, MS 777) takes its name from Françoise-Charlotte de Senneterre de Mennetoud (1680-1745), an aristocratic musician who, in 1689, at the age of nine, displayed her musical talents before Louis XIV. Two years later, in 1691, she became the youngest female composer to have her works engraved, when her Airs sérieux à deux were issued by the royal printer, Christophe Ballard. The manuscript was first studied in 1970, in an article by Alan Curtis, who drew attention to the historical significance of the six Airs sérieux de mademoiselle de menetou (fol. 48v-52r). The present re-examination of the manuscript suggests that its significance extends beyond the historical value of the Menetou airs, for it preserves music of relevance to the then prevalent traditions of music making, which included the considerable involvement of professional composers, even if the music were essentially intended for the elite classes. Obviously, as the single largest collection of arrangements of the music of Lully, the Menetou manuscript underlines the importance of arrangements in seventeenth-century French harpsichord music. But a closer look at the source also reveals a variety of genres that vividly demonstrate the harpsichord’s multifarious roles: it can play its own music, it can accompany, it can play orchestral music, and it can even play vocal music. The Menetou manuscript provides a clear window into the vibrant music culture at the court of Louis XIV and into the great diversity of musical styles that were enjoyed at the time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-436
Number of pages30
JournalRevue de Musicologie
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Music


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