Gossec, François Joseph

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Gossec, François Joseph

(fräNswä` zhôzĕf` gôsĕk`), 1734–1829, Belgian composer; pupil of Rameau. In 1784 he organized the École Royale de Chant and taught (1795–1816) composition at its successor school, the Paris Conservatory. Enthusiastic about the French Revolution, he wrote many works to celebrate patriotic events, such as a Te Deum for 1,200 singers and 300 wind instruments. Among his works are chamber music, more than 30 symphonies, and many operas. His clarity of form and innovations in orchestral color strongly influenced the development of French instrumental music.

Gossec, François Joseph

 

Born Jan. 17, 1734, in the village of Vergnies, Hainault Province, Belgium; died Feb. 16, 1829, in Passy, near Paris. French composer. Member of the Institut de France (1795).

Of Belgian origin, Gossec was the son of a peasant. Beginning in 1751 he lived in Paris, where he worked as a choirmaster and directed the Amateur Concerts Society, which he founded in 1770 and reorganized as the Sacred Concerts Society in 1773. In 1784 he founded the Royal School of Singing and Declamation, on the basis of which the National Music Institute was organized in 1793. (In 1795 the institute became a conservatory.) Gossec was a professor and one of the inspectors at the Paris Conservatory when the Bourbons were restored in 1816. A confirmed republican, he was dismissed from his position.

Gossec was a precursor of the French symphony; he wrote 29 symphonies, the first in 1754. The greatest music figure of the Great French Revolution, he was the conductor of the band of the National Guard. Gossec wrote a great number of musical compositions for popular revolutionary festivals and processions, hymns (“Eulogy of the Federation”), songs (“Song of July 14”), and monumental works for brass bands (for example, a symphony, a Te Deum, and a funeral march), which are imbued with revolutionary and patriotic spirit. Among Gossec’s operas (about 20) are Sabinus (1773), Theseus (1782), The Triumph of the Republic, or the Camp at Grandpré (1793), and a series of comic operas. Gossec also wrote oratorios, masses, quartets, and methodical textbooks on music theory.

REFERENCES

Tiercot, J. Pesni i prazdnestva Frantsuzskoi revoliutsii. Moscow,1933. (Translated from French.)
Radiguer, H. Muzykanty epokhi Velikoi frantsuzskoi revolïutsii. Moscow, 1937. (Translated from French.)
Prod’homme, J. F. J. Gossec. Paris, 1949.

B. S. STEINPRESS