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François Couperin's harpsichord music and the Parisian public sphere [electronic resource] / Byron Neil Sartain.



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Sartain, Byron Neil.
Publication date:
  • Book, Thesis
  • 1 online resource.
Submitted to the Department of Music.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2013.
This study salvages François Couperin's eighteenth-century reception from 78 manuscripts containing copies, transcriptions, and altered versions of his harpsichord music. These sources reveal that Couperin's audience knew and appreciated him mainly as a composer of light, charming pieces that spread haphazardly across the public music circuit. This contrasts surprisingly with his reception today, which prizes his richly textured pieces and sophisticated dances instead. The dissertation is organized in four sections supplemented by an extensive inventory of the manuscript sources. The introductory chapter accounts for the disparity between our Couperin and theirs by chronicling Couperin's legacy, focusing primarily on his place in J. S. Bach's first hundred years of posthumous reception and in Debussy's defense of the French Baroque. The second chapter establishes the group of Couperin's pieces that circulated as part of the brunette tradition of popular tunes in his time. It also addresses the thorny issue of dates for Couperin's music and presents previously unknown pieces attributable to the composer. The third chapter contains three case studies that illustrate contrasting conceptions of work identity in the public production and reception of Couperin's music. Here I argue that the dissemination of his popular pieces vividly illustrates a kind of socially configured work concept that Reinhard Strohm claims was operative before the era of the Beethovenian opus. The closing chapter then explores the plurality of social and musical ends that Couperin's music appears to have met in eighteenth-century Europe. Jürgen Habermas's claims about the origins of the public sphere are shown to provide a working framework for the various purposes that steered Couperin's musical efforts.
Berger, Karol, 1947- primary advisor.
Grey, Thomas S., advisor.
Moroney, Davitt, advisor.
Rodin, Jesse, advisor.
Stanford University. Department of Music.

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