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Marais Marin - Pieces from Pieces de Violes

Marais Marin - Pieces from

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Marais Marin – Pieces from “Pieces de Violes”

Marin Marais was the central figure in the French school of bass-viol composers and performers that flourished during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. He spent his entire life in Paris, and the greater part of it in royal service. First appointed as Ordinaire de la Musique de la Chambre du Roi in 1685, he retained that post through-out the reign of Louis XIV and from 1715 to 1725 served under the Regency and Louis XV. His contemporaries recognized him as an out-standing performer and a composer of stature whose works for viols and the operatic stage were known beyond the boundaries of France.

These barest of facts represent almost the entire body of readily available information concerning a musician who was a major figure in French music during his lifetime. Little else about Marais’ life, and even less about his music, has appeared in print. Music historians from Hawkins and Burney to the present have accorded him passing mention, at least, and some have, albeit cautiously, extolled the excellence of his works. In addition, the revival of interest in the viols and, concurrently, an occasional performance of a piece by Marais have focused attention on Marais and his contemporaries, who represent the final flowering of the literature for these once indispensable instruments. Still, the poverty of information persists. This seems particularly curious since the period in which he lived produced some of the most important developments in the history of string music.

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