Jean-Philippe Rameau Quotes
Jean-Philippe Rameau was a French composer and music theorist of the 18th century. He was almost fifty years of age before he started his career in opera music. His debut, Hippolyte et Aricie, was something very different and was attacked by the supporters of Lully’s style of music for Rameau’s use of harmony. Rameau is best known today for his harpsichord music, operas, and other works as well as being a music theorist.
“Voltaire relating to his libretto for Rameau’s opera, Samson: “As far as opera is concerned, after the still-birth of Samson, there is no indication that I might wish to write another. The labor pains of the first have scarred me too deeply.”-Voltaire
“With a single stroke Rameau destroyed everything Lully had spent years in constructing: the proud, chauvinistic and complacent union of the French around one and the same cultural object, the offspring of his and Quinault’s genius. Then suddenly the Ramelian aesthetic played havoc with the confidence of the French in their patrimony, assaulted their national opera that they hoped was unchangeable.”-Sophie Bouissou
“Old Lully is simple, natural, even, too even sometimes, and this is a defect. Young Rameau is singular, brilliant, complex, learned, too learned sometimes, but this is perhaps a defect on the listeners.”-Diderot
“From the extreme dreaminess of the original Act IV, the tragic lament of Iphise and… of Dardanus on the one hand, to the martial or demoniac power of the duet of Act I, the magician’s chorus, the fury chorus, ‘Dardanus gemit’ and… ‘Le despoir et la rage,’ in Act III… there runs a tremendous range of feeling and all points along the scale are marked by first-rate music.”-Cuthbert Girdlestone
“Poor Rameau is mad… Rameau is as great an eccentric as he is a musician.”-Voltaire
“Emphasis on the common emotive or affective origins of music and words in the first cries of humankind undermines words.”-Jean-Phillipe Rameau
“Nature endows us with the feeling that moves us in all our musical experiences; we might call her gift instinct.”–Jean-Phillipe Rameau
“If I were twenty years younger, I would go to Italy, and take Pergolesi for my model, abandon something of my harmony and devote myself to attaining truth of declamation, which should be the sole guide of musicians. But after sixty-one [I] cannot change; experience points plainly enough to best course, but the mind refuses to obey.”–Jean-Phillipe Rameau
“Rhythm and sounds are born with syllables.”–Jean-Phillipe Rameau
“Emphasis on the common emotive or affective origins of music and words in the first cries of humankind undermines words.”–Jean-Phillipe Rameau
“I have been a follower of the stage since I was twelve years old. I only began work on an opera when I was fifty, I still didn’t think I was capable; I tried my hand, I was lucky, I continued.”–Jean-Phillipe Rameau
“The imagination is worn out in my old head, it’s not wise at this age wanting to practice arts that are nothing but imagination.”–Jean-Phillipe Rameau
To read the full bio of composer Jean-Philippe Rameau, click this link.