Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

January 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Craig Monson


French accompanied keyboard music published between the late 1730s and early 1760s generally contains a written-out keyboard part with one or more accompanying instruments. In this genre we find, for the first time, that the keyboard plays an equal, if not the more dominant, role in ensemble chamber music. This repertory has been largely misunderstood and underappreciated because it has frequently been evaluated, not on its own terms, but in terms of accompanied collections from other regions and also in terms of the substantial and substantially different repertories of keyboard music with optional accompanying instrument(s) that flooded the market during the second half of the eighteenth century. My study attempts to illustrate the distinctive qualities of this early French accompanied repertory and to highlight its relationship to the fascination with mixed style by French composers, the public, critics, and philosophers. Together, these groups formulated an aesthetic of goûts réunis, which encouraged composers to adhere chiefly to the French tradition, while experimenting with the tasteful incorporation of Italianate virtuosity, bold harmonic language, and form. This ideal of style mixture made French accompanied keyboard music distinctively French, characterized by a rich variety of internal details, elegant restraints, noble simplicity and clarity, a tasteful blend of French delicateness and sweetness with Italianate learnedness and boldness, never taken to excess. Two early examples of this repertory by Mondonville and Rameau provided important prototypes for subsequent French accompanied sets. Mondonville's Op. 3 illustrates a strong leaning toward the Italian sonata tradition, while Rameau's Concerts show greater affinity to the French pièces de clavecintradition. The surprising invocation of la belle nature in Mondonville's dedicatory note to his Op. 3 established, as I suggest, an intriguing link between the important new aesthetic theory and the fashionable musical concept of goûts réunis. My study shows that composers of this repertory conveyed the notion of goûts réunis by skillfully utilizing all the elements of the aural, the visual: verbal markings), and the intellectual: structural organization) to create a unified ensemble appealing both to the senses and to the mind: an artistic objective that was quintessentially French.


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