ISSN: 1089-747X
Copyright © 1995–2012 by the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music

Volume 7, no. 1:

Shirley Thompson*

Reflections on Four Charpentier Chronologies


To date, four scholars have attempted to establish a chronology of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s works. The present article reviews the methods used to draw up each of these chronologies and, for the first time, puts them side-by-side, allowing various observations to be made and conclusions drawn. Whereas three chronologies seek to establish dates of composition, the fourth establishes dates of copying. This crucial distinction helps explain apparent discrepancies between them, and shows that the former three are more relevant where Charpentier’s stylistic development is concerned, while the fourth is more trustworthy on matters of his evolving notational and performance practices.

1.  Introduction

2.  Construction of the Meslanges autographes

3.  The Chronologies

4.  The Chronologies of Charpentier’s cahiers Compared

5.  Commentary

6.  Evidence Supporting a Chronology Based on Dates of Copying

7.  Chronology of Other Autograph Material

8.  Conclusion


1. Introduction

1.1 Establishing a chronology of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s works is no easy task, given that none of his autograph scores—and there are well over 500 of them—is dated. Only two manuscript sources carry a date, in neither instance in the composer’s own hand: a set of parts for the hymn Regina coeli (H32b) located in the Archives des Augustines du Monastère de l’Hôtel Dieu, Quebec, contains the annotation “Mr Charpantier [sic] de musique en notre college a Paris 1689” (i.e. the Jesuit college Louis-le-Grand), while a scrap of paper pinned to the separate parts of the dramatic motet Judicium Salomonis (H422a) gives the date 1702.1

1.2 The formulation of a chronology for Charpentier’s works is therefore reliant both on clues found in the manuscripts themselves and on external evidence. To date, four scholars have attempted the task: H. Wiley Hitchcock, Catherine Cessac, Jane Lowe and Patricia Ranum.2  It is not the intention of the present article to establish a fifth, definitive chronology; rather, it seeks to review the methods used to draw up each of the existing chronologies and, for the first time, to put all four side-by-side, allowing various important observations to be made and conclusions drawn.3

1.3 The first part of this study is concerned with the principal source of Charpentier’s autograph scores—the twenty-eight volumes of the so-called Meslanges autographes.4  The latter part considers the dating of other autograph sources.

2.  Construction of the Meslanges autographes

2.1 All the chronologies rely to a large extent on the way the Meslanges autographes is constructed. Prior to binding, these manuscripts took the form of 134 gatherings or, as Charpentier called them, cahiers. All but six of these cahiers fall into two series, one numbered by Charpentier with arabic numerals (1–75), the other with roman numerals (I–LXXV), though some cahiers are missing from both series.5  The remaining six are known as “problematic” cahiers (a term first coined by Hitchcock), since they do not appear to form part of either series;6 they are generally identified as follows: “I”, “II”, [a], [b], [c], [d]. The cahiers were sold to the Bibliothèque du roi in 1727 by Charpentier’s nephew and inheritor, Jacques Edouard. They were bound into the current twenty-eight volumes, after which pages were numbered with a haphazard mixture of foliation and pagination.7

3.  The Chronologies

3.1 H. Wiley Hitchcock (1982). Hitchcock’s pioneering chronology has formed the basis of all subsequent attempts to date Charpentier’s works. It is based on two main, unassailable premises. First, that the cahiers of the Meslanges autographes were numbered by Charpentier in chronological order. Hitchcock argues that the composer needed to do this because of the large number of instances where cahiers end mid-way through a composition, thus determining which cahier should follow (since it contains the remainder of that work). Furthermore, in instances where a verbal clue at the end of a given cahier indicates the one which was intended to come next, the two cahiers are indeed numbered successively. Second, Hitchcock establishes that the two series of cahiers (arabic and roman) were produced concurrently rather than in turn. This is demonstrated by the fact that both series contain works which, by being linked with external events, are found between them to date from all periods of the composer’s career. This external evidence includes the account books of the Comédie-Française (which give dates of performances involving Charpentier’s music), datable events such as the changes to the Parisian breviary (1680) or the death of the queen (1683), and the association of performers named in the scores with particular establishments and thus with a particular period in Charpentier’s life. Having drawn up an outline chronology on the basis of such evidence, Hitchcock slots in the remaining cahiers, maintaining the chronological sequence in both series. Since the “problematic” cahiers do not form part of either series, he considers them separately, suggesting dates according to their content.8

3.2 Catherine Cessac (1988). Cessac accepts Hitchcock’s conclusion that the cahiers were numbered in chronological order. Like Hitchcock, she begins assigning dates to works by establishing secure links with external events and by identifying performers named in the scores. She then takes a further step, suggesting connections between sacred works and particular liturgical feasts. In addition, she takes into account research by Ranum which proposes dates for some pieces on the basis of events involving the Guise family, one of Charpentier’s main patrons.9  Cessac herself attempts to formulate a more specific chronology for those works which can be broadly assigned to the period when Charpentier was employed by the Jesuits: she speculates about which works might have been performed at particular Jesuit ceremonies, largely with reference to reports in the Mercure Galant and Gazette de France.

3.3 Jane Lowe (1991). Lowe approaches the problem through a detailed study of Charpentier’s handwriting, particularly an examination of changes in his clef formation. This results in a chronology which suggests dates of copying rather than of composition. Such a distinction had not previously been made by Hitchcock or Cessac. While Lowe’s work lends support to the general proposition that both series of cahiers were compiled concurrently, her identification of various stages in the development of Charpentier’s handwriting from early to late styles leads her to conclude that each series as it survives was not copied from beginning to end in chronological order. For example, she reveals numerous instances where the outer folio of a cahier comprises more stylistically mature handwriting than the rest; in these cases, it is logical to conclude that the outer sheet was recopied at a later date to replace a lost or damaged original. Lowe has also identified whole cahiers which appear to have been copied at some other date (in most cases later) than neighboring ones, including some which end in mid-composition. As a result, she moves twenty cahiers out of the accepted numerical sequence. Lowe assigns dates to the “problematic” cahiers on the basis of both handwriting and content.10

3.4 Patricia Ranum (1994). An important element in the establishment of Ranum’s chronology is an examination of the many different paper types used by Charpentier, and she makes a strong case for the significance of watermarks in Charpentier’s manuscripts. Since the composer often changed paper type, the occasional appearance of the same paper in arabic and roman cahiers of the same period confirms that the two series were compiled concurrently. And if this was the case, Ranum’s hypothesis that at least until 1687 (and probably beyond) Charpentier used the two series for different purposes seems plausible; she proposes that he copied works commissioned by his current principal employer into the arabic series and those intended for other patrons into the roman series. The use of the same paper type in adjacent or nearby cahiers in the same series lends further credibility to the idea that they were numbered in chronological order; only in a couple of instances does Ranum suggest that cahiers appear slightly out of sequence: she proposes that cahier IX should interrupt cahier VI and that cahiers XXIII and XXIV should be in reverse order.11  Thus Ranum’s research leads her to agree with Hitchcock’s chronology in general, though for the period 1670–87 she suggests more precise dates for each cahier, taking into account the evidence of securely datable cahiers, the liturgical calendar and, above all, events in the lives of the Guise family which she has researched extensively.12  Since few links can be established between Charpentier’s music and datable events from 1688 onwards, Ranum’s chronology for this period is inevitably more sketchy. Ranum is able to suggest dates for “problematic” cahiers not only on the grounds of their content, but also by reasoning that they must be contemporary with instances of the same paper type found in the two series of cahiers.13

3.5 As will emerge, the distinction between the date of composition (Hitchcock, Cessac and Ranum) and the date of copying (Lowe) is an important one.14  It seems entirely plausible—even before we consider the evidence—that, in the process of recopying some of his scores (presumably for new performances), Charpentier would have made some changes to bring them up to date, particularly with regard to matters of performance practice. If so, in the case of a score which we know to have been recopied, we cannot assume that a particular labeling or notational feature was present in the original version. In turn, we cannot assume that a particular labeling or notational feature was in use at the date of composition; we can only be certain that it was in use at the time when the surviving source was copied.

4.  The Chronologies of Charpentier’s cahiers Compared

4.1 Table 1 shows all four chronologies alongside each other. The following points clarify how the table has been compiled:

  • In Hitchcock’s case, dates for cahiers in Table 1 are given just as they appear in the table in the Introduction to his Catalogue.15
  • In her “Tableau chronologique” Cessac assigns dates to individual works; for cahiers given under her name in Table 1 the dates (in some cases comprising month and year) have been calculated accordingly.
  • In the chronologies of Ranum and Lowe some individual cahiers are not actually dated, but simply listed between two cahiers which are. In these instances the date of the cahier in question is shown in Table 1 as being between the two given dates, or in the case of the arabic cahiers in the early part of Lowe’s chronology, “1670s”. While such dates are vague, they clearly give some indication of where a cahier falls within a particular chronology.
  • Those cahiers moved out of sequence by Lowe are shown in bold in Table 1.
  • Lowe suggests that the cahier identified conjecturally as [LVII] by Hitchcock and the other scholars is actually the missing cahier LXVII (“on the basis of evidence found in the manuscripts”).16
  • Where the “problematic” cahiers are concerned, Cessac, Ranum and Lowe make the following broadly similar observations:
    •  Cessac suggests that the “problematic” cahier [d] might be the missing cahier LII.
    • Lowe claims that “various pieces of evidence, including the style of handwriting” support the notion that cahier [d] may have been cahier LII or LIII.17
    • Ranum observes that the content of cahiers [a] and [d] may identify them as the missing cahiers LII and LIII. She also suggests that cahier “II” might be the missing cahier 48, as it uses the same paper as 46, 47 and contemporary roman cahiers.

5. Commentary

5.1 Table 1 shows that, in most cases, all four scholars agree on the (approximate) date of a given cahier. Where a significant discrepancy emerges, it is between the date of copying suggested by Lowe and the date of composition suggested by the others. Clearly, both dates may be equally valid and equally important in any study of the composer’s music. However, it would seem likely that particular areas of research will be more reliant on one than the other. Thus in a study of stylistic aspects of Charpentier’s music, the suggested date of composition will probably have most relevance. Yet in an examination of the composer’s notational or performance practice habits, the suggested date of copying is likely to be paramount.

5.2 While Hitchcock, Cessac and Ranum largely corroborate each other in determining dates of composition, additional support for Lowe’s suggested dates of copying has emerged from my own study of Charpentier’s notational and performance practices. Lowe herself has clearly demonstrated that Charpentier’s handwriting changed during his lifetime. Indeed, a feature of the composer’s notation in general is its inconsistency from one period of his life to another; he seems to have gone through phases where he preferred to set things out in one way rather than another. As Lowe points out, for instance, labeling of first and second soloists in his early works tends to take the form “1” and “2”, whereas in later scores we find “Pr/Pre” and “Sd/Sde”.18  If Lowe’s chronology is applied, it tends to reveal patterns with regard to Charpentier’s notational and performance procedures. Such patterns do not necessarily emerge if the other chronologies—indicating dates of composition rather than of copying—are used. Taken individually, the following supplementary pieces of evidence might seem insubstantial. Together, however, they provide considerable support for Lowe’s proposed chronology.19

6. Evidence supporting a chronology based on dates of copying

6.1 For most of the 26 autograph scores in which the basson is specified, scholars give a date of 1679 or later. However, Hitchcock, Cessac and Ranum agree that three works—H3, H161, H514—date from earlier. Lowe, on the other hand, proposes that these pieces were actually copied after 1685. Given that the true basson—with four joints and (initially) three keys—was a recent development at the end of the seventeenth century, the notion that Charpentier specified it only in scores copied from 1679 onwards, as Lowe’s chronology suggests, is entirely plausible.20

6.2 According to all four chronologies, most of the thirty autograph scores in which Charpentier specifies the hautbois date from 1679 or later. However, for two of the three works agreed by Hitchcock, Cessac and Ranum to date from earlier than this (H145 and H514), Lowe suggests a later date of copying. The result is that, according to the latter’s chronology, all but one of the scores containing the indication “hautbois” were copied from 1679 onwards. This pattern is supported by what we know about the instrument at this time: Bruce Haynes has convincingly demonstrated that, following a gradual evolution during the seventeenth century, “the definitive oboe” was established only around 1680.21  The exceptional work is H513, Messe pour plusieurs instruments au lieu des orgues, which all commentators place earlier in the 1670s. It may be significant that Charpentier specifies a number of “unusual” instruments in this work, including the cromorne and various non-standard members of the flûte family (e.g. “octave”, “flute douce en taille”, “basse de flute”). Given the unusual nature of the work, it is perhaps not surprising to find reference to an instrument which otherwise appears in scores copied rather later; indeed, given that the term “hautbois” existed before the “modern” instrument emerged, it is possible that in the context of this earlier and unique work Charpentier had in mind one of its predecessors.

6.3 Charpentier specifies organ registration in eight works (H3, H8, H78, H148, H397, H413, H422, H534). According to Lowe, all these scores were copied after 1680. No such pattern arises in the other three chronologies, where two of the works (H3 and H397) are assigned earlier dates.

6.4 In the scores of sixty-two sacred works Charpentier indicates that the chord playing continuo instrument should be joined by one or more melodic doubling instruments, either by specifying the instrument(s) in question, or by such annotations as “et basse continue” and “et accomp”, or by other clues in the score. According to Hitchcock’s chronology, fifteen of these works pre-date 1680; according to Cessac’s and Ranum’s, twelve fall into this category. However, if Lowe’s chronology is applied, only one work indicating multiple continuo instruments was copied before 1680 (and then only just). In other words, in her chronology a clearer connection emerges between the specification of a larger continuo group and works copied later in Charpentier’s career. It is certainly credible that in the process of recopying earlier works the composer adapted his original continuo instrumentation to reflect an increasing use of doubling instruments.

6.5 Charpentier uses the indication “accompagnement seul” (frequently abbreviated to “accomp seul” or “acc seul”) in around seventy scores. It normally indicates that the bass line should be played by the full continuo group.22  Hitchcock, Cessac, Ranum and Lowe agree that most of the cahiers in which these scores appear date from fairly late in Charpentier’s career. What is remarkable, though, is that the few cahiers assigned to the 1670s and early 1680s by the first three scholars (cahiers 33, 39, VI, VII, IX–XI, XIX) are given a later date of copying by Lowe, in all but one instance post-1685. Thus according to Lowe, with just one exception, “acc seul” appears only in cahiers copied in 1685 or later.

6.6 Seven works located in the successive cahiers LXI, LXII and LXIII and in “problematic” cahier [c] (all of which are bound in Volumes XXIV and XXV) suggest that Charpentier went through a phase quite late in his career of employing such annotations as “R”, “Recit”, “duo”, and “trio” in the continuo lines of his full scores. However, isolated instances of such terms—apparently intended as an indication to the continuo player(s) of the forces being accompanied at a given point—occur in a handful of scores located elsewhere: H10 (cahier LXVIII), H147 (cahier 64), H160 (cahier IX), H162 (cahier XI), H200 (cahier 54). In the chronologies of Hitchcock, Cessac and Ranum two of these cahiers are given considerably earlier dates than the others: IX and XI are placed in the early 1670s, the other three in the late 1680s and 1690s. Lowe, however, suggests that cahiers IX and XI were copied much later—after 1685. In her chronology, then, all the isolated instances of these annotations are brought closer in date not only to each other but also to those examples in cahiers LXI, LXII, LXIII and [c].

6.7 The term “sourdines” (or a derivative) occurs in twenty-seven autograph scores. There is some debate as to whether the composer always intended this direction in its modern sense—to signal the use of physical mutes—or if he sometimes used it to indicate a manner of playing softly, “as if muted”.23  Scholars agree that twenty-five of the works in question date from the mid-1680s onwards. But while Hitchcock, Cessac and Ranum place the remaining two (H145 and H161) in the early 1670s, Lowe suggests a much later date of copying (after 1685), thus placing them in line chronologically with the other scores in which this annotation appears. Again, a pattern emerges in her chronology which does not exist in the others. It allows all instances of the term in Charpentier’s scores to postdate its appearance in Lully’s Le triomphe de l’Amour of 1681, where it does seem that actual mutes were intended.24  It is certainly conceivable that, having begun using the indication quite late in life, Charpentier added it retrospectively to two early works in the process of recopying them.

6.8 Void quarter and eighth notes, a remnant of late Medieval mensural notation, occur throughout Charpentier’s autographs.25  These so-called croches blanches always appear in triple time, most frequently in association with the time signature C|3/2, but also with 3/2 on numerous occasions. It seems as if the composer went through phases of using various combinations of C|3/2 and 3/2 and normal or void notation: many individual cahiers adhere to one particular permutation, and this is often true of successive cahiers. Cahiers making more use of void notation in 3/2 are largely late ones, a cluster of them agreed by commentators to date from the 1690s. Since this combination is a feature of cahier 33, the later date assigned to it by Lowe than by the other scholars thus seems convincing (she proposes a copying date between 1686 and 1699 while they suggest a date of composition in the early 1680s).

6.9 The sum of this evidence gives increased credibility to Lowe’s chronology based on dates of copying. It also supports the notion that, in the process of recopying early works, Charpentier adapted them to incorporate aspects of his notational and performance practices current at the time of the new performance.

7. Chronology of Other Autograph Material

7.1 A handful of sources other than the Meslanges autographes contain autograph material by Charpentier.26  Commentators have proposed dates on the basis of various information; those suggested by Hitchcock, Cessac and Ranum are given in Table 2.

7.2 It was observed above that the separate parts of Regina coeli (H32b) and Judicium Salomonis (H422a) actually bear a date (i.e. 1689 and 1702 respectively). Ranum believes that 1689 is a plausible date for the former, given that the source contains some paper bearing a watermark which she links with the Jesuits;27 the same paper type appears in cahiers of the Meslanges which date from this time, a period when Charpentier was employed by the Jesuits. Paper type has also led Ranum to her suggested date of 1677–80 for the source Rés. Vmc. Ms. 2828  (refined  to 1679–1680 in her more recent publication; see note 13). The appearance of the annotation “Pieche” in the volume Rés. Vmc. Ms. 27 links the seven works in it with the Dauphin (another of Charpentier’s patrons), since this was the family name of a number of musicians associated with the Dauphin’s musical establishment; these works have been dated accordingly by Cessac and Ranum as “beginning 1680s?” and “1679–80” respectively. The dates assigned by Hitchcock and Ranum to the sets of parts H11a and H487a match those suggested by these scholars for the corresponding full scores, located in the Meslanges: Hitchcock proposes “1699?” and “1685–6” respectively, while Ranum gives “August 1702” and “1685”. The set H485a has been dated on the assumption that the parts were prepared for the specific event mentioned in the work’s title—La Feste de Rüel, performed in 1685.29  Cessac dates the manuscript parts of the Sonate (H548) as “c.1685” on the grounds that they were deposited in the library with the set H487a and seem to be contemporaneous with it.30

7.3 In the absence of any discussion of these manuscripts by Lowe, the present author has examined aspects of the handwriting involved to see whether this sheds any light on the dates at which they were copied. In the case of four of the sets of parts for which there are corresponding full scores in the Meslanges (H32b, H422a, H485a, H487a), Charpentier’s use of the same form of G and C clefs in both sources supports the notion that in each instance score and parts were copied more or less contemporaneously (as suggested in Table 2). However, in the case of the set H11a (the Mass Assumpta est Maria), one of the autograph parts uses a more “modern” G clef than is found either elsewhere in the parts or in the score;31 it actually uses the form of clef which appears throughout the score and parts of H422. This single part might therefore have been contemporaneous with H422 and H422a, and thus copied at the date which Ranum proposes for the set H11a as a whole (i.e. 1702). Meanwhile, the appearance of an older form of G clef in the other autograph dessus parts of the Mass suggests that these were prepared slightly earlier, perhaps closer to the date proposed by Hitchcock for both the score and parts (“?1699”).32

7.4 In Rés. Vmc. Ms. 27 and Rés. Vmc. Ms. 28 the G and C clefs seem comparable with those used by the composer in the late 1670s and around 1680, strengthening the reliability of the dates suggested for these sources in Table 2. However, the type of C clef which appears in the Sonate parts (H548) is one which Charpentier began to use from around the early 1690s. Thus while this work may well have been composed as a companion piece to Les arts florissants in the mid-1680s (as Ranum and Sadie suggest), it seems more likely that the parts were copied later. The fact that the two sources are copied on different paper further weakens the case that they were copied contemporaneously.33

8. Conclusion

8.1 In recent decades, Charpentier’s huge output has attracted increasing attention on the part of scholars and performers alike. Nevertheless, there is much that we still have to learn about the Meslanges. As we move towards the composer’s tercentenary in 2004 there will certainly be attempts to consider afresh some of the thorny issues relating to the nature of these autographs, and the question of chronology will undoubtedly be revisited. The present article aims to provide a useful research tool, both in reconciling apparent discrepancies among the four existing chronologies, and in confirming that, taken on their own terms, each has its own validity. Those of Hitchcock, Cessac and Ranum are clearly of most relevance to a study of Charpentier’s stylistic development while Lowe’s is more pertinent to a study of the composer’s evolving notational and performance practices. While this latter chronology stands alone in being concerned with dates of copying rather than of composition, the present article increases its credibility by drawing attention to numerous patterns in the composer’s notation and labeling that emerge when it is applied.


* Shirley Thompson (, a Lecturer in Music at Birmingham Conservatoire, England, completed her Ph.D. on performance practice in Charpentier’s music in 1997. She has prepared numerous performing editions of Charpentier, and has contributed to the Basler Jahrbuch für Historische Musikpraxis, Early Music, the Bulletin de la Société Marc-Antoine Charpentier, and the revised New Grove.
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1. The Quebec source (classmark T 11 C925) is discussed and partly reproduced in Andrée Desautels, “Un manuscrit autographe de M.-A. Charpentier à Québec,” Recherches sur la musique française classique 21 (1983): 118–27. The separate parts of Judicium Salomonis are located in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris (F-Pn, Vm1 1481). In the course of this article, individual works are identified by the “H” number assigned to them in H. Wiley Hitchcock, Les oeuvres de/The Works of Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Catalogue raisonné, La vie musicale en France sous les rois Bourbons (Paris: Picard, 1982).
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2. Hitchcock, Catalogue, 23–36; Catherine Cessac, Marc-Antoine Charpentier (Paris: Fayard, 1988), 463–525 (English translation by E. Thomas Glasow [Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press, 1995], 412–85); C. Jane Lowe, “The Psalm Settings of Marc-Antoine Charpentier” (Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge University, 1991), 1: 2–17; Patricia Ranum, Vers une chronologie des oeuvres de Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Les papiers employés par le compositeur: un outil pour l’étude de sa production et de sa vie (Baltimore: Author, 1994), especially 30–3. See also note 8 and note13 below for other sources of Hitchcock’s and Ranum’s chronologies.
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3. An earlier version of this article appears in Shirley Thompson, “The Autograph Manuscripts of Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Clues to Performance” (Ph.D. thesis, University of Hull, 1997), 1: 23–35.
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4. F-Pn, Rés. Vm1 259.
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5. Those missing from the arabic series: 48, 51–3, 65, 67–9, 71–3 and any cahiers there may have been after 75; those missing from the roman series: XX–XXII, XL, LII–LIII, LVI, LIX, LXVII, LXXI–LXXIII and any cahiers after LXXV. The two series will be identified hereafter as “arabic” and “roman” respectively, though it should be noted that some writers identify the former as “French”, following the description “partitions chiffre françois” in the Memoire des ouvrages de musique latine et françoise de défunt M.r Charpentier (F-Pn, Rés. Vmb. Ms. 71), an annotated inventory of Charpentier’s manuscripts prepared in 1726, shortly before they were sold to the royal library.
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6. Hitchcock, Catalogue, 25. It has since been suggested that three of these “problematic” cahiers may simply be cahiers missing from the arabic and roman series (see below).
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7. The date of binding is established in Patricia M. Ranum, “Meslanges, Mélanges, Cabinet, Recueil, Ouvrages: L’entrée des manuscrits de Marc-Antoine Charpentier à la Bibliothèque du Roi,” Bulletin de la Société Marc-Antoine Charpentier 9 (1993): 2–9 (p.3).
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8. Since the publication of his Catalogue, Hitchcock’s chronology has reappeared in the work lists of his articles on Charpentier in The New Grove French Baroque Masters, The Composer Biography Series, ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 1986), 71–116, and The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians: Second Edition, ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 2001), 5: 504–29. Dates given for individual works in these lists correspond both to each other and to those in the Catalogue, with one exception: in the most recent list: Hitchcock gives a date of “?1686” for H488 rather than “?mid 1680s.” While this more precise date may at first sight suggest a revision in line with other scholars’ work, it actually reflects a statement made by Hitchcock himself in his Catalogue (p.35), that this work “dates from around 1686–7.” While the New Grove work lists are useful for quick reference, it should be noted that both omit the many separately catalogued instrumental preludes added to vocal works at a later date.
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9. The relevant research by Ranum is discussed below (see note 12).
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10. It is interesting to note that the practice of recopying may also have occurred during the preparation of some of the manuscripts of Charpentier’s contemporary, Lalande; see Lionel Sawkins’s discussion of the motet collection F-V, Ms mus 8–17 in “The Sacred Music of Michel-Richard de Lalande 1657–1726” (Ph.D. dissertation, London University, 1993), 91–101.
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11. For an explanation of the former, see the internet reference in note 13 below; the latter is explained in Ranum, Vers une chronologie, 34.
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12. Vers une chronologie, 38–9. See also Patricia M. Ranum, “A sweet servitude: A musician’s life at the Court of Mlle de Guise,” Early Music 15 (1987): 346–60.
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13. Ranum has recently begun to publish on-line her chronology of Charpentier’s works for the period during which the composer was associated with the Guises (i.e. 1670–1688); at the time of writing, she has covered the years 1670–80 (Three Interlocking Chronologies, 1670–1688, <>). Comparison with the chronology of cahiers in Vers une chronologie reveals some refinements (for example, the first few roman cahiers are dated 1670 in the earlier publication, while Ranum’s latest suggestion is that these probably contain works dating from late 1669). However, none of these has the effect of moving a cahier out of the sequence originally suggested by Ranum.
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14. Though published more recently, Ranum’s study makes no reference to Lowe’s work. A comparison of both these chronologies reveals that those cahiers which Lowe moves out of the chronological sequence remain in relatively close proximity to others in the same or parallel series which use the same paper. And on the basis of what she knew about Ranum’s still unpublished research into paper types at the time of her thesis, Lowe (“Psalm Settings,” 1: 10) concluded that her chronology remained undamaged.
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15. Catalogue, 34. The dates assigned to individual works later in the Catalogue nearly all correspond to Hitchcock’s dating of the cahiers that contain them, though there are one or two discrepancies: for instance, he gives a date of “1681–2” for H399a, but “1679” for the cahier in which it appears (XXIII), and “1687–97” for H336a, but “?late 1680s” for cahier LVIII which contains it.
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16. Lowe, “Psalm Settings,” 1: 10. Lowe does not elaborate on this statement.
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17. Lowe, “Psalm Settings,” 1: 8. Lowe’s comment about the “style of handwriting” is clarified by a table earlier in her thesis: “Chronology of the compilation of the ‘Mélanges autographes’” (1: 4–6); here she indicates that the style of G and C clefs in cahier [d] is comparable with that in cahiers LI and LIV (an observation supported by my own examination of the manuscripts), thus suggesting that they were copied during roughly the same period. Lowe also points out that both cahier [d] and cahier LI contain works intended for the convent Port Royal; this may add further weight to the suggestion that they originated in close proximity to each other.
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18. Lowe, “Psalm Settings,” 1: 16.
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19. For further discussion of each of these points see Thompson, “Autograph Manuscripts,” chapters 5, 7, 8, 18, 20.
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20. The date at which the definitive basson emerged remains vague. According to William Waterhouse, “Bassoon,” in The New Grove Dictionary of Instruments, ed. Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 1984), 1: 176–91 (pp.179, 183), the earliest source for the four-jointed bassoon is a painting attributed to Harmen Hals, who died in 1669. Other commentators speculate about the date at which the “baroque” instrument emerged, though without providing any supporting evidence. For instance, Anthony Baines, Woodwind Instruments and their History, 2nd ed. (London: Faber, 1962), 286, considers that it may have been in use in the 1660s. And Alan Lumsden, “Part One: The Baroque Era. IV Woodwind and Brass,” in Performance Practice: Music after 1600, The New Grove Handbooks in Music, ed. Howard Mayer Brown and Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 1989; reprint 1990), 80–96 (p.88), comments that the “true bassoon” is likely to have been produced “by at least the 1670s”. That the instrument had become established by the end of the century is demonstrated not only by Charpentier’s manuscripts, but also by Lalande’s adventurous writing for it in his Deuxième Fantaisie et Caprice, a work which can be dated no later than 1695; see Lionel Sawkins, “Rameau’s Last Years: Some Implications of Re-discovered Material at Bordeaux,” Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association 111 (1984–5): 66–91 (p.84), and the same author’s Thematic Catalogue of the Works of Michel-Richard de Lalande 1657–1726 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, in press).
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21. Bruce Haynes, “Lully and the rise of the oboe as seen in works of art,” Early Music 16 (1988): 324–38 (pp.324, 336, note1). See also Rebecca Harris-Warrick, “A few thoughts on Lully’s hautbois,” Early Music 18 (1990): 97–106.
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22. Hitchcock (Catalogue, 134) suggests that “acc seul” indicates “a minimal continuo group . . . as opposed to a full one.” However, the weight of evidence in the Meslanges suggests that it normally indicates the full continuo group. See, for instance, the simultaneous appearances of “acc seul” and “orgue et basses continues” in the psalm setting H206, and “acc seul” and “orgue et basses contin. seules” in the Te Deum H145. For numerous other examples, see Thompson, “Autograph Manuscripts,” 1: 242–52.
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23. For a discussion of Charpentier’s use of the term “sourdines”, see Shirley Thompson, “A mute question: Charpentier and the sourdines,” Bulletin de la Société Marc-Antoine Charpentier 17 (2000): 7–18.
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24. Both Jürgen Eppelsheim, Das Orchester in den Werken Jean-Baptiste Lullys (Tutzing: Schneider, 1961), 64, and Jérôme de La Gorce, Josiane Bran-Ricci, Claude Mercier-Ythier, eds., Lully, un ?âge d’or de l’opéra français, Drouot Montaigne Exhibition Catalogue (Paris: Cicero, 1991), 38–9, draw attention to the annotation indicating the use of mutes in Le triomphe de l’Amour.
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25. For a discussion of Charpentier’s use of void notation, see Shirley Thompson, “Once more into the void: Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s croches blanches reconsidered,” Early Music, in press; this article reaches different conclusions from those of Lionel Sawkins in “Doucement and légèrement: tempo in French Baroque music,” Early Music 21 (1993): 365–74 (pp.365–6).
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26. A number of these also include some non-autograph material. In Rés. Vmc. Ms. 28, only the first of the two pieces (H231) was copied by Charpentier. Four of the twenty-seven parts in the set H11a are essentially non-autograph, though all contain some evidence of the composer’s hand. In H422a, only five of the thirty-eight parts are wholly autograph; nevertheless, Charpentier’s handwriting is found to varying degrees in all the others. See Thompson, “Autograph Manuscripts,” 1: xiv–xviii.
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27. Ranum, Vers une chronologie, 22. The author identifies three paper types which, by the physical design of their watermarks, may be linked with three of Charpentier’s employers: the Jesuits, the Dauphin, and the Sainte-Chapelle. Thus where one of these paper types appears, a connection with the relevant patron may be suggested or confirmed.
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28. Ranum, Vers une chronologie, 22.
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29. For further details about this work see Patricia M. Ranum, “Marc-Antoine Charpentier et la ‘Feste de Rüel’ (1685),” XVIIe siècle 161 (1988): 393–9.
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30. Cessac, Charpentier, 518. Julie Anne Sadie also links these two works and suggests that they may have been performed together “around 1686;” see her “Charpentier and the early French ensemble sonata,” Early Music 7 (1979): 330–5 (p.331).
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31. It appears in the part labelled “Bruslart”, the name of a choirboy at the Sainte-Chapelle where Charpentier was ma?ître de musique from 1698 until his death in 1704.
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32. It has already been established that, as it survives, this set contains parts apparently intended for several different performances of the work. For further details see Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Missa “Assumpta est Maria,” ed. Jean Duron (Versailles: Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, 1994), xxvii–xxix.
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33. Ranum, Vers une chronologie, 59.
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