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Antoine Boësset

1586 - December 8, 1643
born in Blois, France, composed during the Baroque period
Antoine Boësset is widely regarded as one of the leading French composers of his day, his reputation largely resting on his success in the genre of the airs de cour (courtly songs). His first such efforts date to 1608, though his entire airs de cour output appeared in Paris in nine volumes from 1617 to 1642. He was the son-in-law of Pierre Guédron, also known for his airs de cour.

Boësset was born in 1586 (the day and month are not known) in Blois, France. Not much is known of his childhood and early education, but it is likely his first musical instruction came as a choirboy in church. In Paris, the young Boësset first achieved publication for his songs in the 1608 anthology Airs de différents autheurs mis en tablature de luth par Gabriel Bataille.

Boësset's reputation grew quickly and he gained favor with King Louis XIII, who appointed him Maître des enfants de la musique de la chambre du roy in 1613. He was given three additional posts in the King's Court over the next few years, the most prestigious coming in 1623, Surintendant de la musique de la chambre du roy (Superintendent of music to the King).

By now his series of airs de cour was well under way and he was arguably the most respected musician in the King's Court. His reputation as a composer did not rest strictly on his songs. He had already begun composing ballets, the first of his more than 20 efforts dating to 1615. He achieved some success in the genre, particularly with the 1621 Ballet de la Reyne représentant le soleil and the 1624 Ballet des fées de la Forêt Saint-Germain.

In 1634 Louis XIII appointed Boësset his Conseiller et maître d'hotel ordinaire du roy, the fifth and last Court post held by the composer. It is believed that Boësset may actually have retained all five positions, at least in name (and thus for reasons of receiving increased stipends), until his death in 1643. Boësset remained active in composition up to nearly the end of his life, for not only did the last of the nine Airs de cour books appear in 1642, but his last two ballets (Ballet la Félicité and Ballet triomphes) came that year, as well. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
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