Marin Marais by André Bouys, 1704.
Marin Marais (31 May 1656, Paris – 15 August 1728, Paris) was a French composer and viol player. He studied composition with Jean-Baptiste Lully, often conducting his operas, and with master of the bass viol Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe for 6 months. He was hired as a musician in 1676 to the royal court of Versailles. He did quite well as court musician, and in 1679 was appointed "ordinaire de la chambre du roy pour la viole", a title he kept until 1725.
He was a master of the basse de viol, and the leading French composer of music for the instrument. He wrote five books of Pièces de viole (1686-1725) for the instrument, generally suites with basso continuo. These were quite popular in the court, and for these he was remembered in later years as he who "founded and firmly established the empire of the viol" (Hubert Le Blanc, 1740). His other works include a book of Pièces en trio (1692) and four operas (1693-1709), Alcyone (1706) being noted for its tempest scene.
Titon du Tillet included Marais in Le Parnasse françois, making the following comments on two of his pieces:
A piece from his fourth book entitled The Labyrinth, which passes through various keys, strikes various dissonances and notes the uncertainty of a man caught in a labyrinth through serious and then quick passages; he comes out of it happily and finishes with a gracious and natural chaconne. But he surprised musical connoisseurs even more successfully with his pieces called La Gamme [The Scale], which is a piece de symphonie that imperceptibly ascends the steps of the octave; one then descends, thereby going through harmonious songs and melodious tones, the various sounds of music.
As with Sainte-Colombe, little of Marin Marais' personal life is known after he reached adulthood. Marin Marais married a Parisian, Catherine d'Amicourt, on September 21, 1676. They had 19 children together.
Facsimiles of all five books of Marais' Pièces de viole are published by Éditions J.M. Fuzeau. A complete critical edition of his instrumental works in seven volumes, edited by John Hsu, is published by Broude Brothers. Marais is credited with being one of the earliest composers of program music. His work The Gallbladder Operation, for viola da gamba and harpsichord, includes composer's annotations such as "The patient is bound with silken cords" and "He screameth."
Viol part of Premier couplets (sic) des Folies d'Espagne
from the Marin Marais' deuxième livre de pièces de viole
for viola da gamba
and figured bass
- Pieces for 1 and 2 viols, Book I (20 August 1686, only solo viols, 1 March 1689 first published with associated basso continuo)
Pieces en trio pour les flutes, violon, et dessus de viole (published on 20 December 1692, dedicated to Marie-Anne Roland)
- Pieces for 1 and 2 viols, Book II (1701), including 32 couplets on "Les folies d'Espagne"
- Pièces de violes, Book III (1711)
- Pieces for 1 and 3 viols, Book IV (1717)
La gamme et autres morceaux de symphonie (1723, includes La Gamme en forme d'un petit Opéra, Sonate à la Maresienne, Sonnerie de Ste-Geneviève du Mont-de-Paris)
- Pièces de violes, Book V (1725)
- 145 Pieces for viol (c. 1680), about 100 pieces were published in Books I - III
- Concerto for violin and orchestra (lost)
- Concerto for viol and orchestra (lost)
Idylle dramatique of 1686 (music lost)
Alcide (1693, in collaboration with Louis Lully)
Ariane et Bacchus (1696)
Alcyone (premiered on 18 February 1706)
Pantomime des pages (with Louis Lully, music lost)
Te Deum (1701) for the recovery of the Dauphin (lost)
Motet Domine salvum fac regem (1701) for the recovery of the Dauphin (lost)
Marin Marais, Sonnerie de Ste-Genevieve du Mont, Suite en Do majeur (C major), Suite en Re majeur (D major); performers: N. Harnoncourt, A. Harnoncourt, L.Stastny, H. Tachezi; recording label: Harmonia Mundi, France, no. HMC 90414; 1973, 1987.
Marin Marais, Les Folies d'Espagne, La reveuse, L'arabesque, Le badinage, Sonnerie de Ste-Genevieve du Mont; performers: Jordi Savall (Bass viola da gamba), Pierre Hantaï (Harpsichord), Rolf Lislevand (Theorbo); recording label: Alia Vox, 9821; 2002.
 Marin Marais : Pièces de viole du Second Livre, 1701 (Le Parnasse de la Viole, vol. II) - Jordi Savall et al. - Alia Vox AV 9828
 Marin Marais : Suitte d'un Goût Étranger, Pièces de viole du Livre IV, 1717 (Le Parnasse de la Viole, vol. III) - Jordi Savall et al. - Alia Vox AVSA 9851
References in Film
^ a b Henri Temianka (1973). Facing the music; an irreverent close-up of the real concert world. New York: David McKay Co.. p. 82. OCLC 243915303.