Te Deum – Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Henry Dumont


Can music not be political in the 17th century when its development is so closely linked to the State? Great music is above all the “music of the King”, the music that is played for the King and at the King’s house: at the court and in the Chapel, Henry Du Mont is one of the eminent architects of the time.

Originally from Liege, he arrived in Paris around 1640 and gradually rose through the ranks to the level closest to Louis XIV: in the service of the king’s brother in his early days, his success quickly led him to occupy increasingly important positions until he finally devoted her to the top composer of the music of the Chapel, and master of the Queen’s music. It was as close as possible to power that he forged the shape of the great motet, transposing the great frescoes designed for extraordinary ceremonies, which became the musical seal of France in a Europe where the chapels competed in musical inventiveness and splendour as a struggle for political influence, a soft power before the hour…

In contrast to this ascent to power, Charpentier evolved far from the King’s music, in the service of the very religious Miss de Guise during twenty years. But he was nonetheless very much appreciated by Louis XIV and tried the competition of sub-master of the Chapel: suspecting himself of the methods in force and the influence games for this eminently coveted place, he finally called in sick. It was far from the spheres of power, but nevertheless at its glorification, that he composed the very famous Te Deum H146, most probably written to celebrate the Victory of Steinkerque in 1692. This powerful fresco, whose prelude opens to the martial rhythms of timpani and trumpets, symbolizes not only the Great Century of the Arts, but also the war of Louis XIV.

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