Jean-Baptiste Lully – Nov. 28

Jean-Baptiste Lully

Born Nov. 28, 1632 in Florence, Italy
Died March 22, 1687 in Paris, France

Italian Composer Conquers (and scandalizes) Versailles

Italian-born miller’s son of limited education and musical training, Lully rose to become master of French Baroque music and the favorite court composer of King Louis XIV. He endeared himself to the French public as well, with his acclaimed operas and his theater music for the popular comedies of Moliere. Despite repeated licentious scandals and dismissals, Lully always returned to Versailles and a forgiving patron in the Sun King.

Death by Conducting

He was the first composer to suffer Death by Conducting. His untimely and ironic demise resulted after rehearsing his Te Deum with less-than-satisfactory musicians. While pounding the floor with a stick (forerunner of the baton) to keep the orchestra together, he fatally stabbed his toe. The self-administered wound soon became infected and gangrenous. So he soon died, perhaps a sign that God too was displeased with his Te Deum.

Enjoy Lully’s exuberant but fatal Te Deum:

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