Jean-Baptiste LULLY
28 November 1632 - 22 March 1687 (age 54)

Giovanni Battista Lully, was the most important composer of his time in France. He is considered the founder of French opera. 
He was the musical director of the court of King Louis XIV - 'The Sun King"





More French composers here

portrait of Lully


Born: Giovanni Battista Lulli; 28 November 1632, Florence, Italy
Father: Lorenzo di Maldo Lullia, miller
Mother: Caterina del Sera, daughter of a miller (died when he was 13) 
Siblings: Non as far as I know. 
Wife: Madeleine Lambert
Children: six. His three sons all entered the king's service as musicians.
Died: 22 March 1687
Cause of death: gangrene
Grave: Church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, Paris, see findagrave


14 Operas (tragédies lyriques)
- Cadmus et Hermione 
- Thésée 
- Atys
- Alceste 
- Isis 
- Persée 
- Amadis 
- Roland 
- Armide 
- 5 others
36 ballets (some with other composers)
14 comédies-ballets, including: 
- L'amour médecin 
- Les amants magnifiques 
- Le bourgeois gentilhomme 
Sacred music
- 13 grands motets, incl. Miserere
- Te Deum 
- De profundis
- 14 petits motets
Instrumental music
dances, symphonies, airs

The Man

Religion: Roman Catholic. However the Church disapproved of his theatrical activities. Nevertheless towards the end of his life he did compose several religious works. 
Love life: Even though he married and had six children he is said to have been a 'libertine' and had frequent affairs with both men and women. 
Power: He came from a working class family but had the luck to be introduced into the French nobility. He exploited his friendship with King Louis XIV through which he was granted the monopoly of stage performances in Paris with the Royal Academie. He limited productions by others to two singers and six musicians. His great power in the Parisian music establishment made him extremely unpopular with his contemporaries.
Money: He made a very good living from his music and contacts with royalty. He died an extremely rich man with five houses and an estate reputedly worth 500 times the salary of a court musician.


- Early years: learned the guitar and was taught music by a Franciscan monk.
- Age 13: After the death of his mother he was taken to France where he was employed as a servant and to teach Italian to the cousin of Louis XIV . There he learned the violin, guitar, organ and dance.
- Age 20: entered the service of King Louis XIV (the "Sun King") starting as a dancer. He was later appointed court composer and directed the royal string orchestra. He composed several ballets for the King who was an enthusiastic dancer himself. King Louis was 7 years younger than Lully and they became close friends. 
- Age 29: Became a French citizen.
- Age 30: Married the daughter of his friend and fellow composer Michel Lambert.
- Age 30: Made responsible for all the royal music
- Age 40: Granted an exclusive monopoly for the production of opera in France. This enabled him to become a very rich man.
From now on he was to concentrate on producing operas.
- Age 42: Began a 7 year collaboration with the French writer Molière to produce comédies-ballets (plays with music and dancing) in which the king himself often performed.
- Age 49: achieved one of his major ambitions becoming "secretary to the king" which promoted him to the nobility.
- Age 51: King Louis married. His behaviour changed dramatically and his relationship with Lully cooled.
- Age 55: Died from hitting his toe with his conducting cane during a performance of his Te Deum for the king.

Cause of death 
clip from the film 'Roi Danse' (The King is Dancing). He stabbed his toe with his conducting cane, it developed gangrene and he refused to have it amputated. 

Marche pour la cérémonie des Turcs 

Links - and where to go for more information

Last fm


Allmusic.com short bio

University of North Texas digital copies of his works

More French composers here at 52composers.com

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