Personalities | Marin Marais | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
Marin Marais, who was born in Paris, was both a composer and a player of the viola da gamba. He spent his life in Paris or Versailles, where he was one of many musicians employed by King Louis XIV. Marais became a member of the Académie Royale de Musique and co-directed its orchestra with Pascal Colasse. For 15 years, between 1695 and 1710, Marais became renowned for his virtuoso instrumental performances, and in 1676 he was summoned to the Palace of Versailles to play for the king. In 1679, he was appointed to an official post as a viola da gamba performer. Marais remained at Versailles until he retired in 1725. His instrumental music was much admired, and so were his four operas, which he modelled on those of his teacher, Lully. All Marais’ operas were produced in Paris. The first, Alcide, premiered in 1693, followed by Ariane et Bacchus (1695) and Alcyone (1706). Alcyone was noteworthy for its musical representation of a storm, one of the earliest to be produced in opera. Marais’ fourth opera, Sémélé, was produced in 1709.
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