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Gossec, François-Joseph
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Gossec, François-Joseph

(Born; Vergnies, 17 Jan 1734; Died; Passy, 16 Feb 1829). South Netherlands composer. At Paris he was a violinist in La Pouplinière's orchestra, c. 1751-1762, as well as a composer. In 1762-70 he directed the Prince of Condé's theatre at Chantilly, from c. 1766 also serving the Prince of Conti; meanwhile he composed opéras comiques, notably Les pêcheurs (1766, Paris).

He founded the Concert des Amateurs in 1769 and directed it until 1773; the orchestra was one of Europe's finest. In 1773-7 he was a director of the Concert Spirituel. From 1775 he held posts at the Opéra and presented various stage works there; the ballets were the most successful. From 1784 he directed the new Ecole Royale de Chant. At the Revolution he directed the band of the Garde Nationale and wrote numerous Revolutionary works for large forces. After 1799 his output declined, and he concentrated on teaching at the Conservatoire.

Gossec's c.50 symphonies, showing many Mannheim traits, are his most important works and contributed significantly to the development of the genre in France. One of them (1761) was among the first French orchestral works to use clarinets. Novel effects of scoring also appear in his Messe des morts (1760) and oratorio La nativité; (1774). He also wrote other sacred works, songs, symphonies concertantes, chamber music and treatises.

© Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK

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