Jean-Baptiste (Drouard) De Bousset

(b Asnieres, nr Dijon, 1662; d Paris, 3 Oct 1725). French composer and singer. After studies with Jacques Fargeonnel, maitre de musique at the Ste Chapelle in Dijon, he moved to Paris in the early 1690s. Some time before 1700 he became maitre de musique to the Academie Francaise, with the main duty of composing and conducting a motet each year for the feast of St Louis (25 August), celebrated with a mass held in the chapel of the Louvre. By 1702 he was maitre de musique also to the Academie des Sciences and the Academie des Inscriptions, who celebrated the feast of St Louis jointly in the church of the Oratoire. For his work for the academies Bousset received a royal pension of 600 livres tournois, of which half was reimbursement for monies paid to the musicians he had engaged.

Little of Bousset's sacred output has survived, however, and his main achievements lay elsewhere. About 1692 he emerged as the leading composer of airs serieux et a boire of his generation. According to Laborde 'his manner of singing was so delightful that he made a large fortune in Paris, singing airs which no-one composed better than he did'. In the dedication of his last collection of Airs nouveaux (1725) to the Duchess of Orleans, the composer wrote that the taste of the 'greatest princesses' of France had shaped his Muse, and that their support had ensured his continuing reputation. Most of the 875 airs serieux et a boire Bousset published during his composing life of 35 years are for one or two voices with continuo. Titon Du Tillet (Le Parnasse Francois, 1732) commented with justice upon Bousset's true expression of the words, his noble, natural and pleasing melody, and his variety, astonishing given the size of his output. Bousset followed tradition in keeping mainly to binary form, and his rhetorical approach to text setting shows the influence of both Lully and Lambert. He made use of double technique not only to provide a written-out variation for the whole of a second verse in 46 airs composed between 1690 and 1716, but also throughout his career, to vary repeats of single phrases of text, often combining it imaginatively with techniques of melodic development assimilated from late 17th-century Italian practice. Other italianate features found in his work are chromaticism and sequential writing. Bousset was among the first Frenchmen to experiment with the ritornello principle as a means of unifying an air (1696), and he preceded Campra by two years as the first cantata composer in France to juxtapose French-style recitative with da capo form in airs (1706). His three Eglogues (two of which were published singly as well as in collections) are novel attempts to group solo songs and duets into quasi-dramatic scenas; book 5 of the Airs nouveaux includes a cantata, L'impatience amoureuse.

The notion that Bousset was the son-in-law of Christophe Ballard (who printed all his music issued up to 1701), put forth by Papillon in 1742 and repeated in many later accounts of his life, is unfounded: in 1695 Bousset married Marie Marguerite de Sequeville, whose sister was the wife of Chirstophe Ballard's brother Pierre.



Airs serieux et a boire, 37 bks (Paris, 1690--99)
Airs nouveaux serieux et a boire, 21 bks (Paris, 1702--25) [bks 1--18 also pubd Amsterdam]
Airs in anthologies: 16 in Ballard's Recueils d'airs serieux et a boire (Paris, 1698--1701); 2 in Ballard's Airs spirituels des meilleurs autheurs, ii (Paris, 1701)
[3] Cantates francoises (before 4 April 1710): Le prunier; La rose; Ixion
Grand motet, Deus noster refugium, F-LYm
Petit motet, Quae est ista, V [copied by Philidor in 1697]
Instrumental trio Pn [copied by Philidor in 1695]
Beati omnes qui timent Dominum; Caeli enarrant gloriam Dei; Domine ne in furore; Domine salve fac regem; Exaudiat; Laudate Jerusalem Dominum; Notus in Judea Deus; Super flumina Babylonis; Te Deum: all lost



La BordeE

Laborde MP

S. de Brossard : Catalogue des livres de musique (MS 1724, F-Pn), 279

Abbe Papillon : Bibliotheque des auteurs de Bourgogne (Dijon, 1742)

P.-L. D'Aquin : Siecle litteraire de Louis XV, ou Lettres sur les hommes celebres (Amsterdam, 1753)

M. Benoit and N. Dufourcq : 'Documents du Minutier central: musiciens francais du XVIIIe siecle', RMFC, vii (1967), 219--20

G. Garden : 'A Little Known Contributor to the Early French Cantata: Jean-Baptiste de Bousset', Liber amicorum John Steele, ed. W. Drake (New York, 1997), 355--75