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Gautier Pierre

Gautier Pierre

Gautier, Pierre, French composer and opera director who was known as Pierre Gautier de Marseille; b. Provence, c. 1642; d. in a storm at sea off the coast of Sète, Dec. 1696. He learned to play the organ and harpsichord before going to Paris, where he studied with Chambonnières and was befriended by Hardelle. In 1670–71 he served as organist in La Ciotat. After returning to Paris, he moved in the circle of Lully. About 1681 he went to Marseilles, where he and his brother, the sculptor Jacques Gautier, explored the possibility of creating the first provincial opera company in France. In 1684 Lully granted Gautier a privilege to present operas in Marseilles and other locales in Provence. Gautier composed the opera Le triomphe de la paix for the inauguration of his opera company in Marseilles on Jan. 28, 1685. In 1687 his opera Le jugement de soleil was premiered there. When Gautier was imprisoned for the company’s debts in 1688, his enterprise collapsed. Following a sojourn in Lyons, he returned to Marseilles in 1692 with the intention of building the city’s first opera house. With Gautier as music director and his brother as director-in-chief, the new opera house opened in 1693 with a capacity of 1,000. The new enterprise flourished, and the company successfully mounted operas by Lully in Marseilles and on tour. After the company gave performances in Montpellier in Nov. 1696, Pierre and his brother met their tragic fate in a storm at sea on their return to Marseilles. Gautier’s operas are not extant, but a number of his fine instrumental pieces have survived. A vol. of his “symphonies,” actually 17 duos for Violin and Basso Continuo and 22 trios for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo, was publ. posthumously by Christophe Bal-lard in Paris in 1707.

—Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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