L’Abbé(real name, Saint-Sévin)

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L’Abbé(real name, Saint-Sévin)

L’Abbé(real name, Saint-Sévin), family of French musicians:

(1) Pierre-Philippe Saint-Sévin , cellist, known as L’Abbé l’aîné; b. probably in Agen, c. 1700; d. Paris, May 15, 1768. He was maître de musique at the church of St. Caprais in Agen, where he took Holy Orders and the name L’Abbé. After settling in Paris, he became a cellist in the orch. of the Opéra (1727); he was soon made first cellist, a post he held until his retirement in 1767. He also played in the orch. of the Concert Spirituel from the 1740s to 1762, and likewise was a member of the musique de la chambre of the French court from about 1753 until his death. He was greatly esteemed as a virtuoso on his instrument.

(2) Pierre Saint-Sévin , cellist, brother of the preceding, known as L’Abbé le cadet; b. probably in Agen, c. 1710; d. Paris, March 1777. He took minor orders at the church of St. Caprais in Agen, then settled in Paris, where he became a cellist in the orch. of the Opéra (1730). He was a member of the basses du Petit Choeur there until 1767, and then leader of the basses du Grand Choeur until his retirement in 1776. He also played at the Sainte-Chapelle (1764–77).

(3) Joseph-Barnabe Saint-Sévin , violinist and composer, son of L’Abbé l’aîné , known as L’Abbé le fils; b. Agen, June 11, 1727; d. Paris, July 20, 1803. A precocious child, he began his musical training with his father. He secured a position in the orch. of the Paris Comédie-Française through winning a competition when he was only 11. He then continued his studies with Leclair {Y74Q-A2). He was a member of the orch. of the Opéra from 1742 until his retirement in 1762; however, he was denied a pension on the ground that he was too young, although he had served the requisite number of years. He also appeared as a soloist. He made his solo debut at the Concert Spirituel in 1741, and continued to appear there until 1754. In later years he devoted himself mainly to teaching. With the coming of the Revolution, he was forced to eke out a living as a member of the orch. of the Théâtre de la République et des Arts. He eventually was granted a minuscule pension and lived out his last days in obscurity. He was one of the most important French musicians of his day. A distinguished performer, he publ. the valuable treatise Principes du violon pour apprendre le doigté de cet instrument, et les differens agremens dont il est susceptibles(Paris, 1761; 2nd ed., 1772). He was also a fine composer, producing a number of notable syms. and sonatas. He was among the first composers to write out cadenzas in full in several of his sonatas.


orch.:Premier simphonie en concert for Strings and Basso Continuo (c. 1751); Second simphonie (c. 1752); 6 Syms. for Strings and Basso Continuo, op.2 (1753); Menuet[s] de MM. Exaudet et Granier, mis en grand symphonie avec des variations for 2 Violins, Oboes or Flutes, Viola, 2 Horns, and Cello or Bassoon (1764). chamber: 6 Sonates for Violin and Basso Continuo, op.l (1748); Symphonie for 2 Horns (1750); Suite d’airs for 2 Oboes, Viola d’Amore, and Viola (1754); Premier [-Troisième] recueil d’airs français et italiens avec des variations, op.3 (1756), op.4 (1757), and op.5 (1758); Recueil d’airs for Violin, op.6 (c. 1759); Jolis airs ajustés et variés for Violin, op.7 (1763); 6 Sonates for Violin and Basso Continuo, op.8 (1763); Recueil quatrième de duos d’Opéra-Comique for 2 Violins (1772).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire