Leclair, family of notable French musicians, which included the following four brothers:
(1) Jean-Marie Leclair (l’aîné) , celebrated violinist and composer; b. Lyons, May 10, 1697; d. (murdered) Paris, Oct. 22, 1764. His father was the master lacemaker and cellist Antoine Leclair. Jean- Marie studied violin, dancing, and lacemaking in his youth, excelling in all three. He then began his career as a dancer at the Lyons Opera, where he met Marie-Rose Casthagnié; they were married in 1716. About 1722 he went to Turin, where he was active as a ballet master. During a visit to Paris in 1723 to arrange for the publication of his op.l, a distinguished set of sonatas, he acquired a wealthy patron in Joseph Bonnier. Returning to Turin, he wrote ballets for the Teatro Regio Ducale and also received instruction from Somis. He then made a series of appearances at the Concert Spirituel in Paris in 1728. He also visited London, and then made a great impression when he played at the Kassel court with Pietro Locatelli. He subsequently received additional instruction from André Chéron in Paris. After the death of his first wife, Leclair married Louise Roussel in 1730; she engraved all of his works from op.2 forward. From 1733 to 1737 he served as ordinaire de la musique du roi to Louis XV. He then entered the service of Princess Anne at the Orange court in the Netherlands in 1738, and was honored with the Croix Néerlandaise du Lion. He was active three months of the year at the court, and, from 1740, spent the remaining months as maestro di cappella to the commoner François du Liz at The Hague. He returned to Paris in 1743. With the exception of a brief period of service with the Spanish Prince Don Philippe in Cham-béry in 1744, he remained in Paris for the rest of his life. From 1748 until his death, he was music director and composer to his former student, the Duke of Gramont, who maintained a private theater in the Parisian suburb of Puteaux. Leclair separated from his wife about 1758. He was murdered as he was entering his home. The Paris police report listed three suspects: His gardener (who discovered his body), his estranged wife, and his nephew, the violinist Guillaume-François Vial, with whom he was on poor terms. The evidence clearly pointed to the nephew, but he was never charged with the deed. Leclair was the founder of the French violin school. He was also a distinguished composer who successfully combined the finest elements of the Italian and French styles of his day.
(all publ. in Paris): Premier livre de sonates for Violin and Basso Continuo (1723; 12 sonatas; 2 also for Flute; ed. as op.3, 1905, by A. Guilmant and J. Debroux), Second livre de sonates for Violin and Basso Continuo (e. 1728; 12 sonatas; 5 also for Flute; ed. in Publikationen Älterer Praktischer und Theoretischer Musikwerke, XXVII, 1903), (6) Sonates for 2 Violins, op.3 (1730; ed. by M. Pincherle, Paris, 1924, S. Beck, N.Y, 1946, and Rost, Locarno, Wilhelmshaven, and Amsterdam, 1963); (6) Sonates en trio for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo, op.4 (c. 1731-33; ed. by M. Pincherle, Paris, 1922); Troisième livre de sonates for Violin and Basso Continuo, op.5 (1734; 12 sonatas; ed. in Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era, IV-V, 1968-69), Première recréation de musique d’une exécution facile for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo, op.6 (1736; suite with overture; ed. by H. Ruf, Kassel, 1976); 6 concertos for Violin, Strings, and Basso Continuo, op.7 (1737; No. 3 for Flute or Oboe, Strings, and Basso Continuo); Deuxième recréation de musique d’une exécution facile for 2 Recorders or Violin and Basso Continuo, op.8 (c. 1737; suite with overture; ed. by H. Ruf, Kassel, 1967); Quatrième livre de sonates for Violin and Basso Continuo, op.9 (1743; 12 sonatas; 2 also for Flute; 6 publ. as op.l, London, c. 1755; ed. in Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era, X-XI, 1969-72); 6 concertos for Violin, Strings, and Basso Continuo, op.10 (1745); Scylla et Glaucus, opéra tragédie, op.ll (first perf. in Paris, Oct. 4, 1746; rev. version, Lyons, c. 1755); Second livre de sonates for 2 Violins, op.12 (c. 1747-49; 6 sonatas; ed. by M. Pincherle, Paris, 1950); (3) Ouvertures et  sonates en trio for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo, op.13 (1753; most arranged from other works); Trio for 2 Violins and Basso Continuo (1766; suite with overture; arranged from other works); Sonate for Violin and Basso Continuo (1767; ed. in Recent Researches in the Music of the Baroque Era, XI, 1972); his ballets and other works for the theater are not extant.
M. Pincherle, J.-M. L l’aîné (Paris, 1952); P. Schwarze, L. ’s Contribution to the Concerto in France (diss., Univ. of N.C, 1983).
(2) Jean-Marie Leclair (le second or le cadet) , violinist and composer; b. Lyons, Sept. 23, 1703; d. there, Nov. 30, 1777. After serving as director of Besançon’s Académie de Musique (1732–33), he returned to his native town to serve as director of its Académie des Beaux-Arts. He also was active as a teacher, and became widely known as a violinist. His works include Premier livre de sonates for Violin and Basso Continuo, op.l (Paris, 1739; 12 sonatas), Sonates for 2 Violins, op.2 (Paris, c. 1750; 6 sonatas), Sym. (1768), Cantata, Divertissement, and other works, all of which are lost.
(3) Pierre Leclair , violinist and composer; b. Lyons, Nov. 19, 1709; d. there, April 2, 1784. He was active mainly as a violinist in Lyons. He publ. Six sonates de récréation à deux violons, op.l (Versailles, 1764). He also composed a set of violin duets, op.2 (MS).
(4) Jean-Benoît Leclair , violinist and composer; b. Lyons, Sept. 25, 1714; d. after 1759. He was director of the Moulins Académie de Musique (1736–37) and later director of his own touring company of actors, dancers, and musicians (from c. 1747). He wrote a ballet héroïque, Le Retour de la paix dans les Pays-Bas (Brussels, April 27, 1749; only libretto extant).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire