Jacquet de la Guerre, Elisabeth-Claude (c. 1666–1729)

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Jacquet de la Guerre, Elisabeth-Claude (c. 1666–1729)

French composer and musician . Name variations: Elisabeth de la Guerre. Born Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet around 1666; died on June 27, 1729, in Paris, France; daughter of musician Claude Jacquet; married Marin de la Guerre, in 1684 (died 1704); children: one son (died young).

Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet was born around 1666 into a family of Parisian instrument makers and musicians. She and her siblings were trained in music by her father, an organist and harpsichord maker. Widely regarded as a prodigy, she first performed on the harpsichord before King Louis XIV when she was four. Her talent won her the lifelong support and protection of Louis and the subsequent admiration of Paris. In 1677, an article calling Elisabeth-Claude "the marvel of our century" appeared in a Parisian magazine, noting that she had already distinguished herself as a singer, harpsichordist, and composer. She continued to play frequently at the royal court, where the king placed her under the protection of his mistresses, Madame de Montespan and Madame de Maintenon , and provided her an annual stipend.

In 1682, Elisabeth-Claude declined the king's invitation to move with his court to Versailles, preferring to remain in Paris, where she enjoyed a long and successful career which brought her considerable wealth. In 1684, she married a Parisian organist, Marin de la Guerre, with whom she had one son who died as an infant. Neither marriage, motherhood, nor widowhood (her husband died in 1704) affected the pursuit of her music. She composed for the harpsichord and for ballet scores, performed professionally as a singer and musician, mostly in the salons of the nobility but also in popular public recitals. She became widely known for her improvisational techniques. She also wrote at least one opera, Cephale et Procris (1694), along with sonatas and Biblical cantatas. Although she wrote a book of harpsichord music around 1687 and a ballet in 1691, these works have been lost. However, her opera and several later books of music, published after 1700, have survived.

Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre continued to write and give concerts in Paris until her retirement in 1717, after almost 50 years as a performer. A commemorative medal was struck in her honor after her death in 1729, at age 63.


Borroff, Edith. An Introduction to Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre. NY: Institute of Medieval Music, 1966.

Schleifer, Martha, and Sylvia Glickman, eds. Women Composers: Music Through the Ages. Vol. 2. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1996.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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Jacquet de la Guerre, Elisabeth-Claude (c. 1666–1729)

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