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Volume 1, redone Dec. 2014


Volume 1


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1683: The dead queen is honored through Charpentier's compositions

For letters sent to Florence by two of the Carmelite nuns, see our Fugitive Piece, In which we read some Carmelite gossip

During the second half of 1683, Marc-Antoine Charpentier wrote music for two events honoring Queen Marie-Thérèse, who had died on July 30.

According to the memorandum on Charpentier's compositions drawn up in 1726 (fol. 3v), one of the pieces, Luctus (H. 331), was a "Motet pour le service de Marie-Thérèse, reine de France" — a description that may well have been based upon a cover-sheet that was discarded when Charpentier's manuscripts were bound. The same memorandum described the other work, In obitum (H. 409), as a "motet pour la mort de la reine defunte" (fol. 9). In short, it is noteworthy that neither work was described as having been written for the queen' actual "funeral."

In my book, Portraits around Marc-Antoine Charpentier (Baltimore, 2004), I proposed that the venue for one of these works was the Church of Notre-Dame de la Mercy, and that Charpentier also received a commission for a memorial mass at the so-called Little Carmel. I did not make these assertions lightly: my presentation was based upon the evidence and the reasoning about that evidence — summarized below. I realize, of course, that some of the evidence is circumstantial; and that evidence of which I was unaware, or that I did not take into account, might lead a different scholar to a different conclusion.

Indeed, Jean Duron reached a different conclusion. In 2000 he edited some of Charpentier's works: Luctus de morte ... (H. 331), and In obitum ... (H. 409), plus its associated élévation (H. 408) and De profundis (H.189). As the title of his edition shows, he concluded that these works were intended for Marie-Thérèse's "funeral," funérailles. That is the title he gave to his edition: Musique pour les funérailles de la reine Marie-Thérèse (Paris: Le Pupitre-Heugel, 2000). A very similar title — "Musiques des Funérailles de la reine Marie-Thérèse" — was retained for the concert organized by the Centre de Musique Baroque in the royal chapel of Versailles on October 2, 2004, during the "Journées Marc-Antoine Charpentier." Duron's commitment to this hypothesis goes beyond the title. In the Preface to his edition, he talks about "the manuscripts of the music composed by M.-A. Charpentier for the funeral of Marie-Thérèse," les manuscrits de la musique composée par M.-A. Charpentier pour les funérailles de Marie-Thérèse (p. vi).

Duron restated this view during a brief exchange at Versailles, when he firmly told me that he did "not believe a thing I had written on the subject." When my factual replies to his arguments were dismissed out of hand, I shook hands with him and said that it was best to agree to disagree, and not to discuss the issue further.

However, I cannot remain silent about statements that distort the history of Charpentier's compositions. That would be a disservice to the scholars who are trying to understand the contexts within which each work was created. For example, in his Preface, Duron repeats some unfounded assertions that musicologists were making several decades ago and that still crop up, although contradicted by historical evidence. At the end of this Musing I will confront these assertions with facts and, I hope, deflate them for good. (For some weaknesses in Duron's inventive but misguided quest for a venue at Versailles, see my comments about Duron's chronology: Jean Duron's writing on the Queen's "funeral".)

Charpentier's two commissions for the late queen 

Luctus (H. 331)

Charpentier's first work for Marie-Thérèse, entitled Luctus de morte Augustissiimæ Mariæ Theresiæ Reginæ Galliæ (H. 331), was copied into cahier 38. A relatively short piece, it fills 12 sides of folio-sized paper. If my reasoning is correct about the distinction between the two series of notebooks that make up the Mélanges, this suggests that Luctus was written for a service held in Paris and sponsored by one or both of the Guise princesses. This assumption is supported by the fact that the piece is for the male trio — haute-contre, tenor and bass, sometimes accompanied by two treble instruments and continuo — that Mlle de Guise used for some devotions at the small church of the Mercedarian Fathers of Notre-Dame de la Mercy, just across the street from the Hôtel de Guise (Portraits, p. 20.). That is to say, the male trio seems to have performed principally during masses chanted by the fathers, while the mixed-gender Core Trio sang primarily for confraternity or private devotions. If, in fact, this piece was commissioned by the Guises, by looking closely at the princesses' activities during the second half of 1683, it may be possible to identify the venue for this work. I shall present my conclusions on that score shortly.
In obitum (H. 409) and its companion pieces

The second commission is vast in scope. It fills 81 folio sides of paper! (Compare this total with the number of sides that Charpentier filled for his Messe à 8 voix et violons et flûtes, which — with its élévation and Domine salvum — totals 69 sides of folio paper. Or compare it with the 17 sides bearing Charpentier's funeral mass for the Duke of Guise, H. 2 and H. 234.) This corpus of pieces for the late queen consists of several related works.

The first work is an Ouverture pour l'église, H. 524, for stringed instruments. In other words, we know for a fact that this music was to be performed while mourners were assembling in a church. This corpus can therefore scarcely have been intended for performance at the château of Versailles (as Duron proposes, pp. vii. and ix). The Grand Cabinet on the étage noble of the château, where the queen lay in state for ten days surrounded by priests saying low masses at temporary altars, would not be described as a "church." Nor is it likely that Charpentier would have used the word "church" to denote the corridors, the staircase, and the cour d'honneur from which the procession bearing Marie-Thérèse's coffin to Saint-Denis departed on August 10.

The next piece in this corpus is an élévation (H. 408), where Christ provides bread and wine to the famished and the thirsty. In other words, the service involved a mass, a communion service where mourners were uplifted by this oratorio about the virtue Charity. This evidence corroborates the information that Charpentier provides in the title of the overture: the devotional event not only took place in a church, it involved a mass with music. In other words, this second clue makes it still less likely that the venue was either the room where the queen lay in state at Versailles, or the corridor or courtyard where her coffin joined the hundreds of mourners who would would carry it to Saint-Denis. Although the performers are not named, this élévation appears to have been written specifically for the Dauphin's Music, which was composed of a haut-dessus and a dessus (the Pièche sisters), plus a bass (Frizon) and two treble instruments (usually flutes or recorders played by the Pièche brothers). This suggests that the dauphin's former musicians — who had been incorporated into the King's Music when the Dauphin's Music was disbanded around the time of Monseigneur's marriage — performed this work.

As Jean Duron argues so convincingly (pp. viii-ix), the final two works of this corpus were clearly written for the king's musicians, because the orchestra has five parts. The first piece is a veritable oratorio, In obitum augustissimæ nec non piissimæ gallorum Reginæ lamentum (H. 409), which calls for numerous singers and a five-part string orchestra joined by flutes and recorders (the Pièche brothers?). The corpus closes with a De profundis for the same ensemble of what appear to be the King's Music.

Since these works were copied into roman-numbered notebook (cahiers XXXVI-XXXIX), they presumably were outside commissions extended to Charpentier by someone of whom the Guises approved, and who consequently dared approach the the princesses' protégé. I agree with Jean Duron: this corpus of pieces almost certainly was written for the royal musicians. However, I do not believe the performance took place at Versailles — nor at Fontainebleau, to where the court had withdrawn after the queen's death and where it remained until late September. Rather, to identify the venue for the grandiose mass for which this corpus was intended, we must seek a church that was closely associated with the royal family — so closely linked that the person or persons commissioning all this music for a mass would be able to count upon the participation of the King's Music, the Queen's Music (if it not yet been disbanded), and the former Dauphin's Music as well. I believe that we must search for that venue in Paris.

My evidence and my reasoning about services held at the Mercy and at the Carmel of the rue du Bouloir

Here is the evidence about the late-August service at the Mercy and the late-December "solemn service" at the Little Carmel upon which I based my conclusions. Some of it was just too lengthy to be included in my Portraits:

The Mercy (Luctus)

Mademoiselle de Guise obtained a chapel at this convent in 1675, and the small Mercy church promptly became the venue for many of Charpentier's pieces for small musical ensembles ? either for the two women and the bass who constituted the Guise Core Trio, or for a less commonly used male trio made up of Charpentier himself and Guise musicians De Baussen and Beaupuis. (See the "portrait" of the Mercy in Portraits, pp. 204-212.)

Since the cahiers françois of Charpentier's Mélanges clearly contain works written to meet Charpentier's "ordinary," everyday obligations, in one of those arabic-numbered notebooks we should expect to find any work or works that the Guises ordered him to write for the late queen in 1683. And we do. Into cahier 38 (which contains works dating from mid-1683 to early 1684), Charpentier copied his Luctus for that male trio. This piece for the queen is followed immediately by what seems to be a companion-piece for the same trio: a work honoring St. Louis, presumably to be performed on or about Louis XIV's saint's day, August 25, 1683.

We know that a "solemn mass" for the queen was conducted at the Mercy chapel, probably during the final weeks of August: "The Religious of the Mercy .... sang a Solemn Mass," les Religieux de la Mercy ... ont chanté une Messe Solennelle" (Gazette de France, p. 576, mentioned in September). We also know that during the last half of August Mme de Guise, who had been summering at Alençon, returned to Paris for "four days," "because she has not attended any function for the queen," questa non ha assisto ad alcuna funzione della Regina (Florence, Archivio di Stato, Med. del Prin, 4791, letter dated Aug. 16, 1683: it is not clear whether she had already reached Paris or was preparing to do so). In other words, we know for a fact that Mme de Guise made a brief trip to Paris during the final two weeks of August, to attend a "function" honoring the queen, and that she returned to Alençon some four days later. In other words, the two works in cahier 38 for the male trio — the Luctus and the piece for St. Louis/Louis XIV — can be seen as a "diptych" destined for a service honoring the royal couple. There is a piece for the late queen, who was Mme de Guise's close friend; and there is a piece for the king, who was Mme de Guise's first cousin. We cannot be sure whether the service to which Mme de Guise hastened was the one mentioned in the Gazette, or whether the diptych was written for a more elite service sponsored by Mlle de Guise (and definitely organized by her, because Mme de Guise was absent). Be that as it may, it is clear that a service did take place in one or another of the Guises' Parisian chapels shortly before the Feast of St. Louis, and it is likely that the venue was the Mercy.

Is it a mere coincidence that Pierre Portes' text for the Luctus evokes, in a generic way, "princes" and "nobles"? When he wrote "Plorate principes! Lugete nobiles!," Portes — a neo-Latin poet who seems to have belonged to the same circle as Latinist Du Bois, the Guise Chapel Master — would seem to have been evoking Mme de Guise, a princess of the blood, a petite-fille de France; Mlle de Guise, a foreign princess, a princesse étrangère naturalisée en France; and, one can assume, the select group of "noble" guests who were invited to the memorial service.

It cannot, of course, be ruled out that Charpentier's Luctus was later performed at court, as a gift from the Guises and their composer. It does, however, seem quite unlikely that the work was hastily commissioned by the king or the dauphin, a day or so after the queen's death, for performance at Versailles by August 10, when the queen's remains were borne to Saint-Denis to await burial.

The Carmel of St. Theresa (In obitum, etc.)

The Mercure galant provides information about the "solemn service" held at the Little Carmel on December 20, 1683. The event took the form of a "pontifical mass," with all the pomp that implies. (Jean Duron, p. vi, does not conceal his doubts about the veracity of this account. He uses the conditional tense, as if Charpentier's friends at the Mercure were publishing hear-say: "A work by Charpentier is said to have been given ... by the Carmelites," une œuvre de Charpentier aurait été donnée le 20 décembre par les carmélites. On what does he found these doubts?) Here is the text from the Mercure:

Les Carmelites de la Ruë du Bouloir ayant fait faire un service solemnel pour cette Princesse, le 20 de ce mois, la Messe y fut celebrée pontificalement par M. l'Evesque d'Auxerre, et l'Oraison Funebre prononcé par Mr l'abbé d'Alleurs, Aumônier de Madame la Dauphine . .... Un grand nombre de Prelats et de Personnes de qualité formoient l'Assemblée et les Religieuses de ce Couvent n'oublierent rien dans cette Ceremonie, doublement triste pour elle, de ce qui pouvoit marquer leur douleur et leur reconnoissance. La Musique, qui fut fort touchante, estoit de la composition de Mr Charpentier. Vingt-quatre Pauvres, qu'elles [the Carmelites] avoient revestus, allerent à l'Oratoire, chacun un Cierge à la main. .... "
[The Carmelites of the rue du Bouloir having arranged a solemn service for this princess on the 20th of this month, the mass was celebrated pontifically by the Bishop of Auxerre, and the funeral oration was given by Abbé d'Alleurs, the dauphine's almoner. ... A great number of prelates and persons of quality [that is, nobles] formed the assembly, and the nuns of this convent omitted nothing in this ceremony ? which was doubly sad for them ? that could mark their anguish and their gratitude [to their late "foundress," the queen]. The music, which was very moving, was composed by Monsieur Charpentier. Twenty-four paupers whom the Carmelites had garbed went to the oratory, each with a candle in hand." (Mercure galant, Dec. 1683, pp. 314-316).]

First, some background on Marie-Thérèse's link to this convent. The first "fondatrice" of the Carmel of Sainte-Thérèse — also known as the Little Carmel or the "Carmel of the rue du Bouloir" — was the king's mother, Anne of Austria. Then, in December 1663 new letters-patent were signed, making the convent independent from the so-called Great Carmel; and Marie-Thérèse was named "fondatrice" — a gesture that would permit her "to conveniently make spiritual retreats there," y faire commodement de retraites spirituelles. For almost twenty years she did just that. She would often meet Mme de Guise there; and, as a child, the dauphin sometimes accompanied his mother. It also appears that Marie-Thérèse used the Little Carmel — situated just off the rue Saint-Honoré near the Louvre — as a base for her activities in the charitable Confraternity of St. Charles Borromeo, of which she and the dauphin were central figures and whose mother sodality worked out of the nearby Church of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie. (For more on the Little Carmel, see De la rue du Boulay à Créteil, 1664-1964, Paris: Ligel, 1964, p. 9; and Paul and Marie-Louise Biver, Abbayes, monastères, couvents de femmes, Paris: PUF, 1975, pp. 423-24.)

Judging from the above paragraph in the Mercure galant, Marie-Thérèse had been granted a private "oratory," oratoire, in the church of the Carmel — an oratory linked to her charitable activities. That explains why, during the memorial service "twenty-four paupers whom the Carmelites had garbed went to the oratory, each with a candle in hand." Indeed, the Little Carmel was an integral part of Marie-Thérèse's devotional and social world, and her loss was deeply felt by the nuns. Hence the latters' decision to sponsor the service of December 20, 1683.

Did Mme de Guise play a role in this commission? The nuns' correspondence with the Medici secretary (Florence, Archivio di Stato, Med. del Prin., 4783) does not permit an answer to that question. True, Mme de Guise was the queen's close friend; she was Louis XIV's first cousin; and she was a frequent visitor to the Little Carmel. To please this wealthy friend of the convent, the nuns may therefore have expressed their desire to have Charpentier write the music. That does not suggest, however, that the music he wrote for the Carmel was also performed at court. Without the nuns' approval, Madame de Guise would scarcely have presumed to transmit any portion of this commission to the musicians of the royal chapel, for performance at court. In fact, by December 1683 relations between the princess and the nuns were turning sour, and Mme de Guise soon transferred her allegiance to the Great Carmel, where her childhood friend, Louise de la Vallière, was a nun (Portraits, p. 224).

What does the Latin text tell us about these works?


Pierre Portes' poem provides clues to the dating of the work. That is, he alludes to "silent organs," and to "stopping amusements, games, and dancing," Læta sileant organa, Cessate lusus, jocci et choreæ. In other words, the poet is describing the days immediately following the queen's unexpected death, when all amusements were being canceled -- among them the ceremony that ended the school year at the Collège de Louis-le-Grand. Scheduled for August 16, this fête was transformed into an expression of mourning.

Several times Portes uses the word Jacet, "she is lying," elle gît. That is, the queen is lying on her bier as a gisant does: "She lies there, alas! she lies there, oh anguish!" Jacet, heu! jacet o dolor! Like the allusion to stopping all amusements, the use of jacet suggests that Portes' poem was written during the first half of August. Indeed, the mourning iconography at Louis-le-Grand used these very same words, jacet and dolor. A "great marble tomb" was the central object on the platform that had been set up at the college chapel. Near it were the weeping Fine Arts, who had abandoned their instruments. By a sort of double entendre that suggests both the instruments and the gisant, "on the broken instruments of Poetry, Music, Tragedy, and Eloquence" — which had been silenced that day — JACET, JACET, as the triple echo of these fine arts amidst the public anguish, Et on lit sur les instruments rompus de la Poésie, de la Musique, de la Tragédie et de l'Éloquence, JACET, JACET comme le triple écho de ces beaux-arts au milieu de la douleur publique. In sum, "lying in state," "anguish, and the cancellation of entertainments — "while we were preparing games, lorsque nous préparions des jeux — were in the thoughts of more than one Latinist in mid-August 1683. (Catherine Cessac, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Paris, 1988, p. 141.)

In obitum and its related élévation

The Latin texts for the In obitum and the élévation provide additional clues to support the argument that, lavish though they were, these compositions were written for the Carmelites. The nobles of the realm are not evoked here. Rather, the emphasis is upon the "people," populi, and upon the "poor," pauperi, and the "wretched," miseri. In other words, the text suggests that people of every rank would be attending this service — among them "twenty-four paupers" who processed in the church as embodiments of the charitable activities that the queen had been carrying on for almost two decades. The image of needy people is continued in the élévation, where Hunger and Thirst cry out to Jesus for food and drink.

The text of In obitum includes what seems to be a veiled evocation of the queen's generosity — her generosity toward the poor, and her generosity toward her one-time rival for the king's affections. That is to say, Faith, Hope, and Charity sing a trio. Charity was, of course, a central force in the Confraternity of St. Charles Borromeo, so the presence of this virtue in an oratorio for Marie-Thérèse comes as no surprise. But do Faith and Hope sing with Charity simply because these three virtues are inseparable? Or are Faith, Hope, and Charity an allusion to the fact that, only three years earlier, Marie-Thérèse had been instrumental in the publication of Louise de la Vallière's meditations on Faith, Hope, and Charity. (For the role that these three virtues play in La Vallière's Réflexions sur la miséricorde de Dieu, see John J. Conley, The Suspicion of Virtue, Ithaca, 2002, pp. 100 and 109-117.)

The text of In obitum also provides clues to the dating of the work. In their trio the three virtues employ two tenses. They weep and lament in the present tense (ploremus, lamentemus), and they use this tense to tell of the nuns' and the assembled worshipers' rather formalized laments, as expressed that day during the pontifical mass. Faith, Hope and Charity also employ the past tense, to tell how they had earlier "strengthened, sustained, encouraged" the mourners who "wept" for the queen and "bewailed their lot" (firmabam, sustinebam, fovebam). In other words, this use of two tenses tells us that the initial period of wailing has ended, and that worshipers are now expressing their grief in a celebratory way, during this memorial service held after the burial. In fact, sufficient time has elapsed for the gisant who was portrayed in Luctus to be depicted as having already risen to the heavens in a veritable apotheosis: "has flown to heaven, ad cælestem .... evolavit. (Duron translates the perfect indicative verb, evolavit as a present tense verb, "rising.") By contrast, the iconography for the ceremony held on August 16 at the Collège de Louis-le-Grand evoked the procession that had carried the queen's remains to Saint-Denis a few days earlier, and it showed the queen's soul perched on a rainbow that had been seen that day. In other words, on August 16 Marie-Thérèse was depicted as rising to heaven, while In obitum shows her at a somewhat later time, when she had reached heaven.

In short, there are sufficient clues in the texts that Charpentier set to music, for us to be confident that the large funereal corpus that he copied into notebooks XXXVI-XXXIX was in fact commissioned by the nuns of the Little Carmel, for their pontifical mass of December 20, 1683.

Some old assumptions that are refuted by the facts

This brings us to some unexamined assumptions that musicologists have been repeating for decades but that do not hold up when confronted by seventeenth-century sources. Taking these assumptions as fact, and building much of his argument upon them, Jean Duron concluded that neither Luctus, nor In obitum and its associated De profundis could have been written for services in Paris, especially not in a Carmelite church.

Assumption 1: "The King's Music," Jean Duron repeated during our brief conversation, "followed the king," suivait le roi; and so Charpentier's music could not have been performed in Paris unless Louis XIV himself went to Paris.

Evidence to the contrary: The king frequently loaned his musicians to one or another Parisian female convent (and many of these musicians were males):

Indeed, the evidence contradicting this assumption is so ample that Marcelle Benoit could write: "Louis XIV 'lends' his musicians or those of the Opera, to dauphins, or to princes of the blood .... And to his bastards too. But also to less noble -- if not less important -- personages ..." Louis XIV « prête » ses musiciens ou ceux de l'Opéra, aux dauphins, aux princes du sang ... À ses bâtards également. Mais aussi à de moins nobles — sinon moins importants -- personnages .... (Versailles et les musiciens du roi, Paris: Picard, 1971, pp. 78-79).

These "loans" sometimes involved festivities organized by one or another of the Parisian convents for women. For example, Marie-Ange Deuvignacq-Glessgen, L'ordre de la Visitation à Paris aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Paris: Cerf, 1994), p. 221-22, tells of a canonization at the Convent of the Visitation on the rue Saint-Antoine in 1666. The nuns rented organs and had them installed in the tribunes; they were coached in gregorian chant by a priest from the nearby parish church of Saint-Paul; and "for the music the king agreed to lend his twelve silver trumpets" (and his trumpeters), pour la musique le Roi accepta de prêter ses douze trompettes d'argent. None of the king's singers seems to have been loaned to the convent, however, for the nuns themselves sang "en musique" that day, sometimes a capella, sometimes in echo with the organ.

The king himself did not necessarily put in an appearance at events where his musicians performed. For example, he loaned the King's Music when Mlle de Guise's sister was enthroned as Abbess of Montmartre in 1657. The detailed account that has survived would have mentioned Louis XIV had he been present that day. It does not do so. (BnF, ms. fr., 22431, fol. 109ff, a printed booklet.) Here too the nuns sang "en musique." Accompanied by a nun playing the viol, a nun sang a piece composed by royal musician Jean Viellot, their music master: "The King's Music, directed by Monsieur Viellot, continued the Kyrie eleison and the rest of the mass," La Musique du Roy, conduite par Monsieur Viellot, continua le Kyrie eleyson et le reste de la Messe (p. 5). At the end of the service "while the Music was singing this hymn of joy and thanksgiving [Te Deum]," tandis que la Musique chantoit ce cantique de joye et d'action de graces, the nuns professed their obedience to the new abbess. Loret provides further details about this service, informing us that forty singers from the King's Music, and an unspecified number of instrumentalists, had been sent to the abbey: "Several psalms, motets, hymns, were sung by musicians, who charmed by their sweetness ... and to prove what I [Loret] am saying, without resorting to hyperbole, in addition to lutes and viols, Berthod and Legros, whose voices are worth an empire, were among the forty singers," Pluzieurs Psalmes, Motets, Cantiques,/ Furent chantez par des Musiques/ Qui charmérent de leurs douceurs/ ... Et pour prouver ce que je dis,/ sans débiter des hyperboles/ Outre les luts et les Violes,/ Parmy quarante qui chantoient,/ Berthod et Le-Gros en êtoient,/ Dont les voix valent un Empire.... (La Muze historique, Paris, 1857-, II, p. 337). At the time, both of the singers named by Loret were part of the King's Music: Blaise Berthod was singing with the Musique de la Chapelle, and Claude Legros with the Musique de la Chambre (Marcelle Benoit, Musiques de Cour, Paris: Picard, 1971, pp. 10, 20.) For more on Veillot, see Loret, Muze, III, p. 267 where Veillot directs music he composed for the nuns of Montmartre in October 1660, during a service attended by the royal family, and where the only royal servant participating in the performance appears to have been Veillot himself. In other words, the King's Music did not necessarily "follow" the king: Louis XIV could leave them behind at Versailles when he worshiped in Paris, and he could dispatch his musicians to Paris even though he himself remained at court.
To summarize: Louis XIV accepted requests for the loan of his Music from various religious communities in the capital, even when he did not plan to attend the devotions. Although the type of details just quoted become scarce after 1670, when the weekly doggerel poems launched by Loret peter out, there is no reason to believe that Louis XIV subsequently refused to grant such favors, and would therefore have refused to provide musicians for the "solemn service" honoring the memory of his late consort, held at the Carmel of Sainte-Thérèse on December 20, 1683.

Assumption 2: "the three vocal parts of Luctus are for men, which is scarcely imaginable at a Carmelite convent" (Duron, p. vi)

Evidence to the contrary: Male singers did in fact perform at special services organized by the Carmelites (although, as I have shown above, there is no reason to think that these three men performed Luctus for the Little Carmel). Men did not, of course, mingle with the nuns, who remained behind the grill that separated them from the portion of the church to which laymen and laywomen — and hired musicians — were admitted. These special services could be quite lavish: A service was held for the Feast of the Assumption in August 1665 "at the pious Carmelites," chez les pieuses Carmélites — that is, at the Carmel of the rue du Bouloir, the very church where Charpentier's music honoring the queen was performed in 1683:

"Next they sang salut, where harpischords and lutes, violins and theorbos equaled celestial orbs, the symphony and the harmony that Plato gave this great body. In addition, the famous La Grille, who sings as sweetly as a girl, made his beautiful voice heard, which charms the greatest of kings; and Cambert, who beat time — having set all these wonderful concerts to music — showed that he is an expert." En suite on chante les Salluts,/ Où les Clavessins & et Luths, / Les Violons & les Théorbes/ Egalent des célestes Orbes,/ La symphonie & les accords/ Que Platon donne à ce grand Corps./ De plus, le fameux de la Grille/ Qui chante aussi doux qu'une Fille,/ Y fait ouyr sa belle Voix/ Qui charme le plus grand des Roys,/ et Cambert qui bat la mesure/ Ayant donné la Tablature/ De tous ces ravissans Concers,/ Y fait voir qu'il est des Expers. (Continuers of Loret, I, col. 189).

Here we recognize the pattern encountered for the Guise benediction at Montmartre: the two musicians named by these versifiers were court musicians. In addition, in the margin the source specifies that Robert Cambert was the "music master of Queen Mother Anne of Austria"; and we know that, when this performance took place, Dominique Normandin, known as "La Grille," was a musician of the King's Chamber (Benoit, Musiques de Cour, pp. 10, 28). There is no evidence that Louis XIV attended this service. In other words, these lines by Loret and his successors not only explode the myth that males could scarcely have performed for the Carmelites, they also poke a huge hole in the notion that the King's Music "followed the king" and could not perform in Paris unless he was present.

Assumption 3: The strict vows taken by such orders at the Carmelites or the Benedictines preclude lavish services with music performed by choirs and and orchestras.

Evidence to the contrary: As we have seen, above, virtually the entire King's Music is known to have performed in the small church of Saint-Pierre-de-Montmartre ? where singers and instrumentalists must have filled half the public part of the church, and the select group of guests the other half. And although we do not know the exact number of royal performers sent to the Little Carmel in August 1665, that service appears to have been just as lavish at the one at Montmartre — and perhaps more so, because it followed so closely upon Marie-Thérèse's nomination as "fondatrice" of the convent.

To conclude

We must rethink and question some of the trite hypotheses, to the effect that male musicians could not possibly perform at the Carmelites; that the King's Music was tied to the Sun King by a very short leash; and that lavish musical performances must be ruled out during devotions organized by or for strict female religious orders. Male members of the King's Music did indeed perform for the Carmelites, and they did so in the king's absence. In fact, special devotional events at the Carmelites differed little from events organized at the very strict Royal Benedictine Abbey of Montmartre — where as we have seen, forty members of the King's Music performed on one occasion.

In other words, it made no difference whether nuns observed an austere rule, as did the Carmelites and the Benedictines of Montmartre: male musicians were allowed to sing in the naves of their churches during the lavish devotional events they sponsored. In addition, it was accepted practice for lay composers (especially for composers who were in one way or another associated with the royal family) to write music for these devotions and to bring male singers, female singers, and instrumentalists to sing and perform "symphonies" in the church. Some — and perhaps all — of these performers belonged to the Royal Music. Finally, the king's presence was not a prerequisite to their participation.

The evidence presented in this Musing — and in the associated Musing about the queen's funeral, funérailles (Jean Duron on the Queen's "funeral") shows why I presented, in the way I did, the circumstances surrounding the composition and performance of Marc-Antoine Charpentier's works honoring the late Queen Marie-Thérèse.