Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre

Feminale of Music

A baroque painting by the composer Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre

The Composer Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre is described as the »miracle of our century« in the Musicalisches Lexicon of 1732. »It can be said that never a person of her gender possessed such great talent for musical composition and for the admirable way in which she played the harpsichord and the organ.« – Edouard Titon du Tillet.

Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre was born in Paris in March 1665 as the daughter of an organist and harpsichord teacher. The parents' aim is to turn their children into professional musicians. In doing so, they are following the family tradition that has produced musicians for several generations. The investment in a solid musical education pays off. Their daughter Elisabeth is pursuing a musical career like her other siblings. Already at the age of five she plays in front of King Louis XIV, who from then on not only supports her financially, but also allows her to perform her works later. In the Musicalisches Lexicon of 1732 the editor Johann Gottfried Walther, music writer and composer, speaks of the »miracle of our century«.

As a virtuoso as well as a composer, she became known and recognized during her lifetime. The opera »Céphale et Procris«, a tragédie-lyrique with prologue and five acts, is the first opera ever performed by a French female composer at the Opéra Paris.

Her father died in 1702, only two years later both her husband and her son, after which she retired from society and gave almost exclusively house concerts. The audience is made up of the upper class due to the high quality of her musical work. Composers and musicians are also among the guests to present new works. She died in Paris in 1729 and left behind an impressive life's work. Today, the Frenchwoman is one of the established female composers of the Baroque since the women's movement in the 1980s drew attention to her again and in 1986 a CD box with numerous compositions by the brilliant musician was released.


Passe-pieds and Nymphs from the opera »Céphale et Procris«, libretto by Joseph-François Duché de Vancy published in 2018 by Opera Ritrovata. Performers: Ariel Pisturino and Amanda A. Keenan, Stephen Karr, Mishkar Núñez-Fredell, Boryana Popova, and Leila Núñez-Fredell, Alison Spieth Perrine, Maksim Velichkin, Nicholas Casillas

Harpsichord Suite No. 2 Prelude, published and produced by OnClassical, 2017, recorded by Saletta acustica 'Eric James', Pove del Grappa, 2017: Elisabetta Guglielmin, harpsichord

Cantate Le Sommeil d'Ulisse (Odysseus'sleep) 1715 – Aria, published by Ernst's Early Music recorded at the concert of the Quirinus Ensemble The Hague: Maria voor 't Hekke, mezzo-soprano


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