chapter  1
Charting Charpentier’s ‘Worlds’ through his Mélanges
WithPatricia M. Ranum
Pages 30

This chapter shows that Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s creative life was shaped by hierarchical constraints that contrast sharply with the increasing freedom artists enjoyed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Yet within these constraints, Charpentier developed into a masterful and highly original composer. The chapter demonstrates how the composer’s conditions of employment are mirrored in the content of his autograph manuscripts. From 1670 until late 1687, the princely House of Guise put its stamp on the autograph corpus known as the ‘Melanges de Charpentier’. Musically gifted, but born into a clan of scribes and secretaries, Charpentier lacked ties to the musical guilds of Paris, who protected their own and made life very difficult for outsiders. From 1698 until his death in 1704, Charpentier’s final ‘world’ - the Sainte-Chapelle -doubtlessly brought more constraints, because centuries of liturgical routine had shaped devotions there.