ABSTRACT

Marin Marais (1656-1728) is regarded today as a central figure in the French school of viol playing. At over 600 individual pieces, his total oeuvre is remarkable not only in terms of its size but also because of its enduring appeal to viol players and listeners alike. Scholars have placed considerable emphasis upon Marais’s career as both performer and composer, but our estimation of the breadth of his talents still remains somewhat incomplete. Marais operated within multiple spheres: as a court musician performing both solo and chamber music, as a viol teacher, as a highly successful composer, and as a conductor of opera. It is in the area of opera that his contributions remain least well known: his tragédies have begun recently to receive some attention from scholars and performers, but there is as yet no scholarly (or even a facsimile) edition of them.1 However, since the early 1980s, some significant steps have been taken: the publication of facsimile editions of Marais’s solo and chamber music and, significantly, the publication of a sevenvolume collected edition devoted to his instrumental music have added very positively to the formation of a more complete picture of Marais as a performer and composer.2