The livre d'airs et de simphonies meslés de quelques fragmens d'opéra 1697 of Pierre Gillier : an edition and study : a thesis submitted to the New Zealand School of Music in fulfilment of the degree of Master of Music in Musicology
The Livre d’Airs et de Simphonies meslés de quelques fragmens d’Opéra de la Composition de P. Gillier (Book of Airs and Instrumental Pieces mixed with some operatic fragments composed by Pierre Gillier) was published in Paris in 1697. Its contents are dedicated to the twenty-three year-old Philippe duc de Chartres (son of Philippe I duc d’Orléans, only brother of Louis XIV).
Of the life of Pierre Gillier (1665- died after 1713), we know only that he possessed an haute-contre voice, and was employed as a chamber musician in the households of Philippe I duc d’Orléans and of his son, Philippe II. The Parisian courts of the Dauphin, and of Philippe I supported the secular arts that Louis XIV (self-exiled at Versailles), had rejected.
There was an insatiable appetite for amateur music making in late seventeenth-century France, notably in the broader societal context of airs: the salons. Composers generally wrote individual airs (of the serious and drinking types), complete operas, or theatre works. In such a context, Gillier’s publication is unique: his declared aim was to assemble a collection of serious songs linked together tonally in suites with instrumental pieces by means of their keys, for chamber music performance. As a precursor to the arrival in France of the multi-movement sonata and cantata, Gillier’s grouping together of instrumental and vocal movements to make larger musical entities has exceptional interest. His procedure has close links with theatrical practice.
The thesis includes a critical edition of Gillier's complete collection made from the copy preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France as F-Pn/ Rés. Vm7 305. The edition is prefaced by a study of performance practices in vocal and instrumental music in late seventeenth-century France.