Francois Joseph Gossec - Encyclopedia

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FRANCOIS JOSEPH GOSSEC (1734-1829), French musical composer, son of a small farmer, was born at the village of Vergnies, in Belgian Hainaut, and showing early a taste for music became a choir-boy at Antwerp. He went to Paris in 1751 and was taken up by Rameau. He became conductor of a private band kept by La Popeliniere, a wealthy amateur, and gradually determined to do something to revive the study of instrumental music in France. He had his own first symphony performed in 1754, and as conductor to the Prince de Conde's orchestra he produced several operas and other compositions of his own. He imposed his influence upon French music with remarkable success, founded the Concert des Amateurs in 1770, organized the Ecole de Chant in 1784, was conductor of the band of the Garde Nationale at the Revolution, and was appointed (with Mehul and Cherubini) inspector of the Conservatoire de Musique when this institution was created in 1795. He was an original member of the Institute and a chevalier of the legion of honour. Outside France he was but little known, and his own numerous compositions, sacred and secular, were thrown into the shade by those of men of greater genius; but he has a place in history as the inspirer of others, and as having powerfully stimulated the revival of instrumental music. He died at Passy on the 16th of February 1829.

See the Lives by P. Hedouin (1852) and E. G. J. Gregoir (1878).

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