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Jean Gilles: Requiem


  • Thursday December 22nd 2022
  • Royal Chapel
  • 21h | 1h15 sans entracte
Homepage Jean Gilles: Requiem 2022


Eugénie Lefebvre Soprano

Clément Debieuvre Countertenor

Sebastian Monti Tenor

David Witczak Baritone

Les Folies Françoises (conductor Patrick Cohën-Akenine)

Les Pages et les Chantres du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles

Fabien Armengaud Conductor

Nicolas Bucher Great organ



Jean Gilles, born in Tarascon in 1688, and maître de chapelle at the Toulouse cathedral from 1697, left a body of religious works of exceptional quality. Acknowledged throughout the kingdom as a first rank composer, he died too young, aged thirty-seven, to have a real career. He did, however, leave a unanimously admired masterpiece: his Requiem, performed after his death more than fifteen times at the Concert Spirituel in Paris.

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The Messe des morts by Jean Gilles was the most famous French requiem and performed throughout the 18th century. The original version, completed in 1705, was performed for the funerals of Gilles himself (1705), Campra (1744), Royer (1756), Rameau (1764), Stanisław Leszczyński (1766) and Louis XV. Sources from the early 18th century report that the composition of the Messe des morts was the result of a private commission. Apparently there had been no discussion of money between the composer and his patrons, and when the time came for Gilles to be paid for his work, he argued that, in view of the quality of his composition, the compensation offered was unflattering. So, he declined payment and took back his Messe des morts, saying that in the circumstances he preferred it to be used for his own funeral. And that is exactly what happened. “For this purpose, he sealed his score with his will in which he asked the Chapter to have this mass sung for the repose of his soul”. To our great delight, Fabien Armengaud and his troops from the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles perform this masterpiece again…

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The Royal Chapel of the Château de Versailles

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