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Charles Dieupart (Composer)

Born: c1670 (HOASM) or post 1667 (OCC, AMG) - France
Died: c1740

Charles [François] Dieupart was a French violinist, harpsichordist and composer. Although he is known as Charles in most English accounts, other evidence indicates his name was François. He is first noted in a professional capacity in a tax statement of 1695, which lists him amongst the "organists and harpsichord teachers." He subsequently moved to England, possibly stemming from his having met Elizabeth Countess of Sandwich, who had travelled to the continent for health reasons. She was the daughter of John Wilmot, Count of Rochester, as well as the daughter-in-law of Admiral Sir Edward Montagu, a relative of Samuel Pepys. Dieupart dedicated to her the six suites published in Amsterdam.

Charles Dieupart was active in London from the early 1700's; in 1704 he composed the incidental music to Peter Motteux's play Britain's Happiness, staged at the Drury Lane Theatre. He worked with the Italian 'cellist Nicola Haym and the violinist Thomas Clayton on Arsinoe (1705), the first London venture in Italian-style opera, also produced at the Drury Lane Theater; in the orchestra, with Dieupart playing harpsichord, was his friend the musician and composer John Christopher Pepusch, and the flutist and oboist John Loeillet, originally from Ghent. The collaboration continued with Dieupart acting as organiser and harpsichordist for Bononcini's Trionfo di Camilla (1706) and Alessandro Scarlatti's Pirro e Demetrio (Pyrrhus and Demetrius) in 1708. He also provided arrangements and recitatives for the latter production. He played the harpsichord and provided arrangements and recitatives in both productions. He also collaborated with Motteux on the latter's play Love's Triumph. In 1711, the Drury Lane enterprise went bankrupt, unable to compete with Georg Frideric Handel's newly formed company when Rinaldo met with enormous success. He had reached a stage where, according to a French observer, he "was on the point of leaving for the Indies in the wake of a surgeon who proposed to use music as an anaesthetic for lithotomies." Hawkins states that from this point on Dieupart was obliged for his subsistence to organise concerts (somewhat successfully in 1711 and 1712), to play in G.F. Handel's orchestra, and to teach harpsichord. However, notwithstanding that "in the capacity of a master of that instrument Dieupart had admission into some of the best families in the Kingdom," he spent his remaining years in poverty. Hawkins reports that, before his death "he grew negligent, and frequented concerts performed in ale-houses, in obscure parts of the town, and distinguished himself not [less] there, than he would have done in an assembly of the best judges, by his neat and elegant manner of playing the solos of Corelli."

Charles Dieupart composed Six Suittes de clavecin, which were dedicated to the daughter of the Earl of Rochester; they are characterised by a set number of movements presented in a fixed order. This is a lucid German influence but the dances within the suites are French. He published (Amsterdam, 1701) two versions of the suites, one with a figured bass ('cello and treble) and the other for solo harpsichord. J.S. Bach and Johann Gottfried Walther copied out certain of his compositions. Besides stage works and suites, Dieupart also composed songs, sonatas and sinfonia. J.S. Bach and Johann Gottfried Walther both esteemed the music of Dieupart and copied out certain of his compositions (J.S. Bach during the period 1709-1716). Unlike his French contemporaries, Dieupart treated the suite as a musical unit containing a series of dances fixed in number and type: ouverture, courante, sarabande, gavotte, menuet, and gigue. In essentials this is identical with the movement structure that J.S. Bach adopted in the English Suites (BWV 806-811), the Cello Suites (BWV 1007-1012), and the keyboard Partitas (BWV 825-830). J.S. Bach's first English Suite contains similarities with Dieupart's "A major gigue".


Source: All music Guide (Author: Keith Johnson); HOASM Website; Malcom Boyd, editor: Oxford Composer Companion J.S. Bach (Oxford University Press, 1999, Article author: Richard D.P. Jones)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2008)

Works performed by J.S. Bach

Suites de claveçin - copied and performed by J.S. Bach in Weimar 1709-1714

Works in J.S. Bach's Library

Suite f. Blockflöte u. B.c. Nr. 5 F-dur: Ouverture

Links to other Sites

HOASM: François [Charles] Dieupart
Charles Dieupart (

Charles François Dieupart (Grainger)


R. Weißwenger: Johann Sebastian Bachs Notenbibliothek (Kassel, 1992), pp. 190-195, 200-2002, 280-281

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