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date: 25 January 2020

Apothéose (Fr.)locked

  • Davitt Moroney
  • , revised by Julie Anne Sadie



An instrumental musical form whose programmatic element honoured a dead musician, usually Lully. In an apothéose the favoured dead are welcomed by Apollo (representing Louis XIV) on to Mount Parnassus.

Surviving apothéoses are few, and the earliest survive as satirical scenarios. The anonymous Le triomphe de Lulli aux Champs Elysées ( F-Pn 6542, no.173, f.260) dates from 1687, the year of Lully’s death. In it Lully, defended by Polyhymnia, is subjected to a trial – examining musical and moral charges brought against him by French musicians – before being honoured by Apollo and the heroes of his operas. The following year François de Callières included an account of Lully’s reception on Parnassus in his Histoire poétique de la guerre nouvellement déclamée entre les anciens et les modernes (1688), in which an Italian musician tries to thwart Lully’s arrival by reporting Lully’s sharp practices in the theatre to Orpheus (who can also be taken as representing the king); the ever-confident Lully brushes aside the charges and invites Orpheus to join him in creating ‘an opera that will be worth money to us’, a proposal Orpheus firmly rejects....

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Revue musicale
Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France