Galant (Fr.; It. galante)
- Daniel Heartz
- , revised by Bruce Alan Brown
(Fr.; It. galante)
A term widely used during the 18th century to denote music with lightly accompanied, periodic melodies, and the appropriate manner of performing the same. ‘Being galant, in general’, wrote Voltaire, ‘means seeking to please’. The old French meaning of the general term with its emphasis on valour had by the 1630s given way to a newer emphasis on social or amatory grace: titles like Campra’s L’Europe galante (1697), Rameau’s Les Indes galantes (1735), Guillemain’s Sonates en quatuors, ou Conversations galantes et amusantes (1743) and Graun’s Le feste galanti (1748) are to be understood in that latter sense. Watteau’s epochal paintings of fêtes galantes contributed further to the vogue of the term. Applied to letters, the term took on a meaning close to ‘French courtly manner’, as in a treatise by C.F. Hunold (Menantes), Die allerneuste Manier höflich und galant zu schreiben (...