Le Cerf de la Viéville, Jean Laurent, Seigneur de Freneuse
- Julie Anne Sadie
- and Albert Cohen
(b Rouen, 1674; d Rouen, Nov 10, 1707). French writer on music. He was educated by the Jesuits and studied philosophy and law before assuming his father’s post as Keeper of the Seals of the Parliament of Normandy in 1696. Spurred on by the appearance of the Paralèle des italiens et des françois (1702) of his Normandy neighbour, François Raguenet, Le Cerf brought out in 1704 the Première Partie of his Comparaison de la musique italienne et de la musique françoise modelled on the writings of Claude and Charles Perrault. In a series of three dialogues conducted by a count, a countess and a chevalier (representing Le Cerf’s own voice), he began to limn out the musical aesthetic prevailing in France during the late 17th century. Taking Raguenet’s Paralèle (which is, in fact, a rejection of French music and its practice in favour of Italian counterparts) as a point of departure, Le Cerf espoused a simple, rational, ‘natural’ art over one based primarily on sensual beauty, an art that finds its expression in the ideals represented in the music of Lully. A review appeared in the ...