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date: 09 December 2019

Saint Lambert, Monsieur delocked

  • Rebecca Harris-Warrick


(fl Paris, c1700). French harpsichordist, pedagogue and composer. Remarks in his Principes suggest that he worked as a harpsichord teacher, primarily in Paris. The first name ‘Michel’, frequently attributed to him, derives from the conflation of Saint Lambert with the singer and composer Michel Lambert, an error that goes back at least as far as Walther’s Musicalisches Lexicon (1732).

Les principes du clavecin was, as its author claimed, the first method book for the harpsichord, antedating François Couperin's L’art de toucher le clavecin by 14 years. Its first 18 chapters, devoted primarily to fundamentals of music, contain significant information regarding the range of the harpsichord, the performance practice of the slur (of particular value for the performance of préludes non mesurés) and a chapter on metre and tempo. Of the remaining chapters, one is devoted to fingering (including a fully fingered minuet and gavotte) and the other nine to ornamentation. By reproducing and commenting on the ornament symbols of four 17th-century keyboard composers – Chambonnières, Nivers, Lebègue and especially D’Anglebert – Saint Lambert provided a useful comparative perspective on the performance practices of his day....

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F.-J. Fétis: Biographie universelle des musiciens