Daily Archives: July 14, 2010

Marie Antoinette’s Affaire de Musique

by Franz Xaver Wagenschön (1726-1790)

Given Marie Antoinette’s Austrian heritage, it’s not suprising she adored music.  Under the direction of the famous composer, Gluck, she grew up listening to the works of Viennese masters in a court rich with the arts.  At an early age, she learned how to play the harpsichord and on one special day, in July of 1762, the precocious six year old Mozart performed for Empress Maria Theresa and her family, Marie Antoinette in attendance.

Her appreciation for emotionally resonating music only grew once she moved to Versailles. She attended operas and threw fabulous parties replete with music and dancing. As shown in this 1774 painting by Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty, she played the harp before the French Court.

During her period at the Petit Trianon, she acted in plays and comic operas in her private theater. There’s a charming DVD/Documentary (La Petite Musique de Marie-Antoinette) where music by Grossec and Grety is played in this very room where Marie Antoinette once performed.

What most people might not realize is that she even composed her own music for her friends, in particular C’est Mon Ami (below) and Portrait Charmant.  

There’s an album I’d love to get my clutches on, Les Musiques de Marie-Antoinette, except it’s only offered on Amazon France.  But if you have the time and the inclination, it gives a list of music she enjoyed, which might be worth stringing together piecemeal. 

To have a Marie Antoinette experience at home, though, I’d probably go with Le Salon de Musique de Marie-Antoinette by Sandrine Chatron. You can also download C’est Mon Ami on Amazon.

And if you just can’t get enough, Chateau de Versailles on Itunes has some worthy music/videos to check out. Yes, for free. Contain yourself.