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Josse-François-Joseph Benaut
Birth: 1743
Arrondissement Kortrijk
West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium
Death: Jul. 13, 1794
City of Paris
Île-de-France, France

Composer, Harpsichordist, Organist. A prolific Belgian-born musician, active in France during the reign of Louis XVI. He later became a Catholic priest and was executed during the French Revolution. The son of an organist, Benuat moved to Paris in the late 1760s and married a merchant's daughter in 1771. For years he made a living as a harpsichord teacher, publishing music for the popular marketplace, editing scores, and writing religious compositions on spec in hopes of securing a church appointment. After his wife's death in 1779 he took holy orders. In 1783 Benaut entered private service for the Prince de Soubise at his palatial Paris estate. He ceased publishing soon afterwards - the Prince may have objected - but two collections of arias with variations for keyboard were issued under the name of his daughter Marie-Thérèse in 1787 and 1788. Her ages at the time (9 and 10) reveal a prodigy. The start of the Revolution in 1789 left Benaut unemployed and in danger. To protect himself he swore a loyalty oath as required by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy (1790), and was elected pastor of Saint-Cyr in 1791. But the beginning of the Reign of Terror in September 1793 brought a wave of anti-clerical reaction throughout France, making priests liable to summary execution for nothing more than malicious accusations against them. In November Benaut was arrested on suspicion of making contact with the Catholic and Royal Army of Vendée, a royalist insurgency. He was brought before the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal on July 13, 1794, and guillotined the same day at the Place du Trône Renversé (now called Place de la Nation). His body was thrown into a mass grave with other Terror victims at the Picpus Cemetery. The orphaned Marie-Thérèse hid in Paris as a laundress and died of typhoid fever in August 1795. She was 17, her early musical talent unfulfilled. Josse-François-Joseph Benaut was quite industrious during his short career: between 1772 and 1784 he brought out 260 compositions, 120 of which survive. The bulk consists of popular keyboard arrangements of arias and opera overtures, but he also produced 12 Organ Masses, six Magnificats, a Te Deum, two keyboard concertos, chamber sonatas, motets, ceremonial pieces and songs. His Galant manner had roots in outdated Baroque techniques, though he was not as conservative as all that. He had a broad knowledge of European music and experimented with novel scoring, employing Scottish bagpipes in one piece. Benaut's book of keyboard sonatas (1773) was written for both harpsichord and fortepiano. The piano was then still new in France, and it's a sign of his creativity that critics believe the sonatas are more effective for that instrument. (bio by: Bobb Edwards) 
Picpus Cemetery
City of Paris
Île-de-France, France
Plot: Mass Grave No. 1 for Victims of the Revolution
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Rik Van Beveren
Record added: May 22, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 70195303
Josse-François-Joseph Benaut
Added by: Creative Commons
Josse-François-Joseph Benaut
Added by: Creative Commons
Josse-François-Joseph Benaut
Added by: Creative Commons
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