Composer. Often described as "The father of French keyboard music". Born in Paris, he was the most famous member of a distinguished musical family. Even in his lifetime he was called "Couperin le Grand". At age 18 he succeeded his father as organist of St. Gervais Church; King Louis XIV appointed him to the Royal Chapel at Versailles in 1693, and he became Music Master of the Royal Family in 1701. Although he wrote sacred and chamber works, Couperin's fame rests almost entirely on his harpsichord music. He was the first to fully understand the instrument and realize its potentialities. In all he produced 234 harpsichord pieces, collected in 27 suites which he published in four volumes between 1713 and 1730. Historian Milton Cross enthused, "Nothing up to that time could compare with these pieces for resourcefulness of technique, aptness of musical expression, effectiveness of atmosphere, and successful transmutation into tone of pictures, suggestions, customs, incidents, and objects". Couperin also wrote a treatise, "The Art of Harpsichord Playing" (1716), that influenced J. S. Bach. Poor health forced him into retirement in 1730. Debussy believed Couperin represented the true spirit of French music, and Ravel paid tribute to him with his piano suite, "Le Tombeau de Couperin" (1919).
Bio by: Bobb Edwards
Gravesite Details Cemetery closed in 1781, destroyed in 1796. Remains presumed moved to the Paris Catacombs.