Marc-Antoine Charpentier was one of the most prolific, versatile, and inspiring French composers of the Baroque.
One of the most prolific, versatile, and inspiring French composers of the Baroque, Marc-Antoine Charpentier lived from 1643 to 1704. Likely educated by the Jesuits in Paris, he later studied music in Rome, under the great maestro Giacomo Carissimi. As he returned to Paris, he became the house composer of the Duchesse de Guise for around 17 years. During this time he wrote an impressive amount of (mostly) vocal works, including psalms, hymns, a Mass, a Magnificat, and a series of oratorios. Most of these pieces are still enjoyed today. The prelude to his “Te Deum,” for instance, is famous for being the signature tune for the European Broadcasting Union and is played in the opening of Eurovision events, not to mention its being featured in numerous movie soundtracks.
Charpentier’s “Dix Meditations pour le Carême” (“10 Meditations for Lent”) is a musical path in 10 stations that accompanies the audience, step by step, all the way to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is scored for three male voices (high tenor, tenor, and bass), with a continuo accompaniment. Charpentier’s style is marked by powerful musical statements and his lyrics avoid repetition, allowing each statement to stand powerful on its own.
The first musical moment we are proposing you listen to today is called “Desolatione desolata est terra” (“With desolation is all the land made desolate”). Please, try to close your eyes, and let the music guide you through this powerful meditation.