The Te Deum War
While the Kingdom of France is well known for its victories led by Louis XIV and Louis XV, an episode of musical war deserves to be retold.
François Colin de Blamont, born in 1690 was brought up in the musical institutions of the court and soon became a major musician of Louis XV’s reign. He was appointed King’s Chamber Music Superintendent and his career unfolded among gilded opera houses and royal divertimenti.
In 1783, Esprit Antoine Blanchard, then aged 42 was called from the French provinces to become assistant master of the Versailles Royal Chapel. He only left it aged 74 in 1770. In the service of Louis XV, he was pivotal to four decades of royal sacred music, and left behind 46 grand motets and also a memorable “Te Deum war”. His own Te Deum to hail the victory of Fontenoy was executed in the Royal Chapel, but at a heavy price! To celebrate this military victory, this Te Deum was to be sung as usual in the King’s chapel. Blanchard had his score distributed to musicians. But according to an “ancient tradition” it was the role of the King’s Chamber Music Superintendent to conduct the Te Deum in the Chapel. So Colin de Blamont rushed to replace Blanchard’s scores with his, but too late: the Queen was taking her place and conducted by Blanchard, the music started.
Incensed, the Superintendent of the Chamber asked the Duc de Richelieu to intervene; he responded from the battlefield, on behalf of the King “who has much disapproved of your conduct”, and commanded a few days later that the victory of Tournai be celebrated by Colin de Blamont’s Te Deum.
The Queen managed to counter the attack: Colin de Blamont conducted his Te Deum but at the King’s Mass (on the battlefield at the time!), while at the Queen’s mass Blanchard’s Te Deum was played again… However, over the years, Colin de Blamont executed his Te Deum for prestigious Court celebrations, a musical victory!
This concert offers two antagonistic works illustrating the Te Deum War, a war of scores, a frivolous echo of Louis XV’s last victories… An occasion to rediscover two of Rameau’s most talented contemporaries!
Daniel Cuiller revives this music with the same delectation with which he revived Henry Madin’s Te Deum, to great success. With the brilliant singers of the Choir Marguerite Louise led by Gaétan Jarry, the virtuoso musicians of Stradivaria, Daniel Cuiller has responded enthusiastically to this “command” for the Versailles Royal Chapel, giving us the opportunity to hear the Te Deum War!