Francois was from the talented Couperin family. He is known as Couperin le grand to differentiate him from the rest of the Couperins. His uncle Louis was the first Couperin to take the post as organist at the Church of Saint-Gervais in Paris. He was a well respected keyboard virtuoso and composer but met with an early death. Charles Couperin (Francois’s father) then took the position at the Church of Saint-Gervais.
Charles Couperin taught his son from an early age, but sadly died when Francois was only ten.
On the death of Charles the wardens of the Church of Saint-Gervais held the position as organist for Francois until he was eighteen. Couperin’s musical talent impressed the council because aged seventeen they gave him a salary. At the age of twenty five Couperin became one of the four organists of the royal chapel.
In 1713 Couperin received a 20 year royal privilege to publish, and started immediately with his first volume of his Harpsichord works. He wrote four in total. Johann Sebastian Bach admired Couperin’s work and apparently copied it. Other admirers include Brahms and Ravel. Ravel wrote Le Tombeau de Couperin – a memorial to Couperin.
Francois Couperin had some prestigious positions including teacher to the royal children and successor of Jean-Henri d’Anglebert in 1717 to take one of the highest positions for a court musician – ordinaire de la musique de la chambre du roi pour le clavecin.
His health deteriorated in the 1720’s and he has to pass on his position to his cousin Nicolas and then his daughter Marguerite-Antoinette.
Couperin is known for his numerous works for the Harpsichord, however we mustn’t forget the chamber music, motets and other church music.
Francois Couperin died in 1733 aged sixty four.