Francois was from the talented Couperin family. He is known as Couperin le grand which differentiates him from the rest of the family. 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 early death. Charles (Francois’s father) then took the position at the Church of Saint-Gervais.
Charles 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 so much that they gave him a salary at the age of seventeen. By the age of twenty-five, he became one of the four organists of the Royal Chapel.
In 1713 Couperin received a 20-year royal privilege to publish, he started immediately with the 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 held some prestigious positions including teacher to the royal children. He was also the 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 consequently he has to pass his position on 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.
He died in 1733 aged sixty four.
Further Reading & Musical Downloads
At music-scores.com we have fifteen arrangements of Francois Couperin Sheet Music.