François Couperin was born in Paris, Nov. 10, 1668, of a noted family of French musicians, mostly organists comparable to the Bachs in Germany, who flourished during the 17th and 18th centuries.
François Couperin, later called "le grand," became organist of the church of St. Gervais in Paris in 1685, a post which he held until his death, and eight years later was appointed to the royal chapel. There he was equally famous as organist and clavecinist and became the teacher of the Dauphin and other members of the royal family. Although Couperin wrote a number of songs and a quantity of religious music for voices as well as for the organ, his fame rests on his secular instrumental music, especially his harpsichord pieces and his trio sonatas, a form which he made popular in France. Noteworthy in his chamber music are his Concerts royaux, written for Louis XIV in 1714-1715 and published in 1722, and his trio sonatas Les Nations of 1726. Another instrumental work, his famous Concert instrumental sous le titre d'apothéosed'apotheose composécompose àa la mémoirememoire immortelle de l'incomparable Monsieur de Lully (1725), is characteristic of Couperin's art in two respects. In this work he gives expression to the idea of uniting the styles of Arcangelo Corelli, whose compositions he greatly admired and whom he honored in a grand trio sonata, Le Parnasse ou l'apothéosel'apotheose de Corelli (1724), and of J. B. Lully. Couperin thus shows his intention of combining the melodic beauty of the Italian and the clarity of the French styles, competitors in his time, and of giving, on the other hand, a descriptive, programmatic touch to his compositions. Both traits characterize his most famous works, his suites for harpsichord, which he called Ordres and which he published in four books in 1713, 1717, 1722, and 1730. Stylistically these pieces, as well as his chamber music, represent a combination of contrapuntal and harmonic writing, with an abundance of ornament and embellishment.