56. Rameau (1683–1764) was the most popular and contentious French composer of the eighteenth century. His musical doctrines produced a bitter factional struggle in which both Rousseau and d’Alembert were his enthusiastic partisans and interpreters. In the Encyclopedia Rousseau wrote the bulk of the articles on music and d’Alembert added to them frequently with further exposition of Rameau’s theories (“Cadence,”  “Fundamental Bass”). In 1752 d’Alembert published an edition of Rameau’s theories called Élémens de musique théorique et pratique suivant les principes de M. Rameau, which was one of the chief means by which Rameau’s musical doctrines were spread throughout Europe. A. Oliver in his The Encyclopedists as Critics of Music (New York, 1947), p. 112, claims that “to this very day music scholars have realized that the clearest approach to Rameau’s theories is to be found in d’Alembert’s Élémens. ” The prickly Rameau was nevertheless highly indignant over certain departures of Rousseau and d’Alembert from adherence to all parts of his dogma, and he bitterly attacked them in print.


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