Jean-Baptiste Lully, Composer
Pronunciation: Jean Baptiste Lully
Born in Florence, November 28, 1632
Died in Paris, March 22, 1687
13 "Tragedies lyriques," including Alceste, Bellerophon, and Prosperine; 30 ballets; incidental music; instrumental marches and dances; airs
Jean-Baptiste Lully was born in Italy, the son of a miller. When he was a young boy, his mother died, and he was taken to France to work as a servant in the home of a rich aristocrat. While he was there, he studied guitar, violin, dance and keyboard. He became known as a dancer, and was eventually named the composer of King Louis XIV's instrumental music. His responsibilities grew to include conducting operas and other music events for the royal court.
Lully died in a very unusual way--from a conducting accident! During his time, conductors did not use a light, thin baton like those we see today. Instead, they use a wooden staff to pound the beat on the floor. Lully accidentally hit his foot instead of the floor. The injury was mistreated, gangrene set in, and he died from the infection.