(b Valeggio, nr Verona, 25 July 1825; d Stockholm, 8 Sept 1858). Italian composer and conductor. He studied in Verona with his father Domenico Foroni. His first opera, Margherita (1848), was reviewed favourably by Alberto Mazzucato in the Gazzetta musicale di Milano. In 1849 he was appointed conductor of the orchestra of the royal theatre and chapel in Stockholm, where he presented works which were still unperformed in Italy, such as symphonies by Shumann and orchestral works by Berlioz. In 1850 he wrote the opera Cristina di Svezia for Stockholm and three sinfonias (single-movement overtures) for Milan. The sinfonias were published immediately by Ricordi, a unique occurrence in mid-19th-century Italy. Their appearance in score meant that they were widely circulated: the first one in particular remained in the repertory of Italian conductors from Angelo Mariani in the 19th century to Toscanini in the 20th. In his last opera, I gladiatori (1851), Foroni applied his new style of orchestral writing. In a letter to Mazzucato (1856) he stated that he had finished a treatise on orchestration (now lost) in which he analysed different techniques from Bach to Verdi.
Like Michael Costa and Mariani, Foroni was one of the first musicians to combine the activities of concertatore (assistant conductor and coach) and conductor, which at that time in Italy were still undertaken by two people. As an orchestral composer he displayed a vast knowledge of contemporary music. Thanks to his activity as a conductor abroad he could assimilate Berlioz and Liszt’s technique of thematic transformation, even though he did not abandon completely the Italian formal tradition of the Rossinian ouverture. Nevertheless, Foroni developed further the Italian symphonic tradition, especially as regards the orchestration. In 1878 Filippo Filippi defined him as ‘a symphonist to take your hat off to’ and in 1879 Franco Faccio noted ‘the irresistible enthusiasm of all audiences’ for his sinfonias.
Margherita (melodramma semiserio, 2, G. Giachetti), Milan, Re, 1848, I-Mr
Cristina di Svezia (dramma, 5, after G. Casanova), Stockholm, 1850
L'avvocato Patelin (commedia, 2), Stockholm, 1850, unfinished
I gladiatori (Spartaco) (tragedia lirica, prol, 3, G. Peruzzini), Milan, Cannobbiana, 1851, Mr
Vocal: L'italiana (grido di guerra), unison vv, pf, 1847; Ai lombardi (canto di guerra, A. Zoncada), 3vv, 1848; Cantata sinfonica, for the birthday of the King of Sweden, 1850; Tre romanze, 1v, pf, 1850: La lontananza, Il desiderio, L'âme du purgatoire
Orch: 3 sinfonias, c, e, A, 1850
Pf: Deux broderies sur Luisa Strozzi de Sanelli, 1847; Rialto-Polka, 1847; Sogno malinconico, 1847; Ricordanza dagli Orazi e Curiazi di Mercadante, capriccio brillante, op.6, 1848; Studio melodico, 1850 [for left hand, according to Schmidl]
C.Calloni: ‘Carteggio interessante’ [on J. Foroni], Italia musicale (6 April 1850)
A.Mazzucato: ‘Attualità: Jacopo Foroni’, Italia musicale (27 July 1850)
Reviews of ‘I gladiatori’, Italia musicale (15 and 18 Oct 1851)
Correspondence: 2 letters to A. Mazzucato, 1856 (I-Mr)
A.Ghislanzoni: Obituary, Italia musicale (2 Oct 1858)
A.Sala: I musicisti veronesi (1500–1879) (Verona, 1879/R), 23–36
G.Masutto: I maestri di musica del secolo XIX: notizie biografiche, iii (Venice, 1882), 87–92
(b Paris, 1672; d Mantes, 28 June 1745). Son of Michel Forqueray (1650–1714/5), a violinist and dancing-master who settled in Paris in 1670. The Mercure galant of April 1682 records that at an early age Forqueray
had the honour … of playing the basse de violon before the king, making His Majesty so pleased that he commanded that someone should teach [Forqueray] to play the bass viol … he profited so much from the lessons that … there are few who equal him.
According to his obituarist, he remained at court for five or six years and was educated with the court pages. At least six viol players were employed at court, including Marin Marais, but several sources state that he was taught only by his father, and d’Aquin noted that he was never a pupil of Marais. Forqueray often entertained the king during mealtimes and was called upon to play for foreign ambassadors. At the end of the 1689 he became ordinaire de la chambre du roi. La Borde recorded that by the age of 20 he was ‘the most accomplished viol player of his time’. He also built up a reputation as a teacher; the Duke of Orléans (the future regent) and his son Louis, the exiled Duke of Bavaria and the Duke of Burgundy were among his pupils.
In 1697 he married Henriette-Angélique Houssu, daughter of an organist and herself a harpsichordist. They lived for a time at the residence of the Prince of Carignan, where (3) Jean-Baptiste Forqueray was born. Antoine gave concerts with his wife, but the marriage was unsuccessful: his wife left him five times, describing her husband as hot-headed. They separated in 1710, after which Antoine lived in high style, neglecting his impoverished family until ordered to provide for them. In 1731 he retired to Mantes. There was some reconciliation with his family, although he altered his will several times to exclude his son: he evetually left him 20,000 livres and some valuable viols, although the bulk of his estate went to his surviving daughter.
Contemporary writings reveal Forqueray as a player of exceptional virtuosity, keenly interested in the latest developments from Italy. The Mercure de France (August 1738) describes how ‘he wished to do on the viol everything that they [the Italian violinists] could do on the violin’. The report continues that he succeeded in his ambition, translating their technical acrobatics into passage-work for the viol ‘with startling accuracy’; this made his music ‘more piquant and more recherché’ than that of Marais. Above all Forqueray possessed a brilliant gift for improvisation; his obituarist testifies to his ‘lively and fertile imagination’ and Le Blanc recalls he would ‘affect to be whimsical, fantastic and bizarre’. The regent showed his appreciation of Forqueray’s extraordinary talents by presenting him with lavish gifts that included covering him for a debt of 100,000 livres from speculation in the Mississippi company. Although Forqueray’s obituarist refers to ‘about 300 pieces’ surviving by him, apart from the book of pièces de viole published as his, by his son, in 1747 (see below), only five pièces de viole (four in F-Pn Vm7 6296), two transcriptions by Visée for theorbo (B 279152), a handful of dance melodies and a manuscript for three viols ascribed to ‘Forcroy’ (in Lm) are known. These pieces are limited in harmonic vocabulary but demonstrate a love of virtuosity and a delight in the use of high registers.
(2) Michel Forqueray
(b Chaumes-en-Brie, bap. 15 Feb 1681; d Montfort-l’Amaury, 30 May 1757). Cousin of (1) Antoine Forqueray. A pupil of Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Dupuis, organist at Chaumes Abbey, Michel arrived in Paris between 1698 and 1702. He became organist of St Martin-des-Champs in 1703 and on 20 July 1704 organist of St Séverin; he retained both posts until he died. D’Aquin wrote in 1752 that ‘M. Forqueray, organist of St Séverin, still preserves the beautiful touch and the graces that attracted so much praise in his youth’. An inventory taken at his death included a Ruckers harpsichord valued at 800 livres.
(3) Jean-Baptiste(-Antoine) Forqueray [‘le fils’]
(b Paris, 3 April 1699; d Paris, 19 July 1782). Son of (1) Antoine Forqueray. Like his father, who taught him, Forqueray was a child prodigy. When he played to Louis XIV at the age of five or six the court was astonished ‘by the prodigious technique he possessed at so young an age’ (La Borde). He suffered the neglect and jealousy of his father, who about 1715 had him incarcerated in Bicêstre prison and in 1725 had him banished from the country. Fortunately he already had pupils of influence (including Le Monflambert) who rallied to his support and had the sentence revoked; Forqueray returned to France in February 1726 after a two-month exile. Later the same year Quantz remarked on Forqueray’s skill in the petit choeur at the Académie Royal; in 1727 he toured Rennes and Nantes with Guignon.
On 29 July 1732 Forqueray married Jeanne Nolson and went to live with her at the house of her brother-in-law and guardian, Chevalier Etienne Boucon. Boucon was a great amateur of all the arts; his daughter Anne, who like Jeanne Nolson was an accomplished harpischordist, married Mondonville; Rameau was also a member of the Boucon family circle, as was Guignon. During the 1730s Forqueray played regularly at the house of the fermier-général Ferrand, and in autumn 1737 played Telemann’s ‘Paris Quartets’ with the composer. Telemann recalled in his autobiography with awe: ‘if only words could describe the wonderful way the Quartets were played by Herren Blavet, Guignon, Forcroy the Son and Edouard [cellist]’. Following the death of Jeanne Nolson on 22 December 1740 (there were no children from the marriage), Forqueray married the celebrated harpsichordist Marie-Rose Dubois on 13 March 1741. D’Aquin wrote: ‘everyone knows of the talents of Madame Forqueray: her reputation is magnificent’. On 14 September 1742 Forqueray officially succeeded to his father’s court position, which he held until 7 July 1779. Contemporary descriptions of his playing rank him almost with his father, indeed d’Aquin believed them to be quite equal.
In 1760 he seems largely to have retired from playing and taken up a new career editing Italian works for publication; Mme Leclair remained his engraver. He received a court pension from 1 January 1761 and after that appeared as a ‘vétéran de la musique du roi’. He also worked for the Prince de Conti, retiring only at the prince’s death in 1776. At a feast given by the prince in 1766 Espérandieu, secretary to Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, heard Forqueray play. At Espérandieu’s request Forqueray sent five letters to the viol-playing crown prince, containing advice on the best viols to acquire, viol set-up, good fingering and sound bowing technique (c1768, D-Bsb; facs. in Viole de gambe: methodes et traités, ed. J.-M. Fuzeau, Courlay, 1997). Forqueray declined a request to visit the prince in Potsdam due to poor health; later he suffered from paralysis.
In 1747 Forqueray published a volume dedicated to his pupil Princess Henriette-Anne (daughter of Louis XV) entitled Pieces de viole avec la basse continuë composées par Mr Forqueray le père (Paris, 1747/R; ed. C. Denti, Fribourg, 1984–). The attribution of these pieces to Antoine Forqueray is enigmatic for they are progressive works, grandly conceived in a style similar to that of Leclair. Harmonically, the pieces are full of diminished and augmented chords, Neapolitan sixths, chords of the ninth and colourful progressions. In the avertissement to the publication Forqueray admits to adding the bass (and thus the figures) and fingering the viol part himself. Three pieces which he claims are solely his work are marked with an asterisk, but they are stylistically indistinguishable from the other 29, ostensibly by Antoine. It thus remains unclear to what extent these are the father’s work or the son’s. To maximise the distribution of the pieces, Jean-Baptiste published them simultaneously in a version for solo harpsichord, possibly made by Marie-Rose (1747/R; ed. C. Tilney, Paris, 1970). These idiomatic transcriptions fundamentally reinterpret the material, making greater use of counterpoint, bass octaves and flowing arpeggiated bass figurations.
Forqueray’s Pieces de viole represent the culmination of the French virtuoso viol tradition. Examined in conjunction with the letters that he wrote to Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, they provide us with a unique source not only on mid-18th-century French viol technique but also on the performance of (unmarked) contemporary violin music, notably by Leclair and Guignon. Forqueray meticulously marked his music with most progressive fingerings (notably using high positions across the strings and sequences employing matching fingerings), intricate italianate bowings and ornamentation (with two types of vibrato). Most striking of all is his experimentation with seven different timbres (using high positions on the bass strings) and 260 different chord patterns, including 42 different arrangements of diminished chords. The boldly creative and individual approach displays a profound understanding of the viol’s potential and is stimulated far more by contemporary French violinists than by viol playes such as Dollé or Roland Marais.
(4) Nicolas-Gilles Forqueray [‘le neveu’]
(b Chaumes-en-Brie, bap. 15 Feb 1703; d Chaumes-en-Brie, 22 Oct 1761). Nephew of (2) Michel Forqueray and second cousin of (3) Jean-Baptiste Forqueray. He studied with Dupuis, settled in Paris in 1719 and soon, as an organist, achieved the position of maître de la chapelle et musique to Louis XV. In due course he obtained many organ posts: he succeeded Charles Houssu at the church of the Cimetière des Innocents (1731), Fouquet at St Laurent (1732) and St Eustache (1733) and Dandrieu at St Merri (c1738). In 1734 he married Elisabeth-Nicole Séjan and taught her nephew, Nicolas Séjan (also his godson), who later became organist at Notre Dame. Poor health forced him to relinquish his positions, although he took over St Séverin at his uncle’s death before retiring to Chaumes. Ancelet listed him, alongside Marchand, Daquin and L.-N. Clérambaulb, as one of ‘the most highly regarded organists’ of his day. None of his compositions for keyboard is known to have survived, and even the airs à boire ascribed to ‘Forcroy le neveu’ might be the work of (2) Michel Forqueray; these were published in the Ballard Recueils of August and October 1719, April, June and December 1721, and July 1722.
A.du Pradel [N. de Blégny]: Le livre commode des adresses de Paris pour 1692 (Paris, 1692); ed. E. Fournier (Paris, 1878/R)
H.Le Blanc: Défense de la basse de viole contre les entreprises du violon et les prétentions du violoncel (Amsterdam, 1740/R)
Comte de Picon: F-Pn Recueil Thoisy 96, ff.183–208
P.L.d’Aquin de Château Lyon: Lettres sur les hommes celebres dans … les beaux arts (Paris, 1752)
Ancelet: Observations sur la musique, les musiciens et les instrumens (Amsterdam, 1757/R)
J.G.Prod’homme: ‘Les Forquerays’, RMI, x (1903), 670–706
L.de La Laurencie: ‘Deux violistes célèbres’, BSIM, iv (1908), 1251–74; v (1909), 47–66
L.Forqueray: Les Forqueray et leurs descendants (Paris, 1911)
Y.Gérard: ‘Notes sur la fabrication de la viole gambe et la manière d’en jouer, d’après une correspondance inédit de Jean-Baptiste Forqueray au Prince Frédéric-Guillaume de Prusse’, RMFC, ii (1961–2), 165–71
M.Thomas: ‘Chaumes-en-Brie’, RMFC, vii (1967), 75–102
M.Benoit and N.Dufourcq: ‘A propos des Forqueray’, RMFC, viii (1968), 229–41
H.Bol: La basse de viole du temps de Marin Marais et d’Antoine Forqueray (Bilthoven, 1973)
J.Rutledge: ‘A Letter of J.-B.-A. Forqueray’, JVdGSA, xiii (1976), 12–16
M.-F.Bloch: ‘L'influence du goût italien sur l'art des Forqueray’, Luth et musique ancienne, i (1977), 25–34
M.-T.Lalague-Guilhemsans: Une famille de musiciens français: les Forqueray aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (thesis, Ecole Normale de Chartes, 1979)
L.Robinson: The Forquerays and the French Viol Tradition (diss., U. of Cambridge, 1981)
P.Jaquier: ‘Redécouverte d'un portrait de Jean-Baptiste Forqueray’, De l’image à l’objet: la méthode critique en iconographie musicale: Paris 1985 [Imago musicae, iv (1987)], 315–24