It's Marais, not Lully

Dedication to Lully

There is a little piece in Book 2 of the Suzuki violin repertoire that is entitled Gavotte. Structurally, it is a gavotte because it has a half-bar anacrusis. But it is most definitely not the work of Lully.

The piece is a Rondeau from Book I of a series of pieces for viola da gamba and continuo by Marin Marais. Marais was a student of Monsieur Lully; and it is to his teacher that he dedicates the work. But there is no confusion about the origins of this piece. He begins his dedication: “To Monsieur de Lully, squire, …, Secretary of the Royal House, Crown of France and his Finances and Superintendant of his Majesty’s Music. Sir, I would commit an inexcusable fault if, having the honor of being one of your students and you having so many obligations to me in particular, I did not offer you the works that I learned here in playing your learned and admirable compositions. I present therefore this collection, and as my supervisor and as my benefactor…”

If there were any remaining questions about the origin of the pieces in Marais’ Book I, the notes page in the manuscript gives performance instructions about “my pieces.” The manuscript can be found at IMSLP. The piece is question is labeled as a “Rondeau” and is found on page 30 of the linked document. A recording of this work for viola da gamba can be found on YouTube

Lully, of course, was a fine composer. But it’s time to give Marais his due.

So, who was Marais? He was a musician and composer in France, ultimately employed by the royal court. Best known for his compositions for the viol (viola da gamba), he wrote several books of compositions for the instrument.