Traces of a musical movement remain in France from the first steps of Christian chant (Gallican chant), to whose development the activity of the French churches contributed from the 8th and 9th centuries. Polyphony reached a first affirmation in the Parisian chapels by the masters of the school of Notre-Dame (12th and 13th centuries), and then especially with G. de Machaut, author of the first completely polyphonic mass. Starting from the 14th century, by the troubadours and the troubadours, an art closer to the worldly taste took over, designated as Ars nova , opposed to the thirteenth-century address called Ars antiqua. Under the influence of the nearby Flemish school, the development of counterpoint continued, brought to its peak between the 15th and 16th centuries. by J. Després and O. di Lasso. Alongside Catholic polyphony (motet, mass) and Calvinist psalmody, especially in the 16th century, the more agile and transparent profane polyphony flourished, represented by the so-called Chanson thanks to authors such as C. Janequin.
In the 17th century. instrumental music was especially popular: first harpsichord music, which found expression in the form of the suite, of which J.-P. Rameau was the teacher; then that for strings, of which France Couperin was an expert, who elaborated his own compositions in the form of a large concerto, sonata and, later, a solo concert.
According to topb2bwebsites, the French musical theater, which was inaugurated in the late seventeenth century with the works of the Italian GB Lulli, proceeded to a greater national characterization with J.-P. Rameau, who were opposed by the so-called Italian ‘buffoonists’, supported in particular by J.-J. Rousseau. But even more important for France was the reform made in the late eighteenth century by CW von Gluck, followed by some Italians active in France, such as L. Cherubini and G. Spontini (18th and 19th century).
The 19th century French theater, dominated by the presence of G. Rossini, found expressions faithful to the indigenous characteristics of sobriety and linearity with D. Auber. The real great French romantic was H. Berlioz, whose start in the symphonic genre was followed first outside than at home. Rather, J. Meyerbeer, an artist with a strong dramatic temperament, triumphed on the French stage. The French work was most fortunate in the second half of the century with C. Gounod, G. Bizet, C. Saint-Saëns, followed later by J. Massenet. Symphonic music achieved remarkable results with the Belgian C. Franck, and with C. Saint-Saëns.
At the beginning of the 20th century, universal values were reached both in the theater and in the symphony with C. Debussy and M. Ravel. In the postwar period, their subtle and graceful art was contrasted by the Group of Six, including A. Honegger, D. Milhaud, France Poulenc. In French musical life after the Second World War, the figure of O. Messiaen constituted the first important element of connection between traditional music and the luxuriant fervor of the young avant-gardes linked to A. Schönberg and the second “Vienna school”. Some of the most significant exponents of the post-war French avant-gardes were formed at the Messiaen school and in particular P. Boulez, who has assumed, in a completely autonomous way, a place of absolute importance in the history of twentieth century music.
In the field of the avant-gardes, the experiences of P. Schaeffer, who laid the foundations of the so-called ‘concrete music’, and those of I. Xenakis, with a more singular outcome, should be remembered. In this panorama, the many creative experiences and investigations on the nature of sound carried out at the Institut de recherche et de coordination acoustique-musique (IRCAM) di Parigi, di cui è stato primo direttore lo stesso Boulez.