Denis Gaultier: 1597-1672


Selected Recordings

La Dedicasse



Selected Sheet Music

from La Rhètorique des Dieux


Click to enlarge

Source: La Rhètorique des Dieux

Showcase Piece

Pavane ou Tombeau de Mr Raquette

Notes and Commentary

Denis Gaultier (1597 or 1602/3 – 1672), also known as Gaultier le jeune and Gaultier de Paris, was a French lutenist and composer, born in Paris, either in 1597 or 1603. Little is known about his career. He may have studied under lutenist Charles Racquet, and until at least 1631, he was closely linked to his older cousin, Ennemond. Writers of the period referred to both of them as “Gaultier,” making it difficult to distinguish between them.

Both lutenists had connections with Blancrocher and Henri de L’Enclos, and both secured a high reputation. In 1635 Denis married Françoise Daucourt. Their son Philippe Emmanuel would later become advisor to the king, but there is no evidence that Gaultier himself ever held a court position. Denis most probably gained fame and income through salon playing.

Gaultier’s output, as is to be expected from a 17th-century French lutenist, consists mainly of dance suites for the lute. In general, Gaultier was a masterful melodist, effortlessly writing graceful melodic lines with clear phrase structures, but his music is less inventive harmonically than that of some other French lutenists of the era, such as René Mesangeau or Pierre Dubut.

Three published collections of Gaultier’s music are known, all from his late years. La rhétorique des dieux (1652) contains 12 parts, each named after one of the Greek modes. The collection, compiled under the patronage of Anne de Chambré, also contains engravings after Le Sueur, Abraham Bosse and Robert de Nanteuil. Two other collections, Pièces de luth sur trois différens modes nouveaux (c. 1669) and Livre de tablature (c. 1672) both begin with basic instructions on lute playing. All three manuscripts consist principally of dances. The one other genre Gaultier made a contribution to is the tombeau.

An adequate assessment of Gaultier’s music and influence is difficult due to attribution problems. La rhétorique des dieux may consist of works not composed by Gaultier or that were composed in collaboration with his cousin Ennemond or that were changed later by others. The 1672 collection was completed after Gaultier’s death by his pupil Montarcis, and contains music by Gaultier and his cousin. Other pieces, found in various manuscripts, also pose attribution problems. Nevertheless, Gaultier was an important exponent of the French style brisé, and as such an influence on harpsichordists. Around 1680 a few of Gaultier’s works were included in anthologies by Perrine, a French theorist who experimented with the writing of lute music in staff notation.—Excerpted from Wikipedia.

Books and Music

Selected Books
La Rhètorique des Dieux
A-R Editions, Inc., 1990
David J. Buch (ed.)
$46 on Amazon


French Baroque Lute Music, 1650-1700 
VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, 2010
Robin Rolfhamre
$70 on Amazon

lute stdy
From Amazon: “Robin Rolfhamre has a Master’s Degree in classical guitar from the University in Agder, Norway, and has specialized in baroque and contemporary music.”

Selected Music
DG-dieux La Rhetorique Des Dieux (1995), 2-CD set

“A must have. [The] echnique strips the music of anything unnecessary, leaving us with an elegant, minimalist inspiration of [the] creations, as the composer intended them to be rendered.”—David Dayan-Rosenman on Amazon

Fr lute Style Brisé (1996), 1 CD

Complete Works

Gaultier’s output consists mainly of three dance suites for the lute:

  1. La rhétorique des dieux (1652)
  2. Pièces de luth sur trois différens modes nouveaux (1669)
  3. Livre de tablature (1672)

Attribution of some of the works to Gaultier is problematic because many pieces were signed “Gaultier,” and it’s not clear if the references are to Denis or another composer of that period, Ennemond, or whether the two collaborated, or whether some of the original scores were altered in later years.

1. La rhétorique des dieux (1652) contains 12 parts, each named after a Greek character such as Ulysses, Minerva, Andromeda, Diane, Apollo, Circe, and so on. Each part is divided into several pieces, with commentary, and they come in different modes:

La Dedicasse mode dorien, Phaeton foudroyé, Panégirique, Minerve, Ulisse, Ulisse double, Sarabande, Prélude sous dorien, Andromède, Diane, La Coquette Virtuosa, Allemande, Atalante, Sarabande, Tombeau de Mlle Gaultier Mode Frigien, Courante, Mars superbe, Cléopatre amante et double, Sarabande, Artemise Mode sous-Frigien, Le Triomphe, Untitled, Allemande 1, Allemande 2, Allemande sous lidien, Courante 1, Courante 1 double, Courante 2, Courante 2 double, Courante 3, Courante 3 double, Gigue, Appolon Orateur mode myxolidien, Courante, Courante 2 et double, Diane au bois, Allemande sous myxolidien, La Caressante, Gigue, Circé mode éolien, Céphale, Sarabande, Prélude mode sous aeolien, L’Héroique, Courante, Orphée mode ionien, Echo, Courante, L’Homicide, Sarabande, La Gaillarde, Courante avec double, Allemande sous ionien, La Pastoralle, Narcisse, Junon ou la Jalouse, Sarabande, Tombeau de Mr de Lenclos, La consolation aux amis du Sr Lenclos, Résolution des amis du Sr Lenclos sur sa mort. More from

2. Pièces de luth sur trois différens modes nouveaux (c. 1669).

3. Livre de tablature (c. 1672), includes Prelude, Allemande “Phaeton foudroy” and Courante “Minerve.”

Selected pieces:

Pavane ou Tombeau de Mr Raquette
Le Tombeau de L’Enclos
La Tenebreuse
La Coquette Virtuosa sous dorien
Courante “La Lyonnaise”
Courante “La Royale”

Gaultier books and music
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