Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/136

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124
LESUEUR.
LESSEL.

(op. 8) dedicated to Clementi; another fantasia (op. 13) dedicated to Cecily Beidale, etc. Lessel's life was a romantic one. He was believed to be the love-child of a lady of rank. Mystery also enveloped the birth of his first love, Cecily Beidale, and he discovered that she was his sister only just in time to prevent his marrying her. One of his masses—'Zum Cäecilientag' was composed in all the fervour of this first passion.

[ C. F. P. ]

LESSON, or LEÇON, a name which was used from the beginning of the 17th century to the close of the 18th, to denote pieces for the harpsichord and other keyed instruments. It was applied to the separate pieces which in their collected form made up a Suite. The origin of the name seems to be that these pieces served an educational purpose, illustrating different styles of playing, and being often arranged in order of difficulty. This is borne out by the faet that Domenico Scarlatti's '42 Lessons for the Harpsichord, edited by Mr. Roseingrave' are in the original edition called 'Essercizi—xxx. Sonatas per Gravicembalo,' though they have little of the educational element in them, and by the following extract from Sir John Hawkins's History of Music (chap. 148; he uses the word 'lessons' for 'suites of lessons'): 'In lessons for the harpsichord and virginal the airs were made to follow in a certain order, that is to say, the slowest or most grave first, and the rest in succession, according as they deviated from that character, by which rule the Jig generally stood last. In general the Galliard followed the Pavan, the first being a grave, the other a sprightly air; but this rule was not without exception. In a manuscript collection of lessons composed by Bird, formerly belonging to a lady Neville, who it is supposed was a scholar of his, is a lesson of a very extraordinary kind, as it seems intended to give the history of a military engagement. The following are the names of the several airs in order as they occur: 'The Marche before the battell, The Souldiers Sommons, The Marche of foote-men, The Marche of horse-men: Now folowethe the Trumpets, the Bagpipe and the Drone, the Flute and the Drome, the Marche to the Fighte, Here the battells be joyned, The Retreate, Now folowethe a Galliarde for the victory." There is also in the same collection a lesson called the Carman's Whistle.' Rameau's Lessons for the Harpsichord, op. 2 and 3, are not arranged in order of difficulty, but are connected by the relation of their keys. In the case of Handel's 3 Leçons, the first consists of a Prelude and air with variations in B♭, the second of a Minuet in G minor, and the third of a Chaconne in G major; so they may be presumed to be intended for consecutive performance. The 'Suites de Pièces pour le Clavecin,' in 2 Books, were called 'Lessons' in the first edition, but in the later editions this name was discarded for that which they now bear.

An analogous word to this is 'Etude,' which from originally meaning a special form of exercise, has in many cases come to be applied to pieces in which the educational purpose is completely lost sight of. [See Études.] Although in general the name was applied to pieces for the harpsichord alone, yet it was sometimes used for concerted chamber music, as in the 'Firste Booke of consort lessons, made by divers exquisite authors, for six Instruments to play together, viz. the Treble Lute, the Pandora, the Citterne, the Base Violl, the Flute and the Treble-Violl, collected by Thomas Morley, and now newly corrected and enlarged' (London 1611), and in Mathias Vento's 'Lessons for the Harpsichord with accompaniment of Flute and Violin.'

LESTOCQ. Opera in 4 acts; words by Scribe, music by Auber. Produced at the Opéra Comique May 24, 1834. It was produced in English at Covent Garden Feb. 21, 1835, as 'Lestocq, or the Fete of the Hermitage.'

[ G. ]

LESUEUR, Jean François, grandnephew of the celebrated painter Eustache Lesueur, born Jan. 15, 1763 [App. p.700 "Feb. 15, 1760"], in the village of Drueat-Plessiel, near Abbeville. He became a chorister at Abbeville at 7. At 14 he went to the college at Amiens, but two years later broke off his studies to become, first, maître de musique at the cathedral of Seez, and then sous-maître at the church of the Innocents in Paris. Here he obtained some instruction in harmony from the Abbé Roze, but it was not any systematic course of study, so much as his thorough knowledge of plain-song, and deep study, that made him the profound and original musician he afterwards became. His imagination was too active, and his desire of distinction too keen, to allow him to remain long in a subordinate position: he therefore accepted in 1781 the appointment of maître de musique at the cathedral of Dijon, whence after two years he removed to Le Mans, and then to Tours. In 1784 he came to Paris to superintend the performance of some of his motets at the Concert Spirituel, and was reappointed to the Holy Innocents as head-master of the choristers, he now mixed with the foremost musicians of the French school, and with Sacchini, who gave him good advice on the art of composition, and urged him to write for the stage. In 1786 he competed for the musical directorship of Notre Dame, which he obtained, and immediately entered upon his duties. He was allowed by the chapter to engage a full orchestra, and thus was able to give magnificent performances of motets and 'messes solennelles.' His idea was to excite the imagination and produce devotional feeling by means of dramatic effects and a picturesque and imitative style, and he even went so far as to precede one or his masses by a regular overture, exactly as if it had been an opera. Crowds were attracted by this novel kind of sacred music, and his masses were nicknamed the 'Beggars' Opera' ('L'Opéra des Gueux'). This success soon aroused opposition, and a violent anonymous attack was made upon him, under pretext of a reply to his pamphlet 'Essai de musique sacrée, ou musique motivée