Beyond Versailles: F.D. Philidor, French composer and chess master


Third floor, Baillieu Library

Over the period when Louis XIII, IV and XV ruled France, four generations of the Philidor family contributed in diverse ways to the vibrancy of musical life in the French court. Best remembered of them all is F.D. (François-André Danican) Philidor (1726–1795), whose considerable gifts as a composer, especially of comic operas, were partnered with a genius for chess, which he played across northern and central Europe; for several decades he was virtually unbeatable.

A small exhibition of material relating to F.D. Philidor will be on display on the third floor of the Baillieu Library (outside the Reading Room) from Monday 1 May 2017. Sourced mostly from the Rare Music Collection, which is particularly rich in 18th century French resources, the exhibition also features a chess set on loan from the Ian Potter Museum of Art.

Image by Janet Boschen derived from F.D. Philidor, Carmen saeculare (Paris: 1788); and F.D. Philidor and J.-C. Trial, XXII Ariettes … (manuscript, 1769), Rare Music, Special Collections