Elisabeth Jacquet was born to a family of Parisian musicians in the mid-seventeenth century. Acclaimed as a child prodigy, she had the privilege of performing a number of harpsichord works for the Sun King, Louis XIV. While still a teenager, she was accepted as a musician for the French court, a position held until she married organist Marin de la Guerre in 1684. After her marriage, Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre continued to compose, teach music, and give concerts throughout Paris. Unlike many female composers in the early-modern era, Jacquet de la Guerre was recognized as an outstanding composer in her time, ranked just below Lully in Titon du Tillet’s La Parnasse françois. While most of her works are for chamber ensembles (she was an early champion of the trio sonata), she did compose two remarkable stage works: a lost ballet (Les jeux à l’honneur de la victoire, 1691) and an opera (Céphale de Procris, 1694), believed to be the first opera by a woman in France.
For more information:
Anna Beer. Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music. London: Oneworld Publications, 2016.
Catherine Cessac. Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre: Une femme compositeur sous le règne de Louis XIV. Paris: Actes sud, 1995.
Cecelia Hopkins Porter. Five Lives in Music: Women Performers, Composers, and Impresarios from the Baroque to the Present. Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2012.