Les Bergeres (The Shepherds) L.C. Daquin (1668–1733)

“The King of Love My Shepherd Is”

Andante M. Lithgow (1735-1792)

Louis-Claude Daquin was a French composer of Jewish ancestry, and a virtuoso organist and harpsichordist. He was born in Paris to a family originating from Italy, where his great-great-grandfather took the name D’Aquino after converting to Catholicism in the town of Aquino. Louis-Claude’s parents were Claude Daquin, a painter, and Anne Tiersant, a grand-niece of Rabelais — the French Renaissance writer, doctor, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. One of Louis-Claude’s grand-uncles was a professor of Hebrew at the Collège de France, and another was the principal physician to King Louis XIV.

Daquin was a musical child prodigy. He performed for the court of Louis XIV at the age of six. At the age of eight, he conducted his own choral work Beatus Vir. He was for a while a pupil of Louis Marchand (also a child prodigy, and one of the foremost virtuosi of his day). At the age of 12, Daquin became organist at the Sainte-Chapelle, and in the following year took a similar post at the Church of Petit Saint Antoine. In 1722 he married Denise-Thérèse Quirot.

Daquin never lacked for work as an organist. In 1727 he was appointed organist at the Church of Saint Paul in Paris, ahead of Jean-Philippe Rameau who was also a candidate (something like a basketball player being hired instead of Magic Johnson). Five years later, Daquin succeeded his teacher Marchand as organist at the Church of the Cordeliers. In 1739 he became organist to King Louis XV at the Chapelle Royale and in 1755 he was made titular organist (the ‘head chef’ – with sous chefs/organists working under him) at Notre-Dame Cathedral.

By reputation a dazzling performer at the keyboard, Daquin was courted by the aristocracy, and his great expertise at the organ drew large crowds to hear him.