The career of François Giroust reads like a novel. Born in Paris in 1737, he began his musical life as a choirboy at Notre-Dame. His talent was such that at age 19 he was hired as maître at the Cathedral in Orleans. A spectacular success with his grand motets at the Concert Spirituel in 1768 led him back to Paris and the Church of the SS Innocents. His fame in Paris gained him a position at the Royal Chapel in 1775, at the court of Louis XVI. Later he was promoted to Surintendant of the King's music. He reached the summit of church and court music just as the French Revolution broke out; his world collapsed along with the monarchy and church.
Given the position as concierge of the Château de Versailles, he wrote the music for virtually all the revolutionary events in Versailles from 1793 until his death in 1799.
Almost all his music has survived. While his revolutionary works are mainly of historical interest, his motets and masses represent the finest sacred music in France at the end of the ancien régime. This is the first in-depth biography of Giroust, and the detailed catalogue is an invitation to explore his music.
The author, Jack Eby holds a PhD in Musicology from King's College, London, and is presently Professor of Music at Bishop's University in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Chercheur associé of the CMBV, he has worked many years exploring the life and music of François Giroust, especially in Versailles. He has published a number of articles on both his sacred music and his revolutionary career. An edition of his motets has been published by the CMBV, and further editions are planned.