Born: in France
Dead: 1740 in England
Genre: Keyboard Music, Chamber Music
Charles Dieupart was a French composer whose most important work was his Six suittes de clavessin, a large collection of seven-movement suites said to have influenced the English Suites written by J.S. Bach, who was known to have made a copy of, and studied, Dieupart's magnum opus.
The year of Dieupart's birth is not known but records suggest his father was married in 1667. A 1695 tax statement lists Charles Dieupart as an organist and harpsichord teacher. Little else is known about his early years, and it is believed that his decision to settle in England in the early-1700s was the result of the extended visit to France by Elisabeth, Countess of Sandwich, daughter of the Count of Rochester, John Wilmot.
Elisabeth traveled to France for health reasons, probably in the late-1690s. She must have befriended Dieupart around 1700, for she is the dedicatee of the aforementioned Six suittes de clavessin, published 1701. Dieupart is known to have given a concert in London in February, 1703, and thus may have departed France late in 1702.
He provided incidental music to Britain's Happiness (1704), a play by Peter Motteux, staged at the Drury Lane Theatre in London. Dieupart had a hand as well in an Italian-style opera at that same theater, Arsinoe (1705), for which his friends and business associates, Italian cellist Nicola Haym and violinist Thomas Clayton, were involved musically. Dieupart, who reportedly played harpsichord with the orchestra, is thought to have written incidental music for the production.
He remained active in further London stage productions, either providing incidental music, as in the 1708 Motteux opera presentation, Love's Triumph, or playing harpsichord, as in Alessandro Scarlatti's Pirro e Demetrio, also in 1708.
After 1711 Dieupart retired from theatre work, both as composer and performer, and turned largely to playing in Handel's orchestra and teaching harpsichord. Dieupart seems to have composed little-perhaps some songs-after 1711 until the early-1720s, when he wrote a series of concertos, which included the 1722 Concerto for 2 oboes and 2 flutes.
Dieupart apparently remained busy in the 1730s, though his precise activities are unknown. Historian John Hawkins, who has provided most of the existing information about the composer, reported that in his later years Dieupart attended concerts in 'ale-houses' and had become otherwise neglectful. He died probably in London around 1740.
- Robert Cummings (All Music Guide)