François-André Danican Philidor

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François-André Danican Philidor (September 7, 1726 – August 31, 1795) was a French composer who contributed to the early development of the opéra comique. He was also regarded as the best chess player of his age. Philidor's book Analyse du jeu des Échecs was considered a standard chess manual for at least a century. He was commonly referred to as André Danican Philidor during his lifetime.


Musical family

François-André Danican Philidor came from an extraordinary musical family, which included:

  • Jean Danican Philidor (ca.1620-1679), André Danican Philidor's grandfather, was a musician at the Grande Écurie (literally, the Great Stable; figuratively, the Military Band) in Paris. The original name of his family was Danican (D'Anican) and was of Scottish origin (Duncan). Philidor was a later addition to the family name. Jean Danican Philidor was given the nickname of Philidor by Louis XIII because his oboe playing reminded the king of an Italian virtuoso oboist coming from Siena named Filidori.
  • Michel Danican (died ca.1659), André Danican Philidor's great-uncle, was a renowned oboist and, together with Jean Hotteterre, coinvented the oboe by modifying the shawm so that the bore was narrower and the reed near could be held near the end by the player's lips.
  • André Danican Philidor (ca.1647-1730), François-André Danican Philidor's father, was also known as Philidor l'ainé (Philidor the Elder). He was an oboist and crumhorn player. He was a member of the Grande Écurie military band and later performed at the Court, at the Royal Chapel, in the employ of Louis XIV.
  • Jacques Danican Philidor (1657–1708) was the younger brother of André Danican Philidor (Philidor the Elder) and, being a musician, too, was logically known as Philidor le cadet (Philidor the Younger).
  • Pierre Danican Philidor (1681–1731), also a musician, was the son of Jacques Danican Philidor.
  • Anne Danican Philidor (1681–1728) was André Danican Philidor's oldest brother. Anne Danican Philidor is best remembered today for having founded the Concert Spirituel, an important series of public concerts held in the palace of the Tuileries from 1725 to 1791.

François-André Danican Philidor was born to his father’s second wife, Elizabeth Le Roy, whom he wed in 1719 when she was 19 years old and he 72. When François-André was born, his father was 79 years old; he died 4 years later and left his son fatherless.

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