JACQUET DE LA GUERRE, Elizabeth – Overture ‘Céphale et Procris’ – for 5 Solo Cellos or for Cello orchestra


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JACQUET DE LA GUERRE, Elizabeth – Overture ‘Céphale et Procris’ – Transcription for 5 Solo Cellos or for Cello orchestra


PDF 1 – General Score

PDF 2 – All individual Cello parts

  Notes on the composer and the work:

Birth: 17th March 1665, Paris

Death: 27th June 1729, Paris

Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (born Élisabeth Jacquet) was a French musician, harpsichordist and composer. She came from a rich family of masons, musicians, composers, and instrument makers. As a teenager she was accepted into the French court where her education was supervised by the king’s mistress, Françoise-Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan. She stayed with the royal court until it moved to Versailles. In 1684 she married the organist Marin de La Guerre, son of the late organist at the Sainte-Chapelle, Michel de La Guerre. After her marriage she taught, composed, and gave concerts at home and throughout Paris, to great acclaim.

Jacquet de La Guerre was one of the few well-known female composers of her time, and unlike many of her contemporaries, she composed in a wide variety of forms. Her talent and achievements were acknowledged – for example by Titon du Tillet when she was only 26:

“marvellous facility for playing preludes and fantasies off the cuff. Sometimes she improvises one or another for a whole half hour with tunes and harmonies of great variety and in quite the best possible taste, quite charming her listeners.”

On 15th March 1694, the production of her opera Céphale et Procris at the Académie Royale de Musique was the first of an opera written by a woman in France. However, her only published opera only had 5 or 6 performances. An explanation of this failure was that the opera depended on the text rather than the music. Cephale et Procris would soon be known as tragedie en musique, a tragedy put into music.  The reception of Cephale et Procris tells us more about the world of opera in France in the 1690s and French music rather than her ability as a composer, but this put a stop to her career as an operatic composer.

Despite the poor reception of her opera, she continued to publish her works and take opportunities. Her sonatas, from later in her life, are considered triumphs of the genre. This is due to her development of the role for violin and the way she blended French traditions with Italian innovations. After her death, her genius in compositions, her creativity in vocal and instrumental music, and her variety of genres have been acknowledged. During the 1990s and to the present day there has been a renewed interest in her compositions and a number have been recorded.

Knowledge of the French music of the period would certainly be useful in attempting this transcription of David Johnstone. It is one of the few products on Johnstone-Music having been composed before 1700. There are a number of stylistic considerations, including how to approach the outer sections in ‘inegal’ rhythm. The Cello 1 part has some thumb position work, but in general this overture is quite playable for medium to advanced players.

Enjoy the music!




Performed in concert by the cellists in the music course of ‘Frontfroide’ (Narbonne, France) guided by the master cellists Lluis Claret and Anna Mora Griso – this video recording was a rehearsal only!


Welcome to Johnstone-Music! A big Anglo-Spanish web for MUSICIANS and especially CELLISTS – original music scores for orchestral instruments and keyboard. Plus articles, audios, videos, resources, catalogues, news etc. Official web of the professional cellist David Johnstone, principal cello Navarre Symphony Orchestra (Spain), chamber musician and soloist in many premieres. Hundreds of cello arrangements in the web for a symbolic charge per download or for free.

The following have taken his work onboard, sometimes with special collaborations as composer-arranger-performer: the Philadelphia Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi, Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela, Orchestre Nouvelle Generation de Montreal, the Gulbenkian Orchestra (Lisbon), Orchestra da Camera del Locarnese (Suiza), The Zagreb Soloists, the Saint Petersburg Musical Theatre “Zazerkalye” Chamber Orchestra, the Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum (Poland), Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra (New Zealand), Camerata Cambrensis (Basque country), Ensemble Metamorphosis of Belgrade (Serbia), with Ara Malikian (Non Profit Music Chamber Orchestra – Madrid), and a long etc.. Currently, many courses, conservatoires and music schools, university String departments etc. use his repertoire; there are dozens of his arrangements on ‘You Tube’ …

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