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Gossec: Symphony in D

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: a composer who kept a good head on his shoulders…

In France, both medicine and musical culture have a long history of close ties to the government, making these fields risky in times of Revolution.

Francois-Joseph Gossec, who began his career with close ties to the aristocracy, prevailed during the French Revolution by severing all these ties and jumping into the service of the new government.

Likewise, his contemporary, Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotine, who had previously held appointments from Louis XVI, went so far as to join the new General Assembly. Although he did not invent the execution device that came to bear his name, Guillotine proposed its development.

A physician and enlightened humanist, Guillotine was interested in using technology to “civilize” the process of capital punishment by making it as quick, effective, and painless as possible.

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