Jean Baptiste Lully [1632-1687]
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme 
Marche pour la cérémonie des Turcs
In 1646 a young Italian page arrived at the French court who was to change the course of musical life there forever. Adopting the French version of his name, Jean-Baptiste Lully, was quickly recognised for his skills in music and dance and his reputation gained him the favour of King Louis XIV. He was granted his own ensemble, a smaller version than the Grande Bande known as the Petits Violons but by 1652 he was composing court entertainment - particularly ballets - which called for the forces of the Petits Violons to be combined with the Grande Bande.
These court entertainments were usually in the form of court ballets, a series of dances connected by a loosely conceived theme depicting comic and exotic sciences but mainly serving the purpose of glorifying the king. In 1661 Lully and Jean Baptiste Poquelin or to use his stage name, Molière, began a collaboration which would see a series of comédies-ballets which linked dances to a structured plot creating a revolution in the genre of French ballet.
Following a visit from the Turkish ambassador Suleiman Aga in 1669, Louis was so taken with the exotic nature of the Turkish culture that he demanded a comédie-ballet containing a Turkish ceremony and thus Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme was created. Presented for the first time at the Château of Chambord on 14 October 1670 before King and Court it tells the story of Monsieur Jourdain, a wealthy merchant aspiring to reach beyond his station through his dancing and musical talents. In order to ensure his change of class, Jourdain also plans to marry his daughter Lucille into nobility but she is (but of course) in love with a penniless young man, Cléonte. Lucille and her impecunious lover conspire and Cléonte disguises himself as a Turkish nobleman and promise her father Turkish nobility in return for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Monsieur Jourdain, blinded by his desire to rise above his station agrees and the result is the King’s Turkish Ceremony. The music makes such colourful use of percussion intertwined with folkish melodic themes that they were to serve as a model for later composers. The solemn March, weighty and slightly tongue in cheek is one of the highlights of the scene in which Turkish dancers and musicians arrive honouring Jourdain as nobility as part of the sham ceremony.