Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 August 2019
While music criticism in early modern France shared its history with journals such as the Mercure galant, it neither emerged from a journalistic tradition nor depended on journals for its themes. This means that as journalistic criticism grew in importance over the eighteenth century, it drew on topics established elsewhere – often in salons and private publications – that had less to do with particular performances than with defining the proper role of music in society. The composer, work or performer mattered, but usually within some larger social context. If the resulting criticism at times bears little resemblance to modern counterparts, it nevertheless offers something equally valuable: opportunities to observe a nation publicly weighing the roles it wished music to adopt.