Belgian-born French composer. On the foundation of the Paris Conservatory in 1795 he became one of its directors and professor of composition. As one of the leading composers of the French Revolution, he wrote many works for public ceremonies, often using vast forces. His works include over 30 symphonies, church and chamber music, ballets and theatre music, and 19 operas. He wrote little after 1800.
Gossec was a chorister at Antwerp Cathedral. In 1751 he went to Paris, where with Jean-Philippe Rameau's help he obtained a post writing symphonies for La Pouplinière's private orchestra in 1754. He later became music director to the Prince of Condé. He founded the Concert des Amateurs in 1770, and in 1773 took over the direction of the Concert Spirituel. He also produced much chamber music and in 1760 performed a Requiem in which, as in other works, he anticipated the experimental manner of Hector Berlioz. From 1795 to 1816 he was professor of composition at the Conservatory.
WorksOperaLes Pêcheurs, Toinon et Toinette (1767), Thésée (1782), Rosine (1786), and others.
BalletLes Scythes enchaînés, added to Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride (1779), Mirsa, and Callisto.
Sacred oratorio La Nativité (1774); Requiem (1760), Dernière Messe des vivants, motets and other pieces; funeral music for Mirabeau.
SecularLe Chant du 14 juillet, L'Offrande à la liberté, and other music for the Revolution.
Other about 50 symphonies (1756–1809), overtures, and other orchestral works; 12 string quartets, trios, and other chamber music.