BIOGRAPHY

(b Rethel1760d St Petersburg11 March 1803). French harpist and composer, son of Jean-Guillain Cardon. He has often been confused with his brother, the violinist and chorister Louis-Stanislas Cardon (b Paris, 1761; d Versailles, 26 Dec 1797), for he was known only as Cardon from a singular last name on his printed works. The Cardon family moved to Paris in 1761, and by 1780 Jean-Baptiste had developed a reputation as a harp virtuoso and teacher. He was also harpist to the Countess of Artois, to whom he dedicated four sonatas, op.1 (1780). In 1786 he dedicated his four harp sonatas, op.7, to Queen Marie-Antoinette and, after visiting London in 1785 dedicated four more sonatas, op.22, to the Prince of Wales. After the outbreak of the Revolution he went to Russia, where he was harpist to the royal family and their theatres (1790–93). He received 3 million rubles in payment for his service; when his contract ended he was also offered 500 rubles for his return journey. In 1791 he married Charlotte-Rosalie Pitrot, an actress at the Imperial Theatres. He performed chamber music in the rooms of the sovereign with the violinist Ferdinand Titz, clarinettist Joseph Beer, cellist Allesandro Delfino and pianist and composer Ernst Wanzura. Some years later he visited France (1802), but returned to St Petersburg before his death.

Cardon composed duos, trios, airs with variations, two concertos and over 30 sonatas for the harp. He also wrote L’art de jouer de la harpe (Paris, 1785), a tutor for the single-action pedal harp tuned to the key of Eb, that includes preludes as chord and arpeggio exercises in the keys of Eb, Bb, C, G, D, A and E. His innovative style advanced the development of virtuoso harp playing.

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