Antoine Clapisson (1780 - after 1836)

Antoine Clapisson was born in 1780 in Lyon where his father was a maker of woodwind instruments. He was a pupil of the famous horn virtuoso, Giovanni Punto (1746-1803) [1]. It is not known when Clapisson studied with Punto. The great artist was resident in Paris from 1782 to 1798 although he was touring in Germany and London in 1787 - 88.  It would seem most likely that Clapisson's studies began with him sometime after his return to Paris in 1789. [2]   
1793 Siege of Lyon.

1798 Conscription.

After the Egyptian Campaign (1798–1801) Antoine Clapisson married Swiss-born Philippine Dubois. Their daughter, Clara Charlotte Clapisson (1805-1880), later married Michel dit "Chéri" Gufflet (1793-1878) in Bordeaux on January 6, 1824. M. Clappisson then moved to Naples in the reign of Joachim Murat (1808-1815). and was appointed bandmaster of Velites, custody of Murat, as well as a professor at the Conservatory of Naples, and the first principal horn of the Teatro San Carlo,  It was there that his son, Antoine-Louis Clapisson who became a celebrated opera composer, was born on September 15, 1808. To celebrate his birth a meal was given the next day. Antoine-Lois Clapisson loved narrating this anecdote reflecting the character of good living in Naples:

"People in the street of Toledo, in the great city of Naples, were put in turmoil by the preparations for a meal that took place in a house in the middle of this wide track. We saw appear on a table surrounded by many guests, various dishes from French and Italian cuisine, the chicken fricassee were beside rays cheese, sautéed fillets faced the truffle gratin. We also saw small hot side of ravioli pies, and then a quantity of plates containing slices of mortadella, of Lyon sausage, grated cheese, etc.. The middle of the table was occupied by a huge tureen filled with macaroni, whose fragrant aroma reminded that escaped from the comforting stew with luscious juice was involved in the Italian dough, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and sprinkled with sliced ​​Piedmont truffles. The diversity of these foods was sufficient indication that the guests were from various nations and somewhat greedy, but forgive them, for this meeting consisted of wits, skill, and we know that scientists are generally little marred the sin of gluttony. "

Two years later, Antoine Clapisson was appointed supernumerary the Chamber Orchestra and the Palatine Chapel, as evidenced by a letter from Chamberlain Superintendent of Music of the Kingdom of Naples and the Two Sicilies dated December 10, 1810 .

The Russian campaign dragged on far from Naples Velites (Imperial Guard) where M.  Clapisson was  bandmaster, but after the resulting disastrous campaigns, Antoine Clapisson's regiment was dismissed, the Naples Conservatory disorganized and the theater closed. After the execution of Murat in 1815  M. Clapisson brought his family to Lyon where Étienne Gihot was appointed 1st horn. Since he was Napoléoniste, Clapisson was not included in the new reorganization of the French army, but by good fortune he met an impresario who hired him as principal horn at the Théâtre de Bordeaux. It was in this city that Mr. Clapisson settled permanently. In Musical Agenda for the year 1836, he is reported living in the section of the city of Bordeaux as: Clapisson, horn, rue du Puits de Bathe Cap 19 .

Antoine Clapisson a was an extraordinary musician, and as a composer left more than three hundred works for his favorite instrument, published by the house S. Richault .

(click to open complete .pdf)

Journal des Artistes, Paris, July 1, 1827

Journal des Artistes, Paris, June 17, 1832

Handbuch des Musikalischen Literatur, Leipzig,1828 (

The Clapisson Families.

From the year 1579, Philippe Clapisson, lord of Layer (Saint-Maurice-sur-Dargoire) and Montenard, was confirmed by the canon count, Gaspard Mitte de Chevrieres, lord mansionnaire in functions lord and captain Dargoire and of Chateauneuf, he even filled in the year 1609.

On August 6, 1594  Philippe Clapisson's son, François Clapisson, Doctor of Law, was appointed prosecutor in the Seneschal and Presidial of Lyon. He was commissioned as a deputy to the court of Henry IV on June 19, 1608, and was an alderman in 1608 and 1609. He also held the title President of the Treasurers of France.  It was said of him that he was a man of great merit and very charitable to the poor. In 1609 Clapisson sent a letter of grievance to Henry IV and his ministers on behalf of the magistrates of Lyon regarding repayment of the city's massive debt to its creditors and the king.  Henry had taken a direct interest in Lyon's finances as far back as 1595 with the Edict of Chauny which imposed a prevotal system of government on the refractory town. At that time he had replaced the mayor by appointing his own Provost of Merchants and reduced the number of magistrates from twelve to four. He also imposed new customs and wine taxes with six-year renewals to repay the municipal debts incurred during the Wars of Religion and previous local government mismanagement. But the methods of Henry and his ministers failed to reimburse the town's creditors and by 1609 the municipal officials including Clapisson were blaming Henry himself fearing that the taxes had become a permanent to the benefit of the king. A new agreement was reached that by 1619 the taxes imposed for debt liquidation would be abolished altogether. Although not happy with the result, Clapisson was able to convince his fellow magistrates that this was the best and only compromise Henry and his partisans would grant.[3]  

In 1602 François Clapisson purchased the Le château de la Duchère that once rose at mid-slope on the hill that dominates Lyon's northwest suburb of Vaise.  It is said that he rebuilt the magnificent main gallery.  On November 5, 1606 he married Margaret Dulin, daughter of noble Antoine Dulin, lord of Tour-Montaney.  They had no children.

François Clapisson died in about 1615, and is buried at St. Pierre-le-vieux in 1617, the same location as his father.  His epitaph is in the Jesuit church of St. Joseph.  After the death of Clapisson,  Duchère was sold to Philibert, Marquis Néretang, adviser to the king.

The nuns of the Third Order. S. Francis, under the title of Ste. Elizabeth Riene of Hungary, came to Lyon in 1615. Marguerite d’Ullins, wife of François Clapisson, founded the first Monastery for them on Rue de la Charité in 1617. The number of nuns became very considerable, giving rise to the establishment of a second monastery on the banks of the Saône, between the ports of Vaise and below château de la Duchère. It was known as Ste. Elisabeth des deux Amants. ("two lovers") because of an old tomb nearby, so named, which was demolished in 1707. The original monastery of St. Elizabeth on the Rue de la Charité was abolished in 1745. The site of Ste. Elisabeth des deux Amants is now the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et Danse de Lyon.

Another branch of the family continued to represent Dargoire. In 1646, Robert Clapisson, Auditor of Accounts, and his brother Pierre Clapisson, artillery controller, enjoyed the la moitié des droits de angue et leyde which is perceived to Dargoire, Saint-Jean-de Toulas, St. Maurice, Chateauneuf and Madeleine, a hamlet in the commune of Saint-Maurice-sur-Dargoire. This right was challenged by the Counts of Lyon, but they were formally recognized by a decision of the Board of Appeal of Pariement of April 8, 1647, for Dargoire, Saint-Jean-de Toulas and Saint Maurice, and by a transaction of October 28, 1656 with the Chapitre for Châteauneuf and Madelein.
M. Pierre Clapisson du Lin, Secrétaire du Roy, Contrôleur Général de l’Artillerie de France and his wife dame Marie de Vouldy purchased the Citadel de Boucé in 1667. The previous owner,  M. Antoine du Buysson, had not been a good businessman, however, and M. Clapisson was soon overwhelmed by his creditors. He died in 1673 and his widow finally sold Boucé to Lieutenant General Charles Guillaud de la Motte, husband of demoiselle de Marmande.

C.L. Clapisson was appointed as a Procureur aux Cours de la Sénéchaussée et Présidial de Lyon (magistrate in the Court of the Administrative District and Presidial of Lyon) in 1771. In 1782 he was the fiscal magistrate for competition and survival of the port of Lyon in the eastern suburb, parish, and estate of Guillotiere.[2] His residence was on the Rue. des Trois Maries.


1. Punto was born  Jan Václav Stich in Žehužice, Bohemia in 1748. He was a serf of Count Johann von Thun who, noticing his early talent for music, sent him to study the horn, first in Prague, then Mannheim, and finally with Hampel and Haudek in Dresden.  He returned to the service of his master around 1765, but grew restless after a few years. He decided to run away to become an itinerant horn soloist using the pseudonym Giovanni Punto to evade capture by Count von Thun. Under that name he became one of the most famous virtuosi of all time.  In 1782 Punto settled in Paris in the service of comte d'Artois who later became Charles X.  In 1787 he took a leave of absence to travel the Rhineland towns, and the following year he went to London. In 1789 he returned to Paris to conduct the orchestra of the Théâtre des Varietés Amusantes.  Sometime between 1792 and 1795 while still in Paris, he published his méhode for horn. In 1798 he went on an extended tour of Germany before returning to his native Bohemia in 1801 where he died two years later.

2. There was ample reason not to remain in Lyon. The city is located at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. In 1787 the worst flash flood in fourteen years turned the suburb of Guillotière into a vast lake and destroyed several of the city's famous textile mills. The unusually harsh winter of 1789 froze the rivers, destroying bridges, boats, a chocolate factory, and a button factory.    

1. Dwight's Journal (1861) and l'Univers Musical (1854) give his birth date one year later as September 16, 1809.

2."La Guillotiere, fauxbourg, paroisse & seigneurie à la porte de Lyon. Proc. Fifc. en concurrence & survivance, M. Clapisson, procureur à Lyon." (Almanach, (1782), p.82)

3. See Finley-Croswhite (1999, p, 167ff) "The Debt Issue in Lyons: The Edict of Chauny",

Almanach Astronomique et Historique de la Ville de Lyon, et des Provinces de Lyonnois forez  et Beaujolois pour l’Anné 1782, Aimé de la Roche, Lyon, 1782

Blom, Eric, ed., Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Fifth Edition, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1954 

Chambet, C.J., Histoire de L’Inondation de Lyon…, 3d ed, Chambet Ainé, Lyon, 1841

Didot Frères, ed., Panorama Pittoresque de la France, Tome 2, Bureaux de la Cie. Bibliopéene, Paris, 1839

Finley-Croswhite, S. Annette; Henry IV and the Towns: The Pursuit of Legitimacy in French Urban Society, 1589-1610, Cambridge University Press, 1999

Fitzpatrick, Horace, The Horn and Horn-Playing and the Austro-Bohemian tradition from 1680 to 1830, London, Oxford University Press, 1970

M. Bt D. M...eux (Bruyzet de Manivieux) [son petit neveu] , Éloge de M. Sourbry, Chambery, 1775.

Morley-Pegge, Reginald. The French Horn. A Benn Study, Music, Instruments of the Orchestra. Second Edition. London: Ernest Benn Limited/New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1973. ISBN 0510366015 051036607 Pbk. 0393021718 (USA)

 "Sketches of French Musical History, XVI, The Opera Comique of the Present Day", Dwight's Journal of Music, Boston, v. XIX, no. 7, May 18, 1861

L'Univers Musical, Paris, v. 2, no. 8,  April 15, 1854,

Vallas. Léon; La Musique à Lyon au Dix-Huitième Siècle, Tome I, La Musique à L’Académie, Édition de la Revue Musicale de Lyon, Novembre, 1908

Waterhouse, William, The New Langwill Index of Wind Instrument Makers and Inventors, pub.Tony Bingham, London 1993

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