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Grassineau, Musical Dictionary (1740): John Christopher Pepusch

By Abby Bilson and Katie Malquest

James Grassineau

James Grassineau

James Grassineau (c.1715-1769) , a chemist by trade and a lexicographer by circumstance, was the literary assistant to J.C. Pepusch in London at the time of the Brossard translation. Fluent in French, able to comprehend Latin, and knowing “a little” music, Grassineau worked alongside Pepusch, in addition to contributors M. Greene and J.E. Galliard, to curate and translate the contents of A Musical Dictionary

John Christopher Pepusch (c. 1667-1752) was a prolific composer and highly sought-after teacher who collaborated on and inspired the creation of this dictionary. A contemporary of George Frederic Handel, as well as holding a doctorate of the University of Oxford, Pepusch is most renowned for his arrangement of the music for The Beggar's Opera (1728) to the libretto of John Gay. As a master educator of music theory and an enlightenment theoretician, Pepusch sought to structure musical knowledge into dictionary form. As this dictionary was the first of its kind, both contemporary and classic musical ideas were incorporated to create a complete, holistic archive of musical knowledge and theory, which was at the heart of its intention, to educate the common man.