'''Jean-Philippe Rameau''' (; - ) was one of the most important French composers and music theorists of the Baroque era.''New Grove'' p. 243: "A theorist of European stature, he was also France's leading 18th-century composer." He replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as the dominant composer of French opera and is also considered the leading French composer for the harpsichord of his time, alongside François Couperin.Girdlestone p. 14: "It is customary to couple him with Couperin as one couples Haydn with Mozart or Ravel with Debussy."
Little is known about Rameau's early years, and it was not until the 1720s that he won fame as a major theorist of music with his ''Treatise on Harmony'' (1722) and also in the following years as a composer of masterpieces for the harpsichord, which circulated throughout Europe. He was almost 50 before he embarked on the operatic career on which his reputation chiefly rests today. His debut, ''Hippolyte et Aricie'' (1733), caused a great stir and was fiercely attacked by the supporters of Lully's style of music for its revolutionary use of harmony. Nevertheless, Rameau's pre-eminence in the field of French opera was soon acknowledged, and he was later attacked as an "establishment" composer by those who favoured Italian opera during the controversy known as the Querelle des Bouffons in the 1750s. Rameau's music had gone out of fashion by the end of the 18th century, and it was not until the 20th that serious efforts were made to revive it. Today, he enjoys renewed appreciation with performances and recordings of his music ever more frequent.