Louis-Gabriel Guillemain was a French Baroque composer and violinist. He was a pioneer of the Italian instrumental style in France.
Guillemain was born in Paris in late 1705 and raised by the Count de Rochechouart who ensured that Guillemain received a thorough music education early on. Guillemain studied the violin, eventually travelling to Italy to study with Giovanni Battista Somi and Jean-Marie Leclair. He was employed at the royal court in Versailles and became one of the highest paid court musicians.
Upon his return to France, Guillemain was appointed violinist at the Lyon opera and then first violinist at the Royal Academy in Dijon in the spring of 1734. Guillemain later moved to Paris, where he was an active participant in the music community as a violinist and composer of sonatas.
Just two years after his marriage to Catherine Langlais in 1757, Guillemain entered into the service of the king as a violinist. His final compositions date from 1762.
As a violinist, Guillemain was hailed as the best in Paris and described in a letter by Louis-Claude Daquin as ‘a man full of fire, genius and life…he is perhaps the most extraordinary and adroit violinist one can hear play. There are no difficulties that can stump him and he can compose learned pieces which sometimes embarrass his rivals. Among the great Masters, this celebrated artist is one of the most productive. His works are full of touching beauty’.