A prolific composer of the 18th Century, Boismortier's works, many of which were intended for amateurs and could be played by various combinations of instruments, enabled him to live a comfortable life of luxury without holding any official post. He was one of the greatest composers of music for the hurdy-gurdy.
Born on 23 December 1689, Boismortier spent his childhood in Thionville, France before becoming receveur de la régie royale des tabacs (in charge of tobacco) in 1713 for the Roussillon troops in Perpignan. Having married the daughter of the city treasurer in 1720, he settled in Paris in 1723 and took out a royal privilege the following year that allowed him to engrave and publish his own works. Publications provided a steady income and from 1743-45 he was orcehstral conductor at the Foire St Laurent.
Boismortier's surviving works demonstrate great musical facility, particularly in the large number of his concertos, many of which are in the French style of François Couperin's Concerts royaux (1722) and Rameau's Pièces de clavecin en concert (1741). He wrote extensively for the fashionable instruments of the time, including the hurdy-gurdy and the transverse flute, ensuring his music would be commercially profitable. Boismortier also wrote cantatas and motets that skillfuly blend the French and Italian traditions, and tutors for the flute and descant viol, now unfortunately lost.