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French dramatist
Born 1719 Died 1797

Michel Jean Sedaine was born at Paris on the 4th of July 1719. His father, who was an architect, died when Sedaine was quite young, leaving no fortune, and the boy began life as a mason's labourer. He was at last taken as pupil by an architect whose kindness he eventually repaid by the help he was able to give to his benefactor's grandson, the painter David. Meanwhile he had done his best to repair his deficiencies of education, and in 1750 he published a Recuell de pieces fugitives, which included fables, songs and pastorals. His especial talent was, however, for light opera. He produced Le Diable d'quatre (1756), the music being by several composers; Blaise le Savetier (1759), for the music of Danican Philidor; On ne savise jamais de tout (1761) and others with Pierre Alexandre de Monsigny; Aucassin et Nicoletie (1780), Richard Coeur de Lion (1784), and Amphitryon (1788) with André Grétry.

Sedaine's vaudevilles and operettas attracted the attention of Diderot, and two plays of his were accepted and performed at the Theatre Francais. The first and longest, the Philosophe sans le savoir, was acted in 1765; the second, a lively one-act piece, La Gageure imprevue in 1768. These two at once took their place as stock pieces and are still ranked among the best French plays, each of its class. Except these two pieces little or nothing of his has kept the stage or the shelves, but Sedaine may be regarded as the literary ancestor of Scribe and Dumas. He had the practical knowledge of the theatre, which enabled him to carry out the ideas of Diderot and give him claims to be regarded as the real founder of the domestic drama in France. Sedaine, who became a member of the Academy (1786), and secretary for architecture of the fine arts division, died at Paris on the 17th of May 1797.

He wrote two historical dramas, Raymond V Comte de Toulouse, and Maillard, ou Paris sauvé. His Oeuvres (1826) contain a notice of his life by Ducis.

Being the entry for SEDAINE, MICHEL JEAN in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

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