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Robert Ballard (1527-1588) started the business Le Roy & Ballard with his cousin, the composer Adrien Le Roy. They received the privilege to print music from King Henri II in 1551. The partners then became music printers to the king, as would the next 7 generations. Le Roy continued the firm with Ballard's widow until he died in 1598. Ballard's widow, Lucrèce Dugué Ballard, continued operating the business under the original imprint until her retirement in 1607.

The firm Le Roy and Ballard was particularly famous for the beauty of their printing. They published over 3,000 works in 350 editions in the first 47 years. They printed 25 books of chansons between 1551 and 1585; 1,963 chansons total. Works published included many of Lassus, a friend of Le Roy's, and others. The material used to print was good enough that it went largely unreplaced for almost 200 years, which would become the firm's eventual downfall.

Pierre Ballard (1575-1639), Robert's son, took the helm next. He became official music printer to Henri IV in 1607. Pierre had 8-10 children, among them Robert Ballard III. Upon Pierre's death (24 October 1639), Robert III (1610-1673) was named sole musical printer to King Louis XIII. The firm retained a monopoly while Robert ran it; they printed works by Du Mont, Mace, Lully, and others. Pierre was among the first to print orchestral scores, including the stage works of Cambert. By 1664, the firm owned three printing presses and employed three helpers.

Pierre's eldest son, Christophe (1641-1715) likewise took over upon the death of Robert Ballard III, and was also named sole music printer to the king. His brother, Pierre (II) printed music as well, but he eventually had to turn it over to Cristophe—his printing is insignificant by comparison. Under Cristophe, the firm reached another high point, with 4 presses, and several helpers and two apprentices. Ballard, indeed, was practically the only music printer of the time; works by Lully, Brossard, Campra, Charpentier, Collasse, Couperin, Dandrieu, Marais, and others were among the names in their catalogue. However, the Ballards were threatened by the new engraved plate method, as they still used movable type, and had expenses from a series of lawsuits—notably one brought against Lully's son, who had been printing and selling his father's music on his own.

Cristophe's son, Jean-Baptiste-Cristophe (1663-1750) received the "royal privilege" when Cristophe died. He moved the shop to rue Saint-Jean-de-Beauvais. In an attempt to attract broader audiences, Jean-Baptiste-Cristophe printed a great many 'Parodies,' 'Amusements,' etc. However, he also printed works of Lully, Destouches, and Campra, and published Rameau's famous Nouveau système. The house began to decline at this time.

Jean-Baptiste-Cristophe's son Cristophe-Jean-François (1701-1765) was named printer to the King, as the previous six were. The firm's significance basically ended during his tenure. The police described him as 'lazy, untalented' and other, unkinder words. The Ballards were even abolished in 1790. Christophe-Jean-François's son, Robert-Cristophe (d. 1812), took over from his widow, and tried to carry on, moving frequently. The last of the dynasty was his son, Christophe-Jean-François II, who died in 1825.


  • First and Second Editions of Lully's Operas.

Imprints, Addresses, Agencies


  • Ballard & Le Roy (1551-1607)
  • Pierre Ballard (1607-1639)
  • Robert Ballard (1639-1673)
  • Christophe Ballard (1673-1715)
  • Jean-Baptiste Christophe Ballard (1715-1750)
  • Christophe Jean-François Ballard (1750-1765)

Plate Numbers

Plate Composer Work Year
Lully Amadis, LWV 63 1684

Sources Consulted

  • 1. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, edited by Stanley Sadie.
New York and London: Macmillan Publications, 1980.
E-Documatation in the Humanities. Tula Giannini, 2003.

Authority control

  • VIAF (Christophe Ballard)
  • VIAF (Christophe-Jean-François Ballard)
  • VIAF (Jean-Baptiste-Christophe Ballard)
  • VIAF (Pierre Ballard)
  • VIAF (Pierre-Robert-Christophe Ballard)
  • VIAF (Robert Ballard)
  • VIAF (Robert Ballard)
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