Jean-Baptiste Loeillet (1680 - 1730), also known as John Loeillet of London, gained fame as a composer of elegant instrumental works, which include trio sonatas for recorder and oboe, sonatas for recorder, trio sonatas for two flutes, and trio sonatas for two violins.
Born in Ghent, into a musical family, Loeillet was the son of Jean-Baptiste-François Loeillet (1653 - 1685) and his second wife, Barbe Buys. Since Loeillet's father died in 1685, it is safe to assume that the composer grew up in the household of his paternal uncle, Pieter Loeillet (1652 - 1735), father of the Jean-Baptiste Loeillet (1688 - ca. 1720) of Ghent.
Scholars speculate that Loeillet moved to London around 1705; in 1707, he was already known as a player in the Drury Lane orchestra. An exceptional flutist and oboist, Loeillet also played in the Queen's Theatre opera band. Around 1710, Loeillet, who had become a prominent figure of London's musical life, started a weekly concert series at his home in Covent garden. On one of these concerts, in 1714, Loeillet introduced the English to Arcangelo Corelli's Concerti grossi, Op. 6.
It seems that Loeillet, despite the fact that his harpsichord works are not his most inspired compositions, became a fashionable harpsichord teacher in London. Indeed, his Nine suites, although pleasant and well-crafted compositions written for amateur players, pale in comparison to his other works. For example, while his sonatas for recorder and oboe seem quite traditional, with the bass part subordinated to the treble instruments, the upper voices are finely balanced, yielding a pleasing texture. More interesting are his trio sonatas for two flutes, in which the treble melodies seem more intriguing, but which remain, nevertheless, within a traditional, predictable formal context. Interestingly, his most accomplished compositions are the trio sonatas for two violins, which build on the legacy of Vivaldi and Corelli. Having absorbed the technical and thematic idiom of the Italian violin school, Loeillet's writing reconciles tradition and artistic inventiveness. These works, as musicologists have written, may remind listeners of the somewhat more sophisticated contrapuntal style of Loeillet's cousin, Jean-Baptiste Loeillet of Ghent. Eclipsed, perhaps, by his more cosmopolitan cousin, Loeillet was nevertheless highly appreciated in London, where he spent the rest of his life. In fact, his music was also known in the American colonies.