Music prospered in France under the Sun King, Louis XIV at his court in Versailles. There he maintained a string group of 24 violins called the Vingt-Quatre Violons du Roi. He brought an Italian composer, Lully,  to Paris in 1621, to become director of state music. He sponsored a choir of 60, an outdoor wind group, and an orchestra. Also in his time the precursor to the Paris Opera was founded.

Rameau became famous in the late baroque period.  In the classical period, Mozart stayed in Paris with his Mother, and later his symphonies were performed in Paris. In the 19th century Opera was the most important aspect of French musical life, with Meyerbeer, Gounod and Bizet amongst its best known opera composers.  There seemed little taste for the strongly emerging romantic style in Germany and elsewhere, and Berlioz felt himself to be an outsider because he really belonged to that romantic movement.

Debussy introduced a new breath of air into French music with his impressionist style.