Faà di Bruno, Giovanni Matteo [Horatio, Orazio] 83


(ii) The Reformation and religious conflicts



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(ii) The Reformation and religious conflicts.


Religious conflicts played a major part both in modifying certain features of musical life and in developing the style and forms (chansons spirituelles and canticles) of the ecclesiastical repertory. Until the middle of the 16th century the relative tolerance of the government allowed many Calvinist communities to develop, and psalm singing became a driving force in their struggle for freedom of worship (see Psalms, metrical, §II, 2). In 1551 groups of Calvinists began to go around Lyons singing psalms and abusing the Catholic clergy; psalms were sung publicly at the Pré aux Clercs in Paris in 1558; the following year in Bourges ‘the said psalms [were sung] with much melody by large companies every evening’, and the same thing happened in Béziers in 1561. The fashion for Protestant melodies from Strasbourg and Geneva was reinforced when such officially appointed musicians as Pierre Certon and Janequin made four-part settings of them, and it continued up to 1562, when the 150 psalms translated by Marot and Théodore de Bèze were distributed. The rift between the religious parties culminated that year in the destruction of many organs (at Le Mans, Rouen, Caen, Angoulême, etc.) regarded by Protestants as papist symbols. In the ensuing religious wars two of the leading composers of the time lost their lives: Claude Goudimel died in the St Bartholomew’s Day massacres at Lyons in 1572, and Antoine de Bertrand was killed by Protestants at Toulouse in 1581. Claude Le Jeune only just escaped the Catholic League in Paris and took refuge in La Rochelle before becoming compositeur ordinaire to King Henri IV. After abjuring Protestantism in 1593, the king promulgated the Edict of Nantes (1598), which allowed Protestants freedom of worship in certain areas.

France, §I, 2: Art music: The Burgundian court

(iii) The university, the académies, the salons and guilds.


The university had largely ignored stylistic developments in music and had lost much of its influence. Janequin and Goudimel studied there for a while; Oronce Finé, a professor at the university, published a lute manual; and Jean Pena and Pierre Forcadel edited the musical writings of Euclid, which were published in 1557 and 1565. However, there was no original thinking on music theory: the only treatises published at this time (by Menehou, Guilliaud and Yssandon) were short, elementary manuals. Musicians with an interest in the practice of their art turned instead to more progressive centres. Chief among them was the Académie de Poésie et de Musique, founded in 1570 by Joachim Thibault de Courville and Jean-Antoine de Baïf with the purpose of restoring ‘the measure and rules of music as formerly employed by the Greeks and Romans’; one of its aims was to make the Académie a ‘school to serve as a nursery from which poets and musicians will one day come’, and where ‘musique mesurée à l’antique’ was taught (see Vers mesurés). Meetings were held every Sunday in Baïf’s house in the rue des Fossés-Saint-Victor on the left bank of the Seine. The music performed was secret to all but members of the Académie, and copying or communicating the works played at meetings was forbidden. The Parlement of Paris, with the support of the university, tried to oppose the registration of the letters patent on which the Académie was founded, but Charles IX overruled them. It is probable that while Lassus was in Paris he attended one of the meetings, for in a letter to Charles IX of August 1571 Baïf mentioned the ‘notable personages, both French and foreign’ received by the Académie. Hoping to convince the artistic world of the value of musique mesurée, Baïf had also planned to organize a meeting of all the musicians in Christendom to test the emotional effects of the works thus created. Under Henri III this first academy was followed by another, the Académie du Palais, directed by Guy du Faur de Pibrac, with its headquarters at the Louvre between 1576 and 1579. After the death of Courville in 1581 Baïf’s colleagues were Jacques du Faur and Claude Le Jeune, and later Jacques Mauduit, who in 1585 composed a requiem mass for the funeral of Ronsard.

Music was still taught in charitable institutions such as that founded in about 1578 by the apothecary Nicolas Houel: a drawing of 1583 shows a viol quartet practising in his Maison de Charité Chrétienne. A new feature of this period was the emergence of ‘salons’ where intellectuals met to discuss poetry, music and art. Nicolas Le Gendre, Sieur de Villeroy, welcomed the poet Desportes and the musicians Certon and Denis Caignet into his house. Among the most influential salons was that of Catherine de Clermont, Duchess of Retz and a lady at court, who herself played the lute. Among the many writers and musicians she received were Baïf, Belleau, Tyard, Costeley and Le Roy.



This was the time when confraternities of Penitents were founded, under the influence of the Counter-Reformation. Music played an essential part in their activities, particularly during large-scale processions. Most of them were located in cities in the south of France such as Toulouse, Marseilles and Aix. The Confrérie Sainte-Cécile was founded at the Augustinian monastery in Paris in May 1575; a surintendant and four maîtres, elected by their colleagues, made annual awards for ‘new motets or other worthy canticles’. Although its statutes have been preserved, we know nothing about its activities except that it probably took part in the procession of Penitents attended by Henri III in 1583. Much more is known about the Confrérie Sainte-Cécile founded at Evreux in 1570 by 21 citizens and the confraternity’s first maître. From 1575 it organised a ‘puy or council of music’ to award distinctions annually to the best compositions, which were then performed by the maîtrise of the cathedral. The names of musicians who received these awards up to 1589 include some of the greatest composers of the time: Lassus, Eustache Du Caurroy, Mauduit, Fabrice Marin Caietain, Paschal de L’Estocart and George de La Hèle. Another Confrérie Sainte-Cécile was founded at the church of St Pierre in Caen in 1564, but nothing is known of its activities.

France, §I, 2: Art music: The Burgundian court


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