(b Paris, 15 April 1774; d Paris, 2 Dec 1852). French writer on music. He first studied mathematics at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris with Monge. His musical studies consisted of cello lessons with Barny and tuition in singing and harmony with Perne. Fayolle soon took an interest in literature and literary history; he began editing works of minor poets and published some of his own pieces of light and amatory verse. He also made a French translation of the sixth book of the Aeneid. Between 1805 and 1809 his Les quatre saisons du Parnasse appeared, a 16-volume work containing a number of articles devoted to music and including reviews of works by Le Sueur, Méhul, Spontini and Kreutzer. The Dictionnaire historique des musiciens, which he wrote in collaboration with Alexandre Choron, appeared in 1810–11. From 1815 to 1829 Fayolle lived in London, where he acquired a certain notoriety for his publication of courses on French literature. He continued his musical researches at the British Museum, examining a large number of books and manuscripts. He also collaborated in the editing of The Harmonicon, for which he wrote musico-literary articles and biographical notices on Boccherini, Tartini, Viotti, Méhul, Cherubini, Zingarelli and others. After his return to Paris in 1830 he contributed entries on musicians to the supplement of Michaud’s Biographie universelle. He spent his last years in an old people’s home and died in poverty, more or less forgotten by his contemporaries.
Fayolle is best known for his compilation of the Dictionnaire des musiciens. To write this work, for which Choron supplied virtually nothing but the introduction and a few articles, Fayolle had to rely heavily on the work of the earlier music historians and lexicographers Gerber, Forkel, Burney and La Borde; Fétis, in his Biographie universelle des musiciens, accused him of plagiarism. Besides the Dictionnaire des musiciens and the articles for Michaud’s dictionary, Fayolle wrote two biographical books on violinists, Notices sur Corelli, Tartini, Gaviniés, Pugnani et Viotti (1810) and Paganini et Bériot (1831). The latter, a disproportionately planned pamphlet of 64 pages, which devotes only a few lines to Bériot, provides a list of the most important European violinists of the 18th and early 19th centuries. In it Fayolle questioned the value of Paganini’s purely technical mastery of his instrument. ‘Let us beware’, he wrote, ‘dexterity in itself is not genuine talent. Today the violin is no longer a science, and the art of playing it is only a manifestation of dexterity.’ He also intended to publish a larger Histoire du violon, but this project was never realized.
Among the periodicals to which Fayolle contributed are the Magazin encyclopédique, Le Mercure, Journal des arts and Courrier des spectacles. Edouard Fétis, in his obituary in the Revue et gazette musicale (19 Dec 1852), spoke of two operas of which he seems to have been the author, Hercule au mont d’Oeta and Anacréon à Théon; no other information about Fayolle’s compositions survives. Yet, for historians interested in musical life during the Empire, especially opera, Fayolle furnished much useful and interesting material.
Les quatre saisons du Parnasse, ou Choix de poésies légères avec des mélanges littéraires et des notices sur les ouvrages nouveaux et sur les nouvelles pièces de théâtre (Paris, 1805–9)
Notices sur Corelli, Tartini, Gaviniés, Pugnani et Viotti (Paris, 1810)
with A.Choron: Dictionnaire historique des musiciens, artistes et amateurs, morts ou vivants (Paris, 1810–11/R)
Paganini et Bériot (Paris, 1831)
Fayrfax [Fayrefax, Fairfax], Robert
(b Deeping Gate, Lincs., 23 April 1464; d ?St Albans, ? 24 Oct 1521). English composer. More music survives by him than by any other English composer of his generation, and some of his music continued to attract interest long after that of his close contemporaries had been forgotten. Although he contributed to most of the musical genres cultivated in England he is particularly important for his cyclic masses.
Nothing is known of his early career, but it seems likely that he was indebted to the influence of his family’s neighbour and landlord, Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII. He was a lay clerk or Gentleman of the Royal Household Chapel by 6 December 1497, when he was granted the chaplaincy of Snodhill Castle, Herefordshire (which he relinquished on 16 November 1498). His name gradually made its way up the list of clerks present at state ceremonies during the reign of Henry VII: he is listed 13th among the clerks at the funeral of Henry's son Edmund (d 19 June 1500), ninth among those at the funeral of Henry's wife Elizabeth of York (23 February 1503) and fifth at the funeral of the king himself (9 May 1509). In 1502 he requested a corrody at the monastery of Stanley, Wiltshire; the request was evidently granted, because on 21 February 1513 he relinquished the corrody to his chapel colleague John Fisher.
The accession of Henry VIII seems to have brought Fayrfax more rapid advancement. His name heads the lists of clerks present at Henry's coronation (24 June 1509), at the burial of the infant Prince Henry (27 February 1511, when for the first time he is styled ‘M. Doctor Farefax’), and at the Field of the Cloth of Gold (June–July 1520). On 20 June 1509 the new king granted him a lifetime annuity of £9 2s. 6d.; from 1513 onwards he shared this annuity with one Robert Bithsey or Blithsee. On 10 September 1514 he was appointed a Knight of the King's Alms of Windsor, receiving 12d. a day for life. On each New Year's Day from 1516 to 1520 inclusive he gave the king a present and received a generous payment in return: £13 6s. 8d. ‘in Reward for a boke’; £20 ‘for a boke of Antemys’; £20 ‘for a pricksonge boke’; £20 ‘for a balet boke lymned’; and £13 6s. 8d. for an unspecified gift. Between 1509 and 1513 he received annual payments for boarding and teaching two choristers of the chapel. Among other payments made to him was one on 3 July 1511 for material for a riding-gown.
Fayrfax graduated MusB at Cambridge in 1501, took the DMus there in 1504 and was incorporated DMus at Oxford in 1511. In 1502 he joined the City Fraternity of St Nicholas, a guild of parish clerks in London to which many professional musicians, including some resident outside London, belonged. His death date is given in a 17th-century sketch of the monumental brass subsequently lost from his tomb in St Albans Abbey. The administration of his estate was granted to his wife on 14 November 1521. The fact of his burial in St Albans Abbey, and compositions by him in honour of St Alban (the Missa Albanus and the motet O Albane Deo grate or O Maria Deo grata associated with it), may imply a connection between him and the abbey. He was evidently in St Albans on 28 March 1502 to receive a payment made there to him by Queen Elizabeth ‘for setting an Anthem of oure lady and Saint Elisabeth’, probably the motet Aeternae laudis lilium. Although his position in the Royal Household Chapel would presumably have prevented him accepting full-time employment in another institution, it is not impossible that he had a more informal role at St Albans involving periodic attendance and the occasional composition of music; the favour in which the abbey was held by the royal family might even have encouraged this.
29 compositions by Fayrfax are known to survive, some in an incomplete state; they include six cyclic masses, two Magnificat settings, ten votive antiphons, eight part-songs and three textless (probably instrumental) pieces. Several other works, including a Nunc dimittis, three votive antiphons and some sequences, are known only from contemporary references. A few of his works can be approximately dated on manuscript or other secondary evidence. His earliest compositions include the Magnificat regale and the votive antiphons Ave lumen gratiae and Salve regina, which were all in the Eton Choirbook (GB-WRec 178, edited in MB, x–xii, 1956–61) and hence date from before about 1505. Aeternae laudis lilium was probably in existence by 1502 (see above). The Missa ‘Regali ex progenie’ copied for King's College, Cambridge in 1503–4 may have been his; in 1508–9 the college paid for the copying of sequences by him and Cornysh. An inscription in the Lambeth Choirbook (GB-Llp 1) states that he wrote the Missa ‘O quam glorifica’ ‘for his forme in proceadinge to bee Doctor’, which evidently refers to the Cambridge doctorate which he obtained in 1504. A chronology of Fayrfax's later music must rely heavily upon stylistic evidence.
Most of Fayrfax's church music employs the five-voice texture – treble, mean, contratenor, tenor and bass – normal in England during the early Tudor period. However, whereas many of the Eton Choirbook composers habitually give the contratenor and tenor precisely the same tessitura, Fayrfax tended to keep the tenor slightly lower. Like his contemporaries he articulated his music by means of contrasts of metre and texture. Most of his antiphons and mass movements begin in triple metre and change to duple about halfway through; some return to triple metre towards the end. Fully scored sections alternate with passages for fewer voices (usually two or three) which may have been intended for soloists. In some works, such as Lauda vivi, he combined musical repetition with rapid changes of vocal scoring – a procedure more characteristic of the next generation of English composers. His music is rarely as elaborate as that of his contemporaries; even in reduced-voice sections, which Davy, Cornysh and others often treated as opportunities for displays of vocal agility, Fayrfax wrote with restraint (compare his Magnificat ‘O bone Jesu’ with the settings of the same canticle by Turges, Cornysh and Prentice). Yet his music can be rhythmically as complex as that of any composer of his time, not only in the doctoral Missa ‘O quam glorifica’(which is a demonstration of intellectual virtuosity) but in many other works in which he created and sustained cross-rhythms and syncopations. While he shared the English predilection for a steady harmonic rhythm, his harmonic style often sounds more modern than that of his compatriots. He preferred root movement by 4ths and 5ths, especially at cadences, and had a fondness for textures implicitly motivated by harmony rather than by linear counterpoint; the section of Maria plena virtute beginning ‘Dixit Jesus dilectionis’ is a uniquely powerful example of text-sensitive harmonically conceived homophony.
Fayrfax's handling of imitation is particularly interesting. Like most early Tudor composers he seems to have regarded imitation mainly as a decorative device which could also create short-term continuity; he seldom pursued a point for more than three or four notes or used it in every voice. On the other hand, he occasionally made his imitative writing more audible than usual by leaving space in the texture around it (as in Aeternae laudis lilium and Maria plena virtute). It is hard to see a consistent pattern of development in his imitative technique. An early work such as Salve regina, which shows signs of inexperience in its parallelisms and awkward treatment of dissonance, contains about as much imitation as the thoroughly mature Maria plena virtute, while Aeternae laudis lilium, which is likely to date from as early as 1502, contains some remarkably advanced examples of imitative writing. If some aspects of Fayrfax's style seem forward-looking, others are decidedly traditional. For example, he shared with his contemporaries and predecessors (at least as far back as Dunstaple) a fondness for architectural schemes dependent on numerical symmetries and proportions. Design based upon number is handled with unusual virtuosity in the Missa ‘O quam glorifica’; this Mass may originally have utilised an esoteric type of notation considered appropriate in a doctoral exercise. At its best, Fayrfax's music evinces qualities of clarity, balance and directness of utterance which are very uncommon in English music of the time; this is probably why some of his works such as the Magnificat ‘O bone Jesu’ and the votive antiphons Ave Dei Patris and Maria plena virtute were still being copied almost a hundred years after his death, when most of the music of his generation had long been forgotten. His setting of Ave Dei Patris lived on also in another way, in that the young Thomas Tallis based his own setting of the text heavily upon it.
Fayrfax's masses belong to a native tradition extending from Leonel Power, whose Missa ‘Alma redemptoris mater’ probably dates from the early 1420s, to Sheppard, Tye and Tallis in the 1550s. All use head-motives, all but one are based upon a plainchant cantus firmus given to the tenor voice in the fully scored sections, and none includes a Kyrie. The Missa ‘Regali ex progenie’ comes closest to conventional English practice: the cantus firmus appears twice each in the Gloria and Credo, first in triple and then in duple metre, and once each in the Sanctus and Agnus. The Missa ‘O quam glorifica’ is based upon an unusually long cantus firmus which is stated only once in each movement. In complete contrast, the Missa Albanus presents a nine-note ostinato cantus firmus 30 times, in inversion, retrograde and retrograde inversion as well as in its original form; the votive antiphon O Maria Deo grata (which originally had a text beginning ‘O Albane deo grate’) is closely related to this mass, sharing its cantus firmus, some other musical material, and certain numerical properties. The Missa ‘O bone Jesu’ differs from Fayrfax's other masses in lacking a cantus firmus; instead it shares musical material with his antiphon O bone Jesu (of which only the mean part survives) and also with his Magnificat ‘O bone Jesu’; the fragmentary state of the antiphon makes it impossible to trace the relationship in detail, but the techniques involved clearly anticipate the later parody mass or ‘derived mass’. There appears also to have been a material relationship between the Missa ‘Regali ex progenie’ and the votive antiphon Gaude flore virginali, of which only the bass part survives, in that portions of the cantus firmus of the mass can be made to fit above this bass line; Benham has suggested that the Magnificat regale also has thematic links with this mass, but these links seem rather tenuous.
In his two Magnificat settings Fayrfax provided polyphony only for the even-numbered verses, the others being sung to the appropriate plainchant tone according to standard English practice. the Magnificat ‘O bone Jesu’ is based upon the faburden of the 7th tone, while the Magnificat regale is based upon that of the 8th tone; in both settings the faburden is more obvious in the fully scored verses than in those for reduced voices. Faburden also appears in his setting of the hymn O lux beata trinitas, quoted in a Scottish treatise of the late 1550s. Apart from O Maria Deo grata and Gaude flore virginali, which share their cantus firmi with the Missa Albanus and the Missa ‘Regali ex progenie’, Fayrfax's surviving votive antiphons appear to be freely composed; in this he anticipates his immediate successors Taverner, Aston, Ludford and Tallis.
All Fayrfax's partsongs are in duple metre. Most of them are written for three voices in a moderately florid style, with rather more consistent imitation than is usual in his church music, and with careful regard for word–setting. Of the textless pieces, the fragmentary Ut re mi fa sol la was apparently a hexachord fantasia, while Mese tenor and Paramese tenor are puzzle canons.
only sources additional to those given in edition are listed
Edition: Robert Fayrfax: Collected Works, ed. E.B. Warren, CMM, xvii/1–3 (1959–66) [complete edn except for lost works]
Missa Albanus, 5vv
Missa ‘O bone Jesu’, 5vv
Missa ‘O quam glorifica’, 5vv, Oxford, GB-Oas SR59 b 13
Missa ‘Regali ex progenie’, 5vv
Missa ‘Sponsus amat sponsam’, 4vv, GB-Lbl Add.34049
Missa ‘Tecum principium’, 5vv
Magnificat ‘O bone Jesu’, 5vv, Lbl Add.34049, R.M.24.H.11
Magnificat regale, 5vv
Aeternae laudis lilium, 5vv
Ave Dei Patris, 5vv, Lbl Add.34049, R.M.24.H.11
Ave lumen gratiae, 4vv (2p. frag.)
Gaude flore virginali (B only; ‘Regali’)
Lauda vivi alpha, 5vv (T lost; completed edn by N. Sandon, Newton Abbot, 1999)
Maria plena virtute, 5vv, Lbl R.M.24.D.2
O bone Jesu, ?5vv (mean only)
O lux beata trinitas, 4vv
O Maria Deo grata, 5vv (T lost; ‘Albanus’ in one source; completed edn by N. Sandon, Newton Abbot, 1995)
H.Benham: Latin Church Music in England c.1460–1575 (London, 1977)
J.Stevens: Music and Poetry in the Early Tudor Court (Cambridge, 1979)
N.J.Sandon: The Henrician Partbooks belonging to Peterhouse, Cambridge (Cambridge, University Library, Peterhouse Manuscripts 471–474): a Study, with Restorations of the Incomplete Compositions Contained in them (diss., U. of Exeter, 1983)
P.Fugler: Pre-Compositional Mathematical Planning in Mass Settings by Nicholas Ludford and Robert Fayrfax(diss., U. of Exeter, 1990)
D.Fallows: ‘The Drexel fragments of early Tudor song’, RMARC, xxvi (1993), 5–18
R.Bray: ‘Editing and Performing musica speculativa’, English Choral Practice 1400–1650, ed. J. Morehen (Cambridge, 1995), 48–73
R.Bray: ‘Music and the Quadrivium in Early Tudor England’, ML, lxxv (1995), 1–18