In —35, while Guillaume Dufay was first in the service of the duke of Savoy, he wrote a chanson, Se la face ay pale, thought to be in honor of Anne de Lusignan, who was the duchess of Savoy part of the kingdom of Burgundy. Although his whereabouts prior to are unknown, it is clear that he lived in Savoy between and , and among the many compositions he wrote for various occasions was a cyclic mass, the Missa Se la face ay pale, based on the tenor of the earlier chanson. One can only guess at what might have been the very special significance the earlier chanson had for the Savoy court. Punning Rhymes. Se la face ay pale La cause est amer.

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Early life[ edit ] From the evidence of his will, he was probably born in Beersel , in the vicinity of Brussels , the illegitimate child of an unknown priest and a woman named Marie Du Fayt. She moved with her son to Cambrai early in his life, staying with a relative who was a canon of the cathedral there. In June , aged around 16, he had already been given a benefice as chaplain at St. He likely stayed there until , at which time he returned to Cambrai. In he left Cambrai for Italy — first to Rimini and then to Pesaro , where he worked for the Malatesta family.

Several of his compositions can be dated to this period; they contain colloquial references to Italy. There he met the composers Hugo and Arnold de Lantins , who were also among the musicians of the Malatesta household. In Du Fay returned to Cambrai, because of the illness and subsequent death of the relative with whom his mother was staying. By , however, he had returned to Italy. In Bologna , he entered the service of Cardinal Louis Aleman , the papal legate.

While in Bologna he became a deacon , and by he was ordained priest. By this time his fame had spread, and he had become one of the most respected musicians in Europe. As a consequence, honors in the form of benefices came to him from churches in his homeland.

He had left Rome because of a crisis in the finances of the papal choir while seeking to escape the turbulence and uncertainty during the struggle between the papacy and the Council of Basel. By he was again in the service of the papal chapel, but this time it was in Florence — Pope Eugene having been driven from Rome in by the establishment of an insurrectionary republic there, sympathetic to the Council of Basel and the Conciliar movement. In Du Fay visited the town. At this time Du Fay returned to his homeland, arriving in Cambrai by December of that year.

In order to be a canon at Cambrai, he needed a law degree, which he obtained in ; he may have studied at University of Turin in John the Evangelist. While in Cambrai he collaborated with Nicolas Grenon on a complete revision of the liturgical musical collection of the cathedral, which included writing an extensive collection of polyphonic music for services.

In addition to his musical work, he was active in the general administration of the cathedral. In his mother Marie died, and was buried in the cathedral; and in Du Fay moved into the house of the previous canon, which was to remain his primary residence for the rest of his life. This time he did not return to Cambrai for six years, and during that time he attempted to find either a benefice or an employment which would allow him to stay in Italy.

While in Savoy he served more-or-less officially as choirmaster for Louis, Duke of Savoy , but he was more likely in a ceremonial role, since the records of the chapel never mention him. Final years in Cambrai[ edit ] When he returned to Cambrai for his final years, he was appointed canon of the cathedral.

He was now the most renowned composer in Europe. He also wrote a Requiem mass around , which is lost. Death[ edit ] After an illness of several weeks, Du Fay died on 27 November He had requested that his motet Ave regina celorum be sung for him as he died, with pleas for mercy interpolated between verses of the antiphon, but time was insufficient for this to be arranged.

Du Fay was buried in the chapel of St. After the destruction of the cathedral the tombstone was lost, but it was found in it was being used to cover a well , and is now in the Palais des Beaux Arts museum in Lille.

Music and influence[ edit ] Du Fay composed in most of the common forms of the day, including masses , motets , Magnificats , hymns , simple chant settings in fauxbourdon , and antiphons within the area of sacred music, and rondeaux , ballades , virelais and a few other chanson types within the realm of secular music.

None of his surviving music is specifically instrumental, although instruments were certainly used for some of his secular music, especially for the lower parts; all of his sacred music is vocal. Instruments may have been used to reinforce the voices in actual performance for almost any of his works. The top line is a paraphrase of the chant; the middle line, designated "fauxbourdon", not written follows the top line but exactly a perfect fourth below. The bottom line is often, but not always, a sixth below the top line; it is embellished, and reaches cadences on the octave.


Guillaume Du Fay

Its courtly text speaks in clever, punning rhymes of the pale-faced, dejected lover. Another Savoyard event -- such as the wedding of the Dauphin Louis of Savoy -- may have provided the context later for him to construct an entire cantus firmus mass setting upon the tenor line of his chanson. English composers early in the century had begun to experiment with devices for the musical unification of all five movements of the Mass Ordinary. The chanson tenor melody, divided into three phrases and sung in the tenor voice of the Mass throughout, provides the framework for each movement of the Mass. In the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, this cantus firmus is given once over the course of each movement, with duo sections punctuating the structure; the "wordier" movements Gloria and Credo give the tenor melody three times each.


Missa Se la face ay pale



Missa Se la face ay pale, for 4 voices


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