New Findings on French Polyphonic Masses (1587-1626)

Laurent Guillo

Monday, May 15, 2017

The following is a guest post by Laurent Guillo:

In November 2016, a volume gathering 26 music prints published by the Ballard workshop in Paris between 1587 and 1626 was discovered in the early books collection of the Bibliothèque de Fels (Institut catholique de Paris; RISM siglum: F-Pic). At the beginning are 14 polyphonic masses by Orlando di Lasso, printed between 1587 and 1617, including five previously unknown editions (Missa Ad placitum 4v and Dic Domina 5v of 1607, Missa Jager 4v and Domine Dominus noster 6v of 1613, Missa Quinti toni 4v of 1617). Nearly all of these 14 copies are unique in France (others are only found in London and Cologne).

In addition, there are 12 prints with music by Jehan (Jean) Titelouze, Hugues de Fontenay, Eustache Du Caurroy, Claude Le Jeune, Jean de Bournonville, and Pierre Lauverjat. Here the findings are rather extraordinary. New editions of extant masses include the first edition of Du Caurroy’s Missa pro defunctis 5v (1610, known through its 1636 reprint) and Missa Ave Maria 4v by Bournonville (1618, known through its Bogard reprint in 1619). Unknown works are the two (previously) lost masses of Du Caurroy (Quam dilecta tabernacula 4v and Quam bonus Israel 4v, in 1610), the first known mass by Fontenay (1622, a composer working in Bordeaux), a new set of Magnificat secundum octo modos by Bournonville (1614), and four masses by Titelouze (In ecclesia 4v, Votiva 4v, Cantate 6v, Simplici corde 6v, all 1626). This composer is already famous for having laid the cornerstone of the French organ school, with his Hymnes and Magnificat of 1623 and 1626.

This volume probably reflects what was sung in French churches of this time: a mix between late Renaissance masters such as Du Caurroy and Lassus, and the first generation of French seventeenth-century masters who, as Titelouze did, have traced the road of Baroque influence. The reason why this volume had not been identified before remains a bit mysterious: it comes from the music library of the Minims of Paris, set up for the personal use of the theorist Marin Mersenne, and entered the library in 1912 …

Bibliographical details can be found in: Laurent Guillo, “Découverte à la bibliothèque de Fels (Institut catholique de Paris)d’un recueil de messes contenant des œuvres retrouvées de Titelouze, Du Caurroy, Fontenay et Bournonville (Paris, 1587-1626),” Revue de musicologie 102/2 (2016), p. 379-394.

Image : Jehan Titelouze, Missa Simpli corde 6v. Paris: Pierre I Ballard, 1626. Paris, Institut Catholique: b.258(24).

Share Tweet Email



All news posts are by the RISM Editorial Center staff unless otherwise noted. Reuse of RISM’s own texts is permitted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. In all other cases, please contact the individual author.