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Article

Eckhard Neubauer

(b Baghdad, July 779; d Samarra’, July 839). Arab musician. He was a son of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdī and a Persian slave at court called Shikla. He became famous for his fine and powerful voice with its range of four octaves, and first took part in court concerts during the reigns of Hārūn al-Rashīd (786–809) and al-Amīn (809–13). Proclaimed caliph in 817 in opposition to al-Ma’mūn (813–33), he had to abdicate after barely two years and went into hiding. In 825 he was pardoned and became a court musician once more under al-Ma’mūn and his successor al-Mu‘taṣim (833–42). He was a follower of the school of Ibn Jāmi‘ and represented a ‘soft’ style, probably influenced by Persian music, which also allowed freedom in rendering older works. His rival Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī accused him of stylistic uncertainty; fragments of their polemic writings are quoted in the Kitāb al-aghānī al-kabīr...

Article

Owen Wright

(fl first half of the 11th century). Arab musician and writer. The son of an eminent musician, he became a prominent singer at the Cairo court of the Fatimid caliph al-Ẓāhir (1021–36), and was still active as a teacher in 1057. His music treatise, completed after 1036 and entitled Ḥāwī al-funūn wa-salwat al-maḥzūn (‘Compendium of the arts to comfort sad hearts’), is of particular interest in that it deals with various topics of little concern to other authorities. Written from the perspective of a cultured musician rather than that of a philosopher-theorist, it calls upon a literary tradition of writing about music, and its historical content is frankly derivative, even if of interest for the implication of continuity with the court music of 9th-century Baghdad. But it is wide-ranging in its treatment of contemporary practice, dealing not only with such basics as mode and rhythm, but also with such matters as the normal sequence of events in performance, deportment and etiquette, the materials and construction of the ‘...

Article

Maria V. Coldwell

(fl late 12th century). Troubadour. She exchanged a tenso with Giraut de Bornelh, S’ieus quier conseil, bel’ amig’ Alamanda (PC 242.69). The music survives in one manuscript ( F-Pn f.f. 22543, f.8r; ed. in H. van der Werf and G. Bond: The Extant Troubadour Melodies, Rochester, NY, ...

Article

Benoit  

Pamela F. Starr

[Benedictus SiredeBenoctus de FranciaBenenoitBenedette di Giov. dito BenoitBenotto di GiovanniBenottus de Ferraria]

(fl 1436–55). French singer and composer. He was probably from the archdiocese of Sens in Haute-Bourgogne. His works appear in 15th-century musical sources under the name Benoit, but an authoritative papal document identifies him as Benedictus Sirede. He is first documented in 1436–7, as a singer for the confraternity of Orsanmichele in Florence. In 1438 he was recruited in Ferrara by Lorenzo de' Medici for the cathedral and baptistry choir of Florence, becoming choirmaster in 1439. He resigned from this position on 23 January 1448. From 1448 to 1450 he served in the chapel of Leonello d'Este in Ferrara; he was also a member of the papal chapel from December 1447 to February 1448, and again from January 1451 to October 1455.

Six works by Benoit survive, probably composed in the 1430s and 40s. All are in manuscripts copied in northern Italy during this period: I-Bc Q15, MOe...

Article

Ian D. Bent

[Blakesmit, Blakismet]

(fl c1261). English singer. One of three Englishmen described by the late 13th-century theorist Anonymus 4 as ‘good singers’ of mensural polyphony, who sang with great refinement (‘valde deliciose’). The theorist referred to him as ‘Blakesmit, at the court of the late King Henry [III]’. He was clerk of the king's chapel in ...

Article

Robert Falck

revised by John Haines

(b Autafort [now Hautefort], ?1150; d Dalon, nr Hautefort, before 1215). Troubadour. His birthplace was in the Périgord region of the former province of Limousin; he was lord of the family castle at Autafort. In about 1195 he entered the Cistercian monastery at Dalon, Ste Trie, and remained there until his death. He is probably best known for his praise of military and political exploits; in the eighth circle of Dante’s Inferno he is referred to as the ‘headless trunk that followed in the tread … and by the hair held its severed head’. He was punished in this way because he was the instigator of the quarrels between Henry II and his sons in the 1180s. Though his actual participation in these events has possibly been exaggerated by his medieval biographers, many of his poems do refer to the events directly or indirectly.

Of over 40 poems attributed to Bertran, only one, ...

Article

Theodore Karp

(b c1160; d after 1213). French trouvère. Gace’s shield was banded in red and silver (burelé de gueules et d’argent de huit pièces, and his name is merely a description of this blazonry, altered through the transposition of two letters. The name can be traced in two documents of 1212 and 1213: the first indicates that he owned land in Groslière (département Eure-et-Loire, arrondissement Dreux) and that he had dealings with the Knights Templar; the second records a gift from the future Louis VIII. Apart from these facts, all other biographical information about Gace rests on clues provided within his poetry. It is reasonably certain that he was born in Champagne, and that his home may have been Nanteuil-les-Meaux (département Seine-et-Marne, arrondissement Meaux). He appears to have spent some time at the court of Count Geoffrey II of Brittany, son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. The Count of Brittany is mentioned in ...

Article

Stephen Haynes

revised by Gwynn Spencer McPeek

[Capduill, Capduoill, Cabdueill, Capduch, Capduelh, Capdueil, Chapteuil] [Pontius de Capitolio]

(fl before 1190–after 1220). Troubadour. According to the brief medieval vida, he was a knight from the diocese of Puy-Ste-Marie-en-Velay (Haute-Loire). He can probably be identified with the Pontius de Capitolio who is documented from 1195 to 1220 in relation to his wife's property of Vertaizon, and who seems to have died by 1236. He must have been well known as a courtly poet by about 1190, to judge from a poem by Elias de Barjols which praises his ‘guaieza’ (literally ‘cheerfulness’, but with connotations of courtly elegance and general good breeding). At about this time he may also have exchanged verses with Folquet de Marseille and with the Catalan Guillem de Berguedà. His crusading songs have been convincingly dated to c1213, and two of his poems may be addressed to Beatrice of Savoy, who married Raymond-Berenger IV, Count of Provence, in 1217–19. The lady Azalaïs or Alazais, whose death he commemorated in a ...

Article

Robert Falck

(b Le Puy-en-Velay, ?1180; d ?Montpellier, ?1278). Troubadour. His place of birth, in the modern département of Haute-Loire, is known through his vida; a number of members of his family are also traceable there. The estimated date of his birth is based on a document which mentions a certain ‘Petrus Cardinalis’ who was employed as a clerk in 1204 by Raimon VI, Count of Toulouse. The vida tells us that Peire lived to be nearly 100 years old, and that he probably died in Montpellier, the principal residence of Jaime I, King of Aragon (1213–76). As a small boy, Peire attended a clerical school in order to learn reading and singing. It is doubtful whether he ever became a priest, but he did write a large number of Marian poems.

Over 90 poems have been attributed to him, of which three only have survived with melodies. It is evident from the ...

Article

Cardot  

Tom R. Ward

[Richard de Bellengues]

(b Rouen, c1380; d Brussels, Feb 25, 1470). French singer and composer. He was a priest, and appears as a singer in the Burgundian chapel between 1415 and 1419. He was in the Papal Chapel from 1422 to 1425. In 1422 he received a canonry in Notre Dame in Ligny and also became rector of St Willibrodus, near Antwerp. He later held ecclesiastical offices in Beauvais, Picquigny and possibly Rouen. By 1430 he may again have been active at the Burgundian court since his name appears in the list of singers in Binchois’ motet Nove cantum melodie, composed in Burgundy in that year. His name is found in the lists of singers from 1434 to 1464. He died in Brussels and was interred in Ste Gudule. His motto ‘Fais tout ce que tu vouldras/Avoir faist quand tu mourras’ served as his epitaph. His single surviving work is a rondeau for three voices ...

Article

Maria V. Coldwell

Article

James Grier

(b c965; d Limoges, April 26, 1025). French monk and cantor. He served at the abbey of Saint Martial in Limoges. Roger, who was the paternal uncle of Adémar de Chabannes, is known to have become cantor at the abbey after 1010 (see J. Grier, ‘Roger de Chabannes (d....

Article

Ian R. Parker

[Saint Sixt]

(b Thégra, nr Rocamadour, 1190; d c1253). Troubadour. He was the younger son of a poor vavasour and was active in Toulouse and certain courts in Spain before travelling to Italy in about 1218. He appears to have married in Italy and worked in the courts of Turin, Treviso and Auramala. He wrote the vida of Bernart de Ventadorn, and has been credited with many others. He composed a few chansons before his marriage but concentrated thereafter on sirventes, tensos and strophic exchanges (see Jeu-parti). His partners included Guillem of Baus, 4th Count of Orange, the Count of Rodez and probably Raimondo III of Turin. Only three of his 43 surviving songs have melodies (Anc enemics qu’eu agues, PC 457.3; Nuls hom no sap d’amic, tro l’a perdut, PC 457.26; Tres enemics e dos mals seignors ai, PC 457.40): all are in a regular ...

Article

Elizabeth Aubrey

(fl 1149–70). Troubadour. He was possibly the son of a burgher in Alvergne, and may have sought the patronage of the counts of Barcelona, Provence and Toulouse. His famous sirventes, Chantarai d’aquest trobadors (whose melody does not survive), satirizes several contemporaries, including Raimbaut d’Aurenga, Giraut de Bornelh and Bernart de Ventadorn. The song was once thought to have been composed in conjunction with the procession from Bordeaux to Tarazona in 1170 of Aliénor, daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, to marry Alfonso VIII of Castile, but that has been shown to be improbable. Peire composed about 24 poems, but only two survive with melodies (ed. in van der Werf): a tenso with Bernart de Ventadorn (PC 323.4; F-Pn fr. 844) and a canso, Dejosta·ls breus jorns e·ls loncs sers (PC 323.15; F-Pn fr.20050 and 22543). The latter is through-composed, and in its conservative texture and range it resembles the melodies of Bernart. The ...

Article

Elizabeth Aubrey

(fl 1162–73; d Cortezon). Troubadour. He was a lord of the town of Omelas, west of Montpellier. Through his father he was a vassal of the seigneurs of Montpellier; he also had connections, through his mother, with the lords of Baux. Raimbaut maintained a fairly lavish court at his castle at Cortezon (between Orange and Avignon in the marquisate of Provence), where he may have received Marcabru, Guiraut de Bornelh, and Peire d'Alvernhe, and a joglar named Levet who is mentioned in his poems and in his testament. His 40 surviving poems contain allusions to French literature, Ovid and rhetoric, with recondite versification schemes, a style known as trobar ric. Only one canso melody is extant, in the northern French source F-Pn fr.20050: Pos tals sabers mi sors e·m creis (PC 389.36; ed. in van der Werf and in Aubrey). It is essentially through-composed, but several phrases are repeated with variations, a common technique among the troubadours. It makes use of a three-note rising figure at the beginning of almost every phrase, similar to motivic treatments in music by his contemporaries....

Article

Theodore Karp

(fl 1230–50). French trouvère. Avion is in the environs of Arras, and Gaidifer, an ecclesiastic, was a member of the Artesian poetic circle. Since he appears as a respondent to Jehan Bretel in two jeux-partis, and as judge of Jehan de Grieviler and of Robert de Castel in other jeux-partis, and since Perrin d'Angicourt, Jehan le Cuvelier d'Arras and the banker Audefroi Louchart appear as judges in the former, Gaidifer was probably active towards the middle of the 13th century. Six of the seven chansons attributed to him are unica in the Rome Chansonnier ( I-Rvat Reg.lat.1490). His style is sharply circumscribed. All the poems are isometric, consisting of octosyllables or decasyllables; all except one contain only two rhymes per strophe and in five the pedes are followed by the rhyme pattern baab. The melodies are all in bar form. Only in Tant ai d'amours is there any repetition in the cauda. This is also the only melody cast in a mode with a minor 3rd above the final. The melodies, though simple, span between an octave and an 11th. In ...

Article

Theodore Karp

[Epinal]

(b before 1220; d before July 1272).French trouvère. He is generally assumed to have been a member of the family of the seigneurs of Epinal; identification has been based on this and on the dedication of Quant voi iver to the Count of Bar. A Gautier d'Espinal is mentioned in documents of 1232 to 1272. Some scholars feel, on the other hand, that the style of Gautier's works points to an author active earlier in the 13th century.

A few of the chansons attributable to Gautier survive in more than six sources, but several are in no more than three. The opening strophes of Aïmans fins and Desconfortés et de joie parti were quoted by Girart d'Amiens in his roman Méliacin. While the imagery of the poems remains wholly within the stock vocabulary of the chanson courtoise, Gautier handled his material with considerable skill. Most strophes contain the same number of syllables per line – generally ten, though sometimes seven or eight. ...

Article

Theodore Karp

( fl 1214–40). Provençal troubadour . Two works are ascribed to this poet, probably identifiable with Pons I d’Ortaffa (in the vicinity of Perpignan), who appears in documents of 1214 and 1240. Si ay perdut mon saber (PC 379.2; of contested authorship) survives with music. In bar form, the melody is interesting for the manner in which it develops in the cauda the opening motif of the second phrase....

Article

Ian R. Parker

[Uisel, Uissel]

(b c1170; d before 1225). Troubadour. He, his two brothers Eble and Peire and his cousin Elias were seigneurs of the fortress of Ussel-sur-Sarzonne (Corrèze). According to his vida, Gui renounced his seigneurie in exchange for canonries at Brioude (Haute-Loire) and Montferrand (now Clermont-Ferrand). The vida also states that he composed songs whereas Elias wrote tensos and Eble mala tensos on all of which Peire ‘descanted’. There is no evidence that this is a reference to polyphonic descanting; it seems rather to imply simply the art of melody writing. Gui is said to have obeyed an injunction from the papal legate ordering him to stop composing; this may have been in about 1209 (Audiau). His chanson Si be·m partetz was the basis for a strophic exchange by Peire, En Gui d'Uisel (PC 361.1), but no separate melody has survived. Gui is the only troubadour of the Ussel family whose melodies are extant. His attributed works include eight chansons, three pastourelles, seven ...

Article

(b Riberác, ?1150–60; d c1200). Troubadour. Famed as a master of the difficult style, or trobar ric, he brought the poetic style of the troubadours to new heights. His most notable admirers have included Dante, Petrarch, and, much later, Ezra Pound. In canto xxvi of the Purgatorio, Dante not only rated Arnaut higher than Giraut de Bornelh (known as the ‘maestre del trobadors’), but paid him a supreme compliment by rendering his speech in Old Provençal. What little is known of Arnaut's life has been derived from his vida, his razo and a few references scattered throughout his poems. The vida refers to him as a man of letters who later became a joglar, or entertainer. One of Arnaut's poems (PC 29.8) alludes to his presence at the coronation of the ‘king of Estampes’, probably that of Philippe II Auguste in 1179 or 1180 (see Gouiran). Dante made him a contemporary of Count Raymond Berenger of Provence (...