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date: 21 November 2019

Binchois [Binchoys], Gilles de Bins [Binch, Binche] ditlocked

  • David Fallows


(b ?Mons, c1400; d Soignies, Sept 20, 1460). Franco-Flemish composer. He is one of the three major musical figures from the first half of the 15th century. Modern critics normally rank him behind his contemporaries Du Fay and Dunstaple, for he had none of the legendary influence attributed to Dunstaple and far less music than Du Fay. But the extent to which his works were borrowed, cited, parodied and intabulated in the later 15th century implies that he had more direct influence than either. His composing career was shorter than Du Fay’s; but in the musical sources of the 1420s and 1430s his work is more often recopied than that of Du Fay – a notable detail, considering that these sources are mainly from northern Italy, where Du Fay was living, whereas Binchois was in far-away Flanders. He was the only one of the three composers to have had any significant connection with the Burgundian court in the ‘Burgundian era’. The years he spent there resulted in a body of work whose consistency of style lends meaning to the concept of a Burgundian tradition in music. All ascriptions for his music read simply ‘Binchois’ or ‘Binchoys’, and archival references tend to use that or the forms ‘Gilles de Bins’ or ‘Gilles de Bins dit Binchois’ (with varying orthographies); evidently, then, his professional name or sobriquet was simply Binchois, his personal name was Gilles de Bins, and the conflated form ‘Gilles Binchois’ is a misnomer (though he does appear in the much later theorist Tinctoris twice as ‘Egidius Binchois’)....

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