Du Fay [Dufay; Du Fayt], Guillaume
- Alejandro Enrique Planchart
(b Beersel, Aug 5, 1397; d Cambrai, Nov 27, 1474). French composer and theorist. He was acknowledged by his contemporaries as the leading composer of his day. He held positions in many of the musical centres of Europe and his music was copied and performed virtually everywhere that polyphony was practised.
According to the executors of Du Fay’s will, his ‘homeland’ was the town of Bersele [Beersel] near Brussels. His date of birth has been postulated by Planchart (EMH, 1988; 1995) as 5 August 1397; this date is based on the year of his ordination (late 1427) and his years as a chorister at Cambrai Cathedral (1409–12), and events connected with the establishment of his obit. His original patronymic was Du Fayt; he apparently altered the spelling to Du Fay during his years in Italy. The family name (Du Fay as well as Du Fayt), universally spelt as two words in all 14th- and 15th-century documents traceable directly to bearers of the name, was not common in Cambrai: the largest concentration is found in documents from the area of Valenciennes. Du Fay was born the illegitimate son of a single woman, Marie Du Fayt, and a priest whose name has not come down to us....