Antoine Brumel

Antoine Brumel

Overview
Antoine Brumel was a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 composer. He was one of the first renowned French members of the Franco-Flemish
Franco-Flemish School
In music, the Franco-Flemish School or more precisely the Netherlandish School refers, somewhat imprecisely, to the style of polyphonic vocal music composition in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, and to the composers who wrote it...

 school of the Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

, and, after Josquin des Prez
Josquin Des Prez
Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] , often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance...

, was one of the most influential composers of his generation.

Little is known about his early life, but he was probably born west of Chartres
Chartres
Chartres is a commune and capital of the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France. It is located southwest of Paris.-Geography:Chartres is built on the left bank of the Eure River, on a hill crowned by its famous cathedral, the spires of which are a landmark in the surrounding country...

, perhaps in the town of Brunelles
Brunelles
Brunelles is a commune in the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France.-Population:-References:*...

, near to Nogent-le-Rotrou
Nogent-le-Rotrou
Nogent-le-Rotrou is a commune in the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France.It is a sub-prefecture and is located on the Huisne River, 56 kilometres west of Chartres on the RN23 and 150 kilometres south west of Paris, to which it is linked by both rail and motorway...

, making him one of the first of the Netherlandish composers who was actually French.
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Antoine Brumel was a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 composer. He was one of the first renowned French members of the Franco-Flemish
Franco-Flemish School
In music, the Franco-Flemish School or more precisely the Netherlandish School refers, somewhat imprecisely, to the style of polyphonic vocal music composition in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, and to the composers who wrote it...

 school of the Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

, and, after Josquin des Prez
Josquin Des Prez
Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] , often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance...

, was one of the most influential composers of his generation.

Life


Little is known about his early life, but he was probably born west of Chartres
Chartres
Chartres is a commune and capital of the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France. It is located southwest of Paris.-Geography:Chartres is built on the left bank of the Eure River, on a hill crowned by its famous cathedral, the spires of which are a landmark in the surrounding country...

, perhaps in the town of Brunelles
Brunelles
Brunelles is a commune in the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France.-Population:-References:*...

, near to Nogent-le-Rotrou
Nogent-le-Rotrou
Nogent-le-Rotrou is a commune in the Eure-et-Loir department in northern France.It is a sub-prefecture and is located on the Huisne River, 56 kilometres west of Chartres on the RN23 and 150 kilometres south west of Paris, to which it is linked by both rail and motorway...

, making him one of the first of the Netherlandish composers who was actually French. He sang at Notre-Dame de Chartres from 9 August 1483 until 1486, and subsequently held posts at St Peter's in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 (until 1492) and Laon
Laon
Laon is the capital city of the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France.-History:The hilly district of Laon, which rises a hundred metres above the otherwise flat Picardy plain, has always held strategic importance...

 (around 1497) before becoming choirmaster to the boys at Notre-Dame de Paris from 1498 to 1500, and choirmaster to Alfonso I d'Este
Alfonso I d'Este
Alfonso d'Este was Duke of Ferrara during the time of the War of the League of Cambrai.-Biography:He was the son of Ercole I d'Este and Leonora of Naples....

 at Ferrara
Ferrara
Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north...

 from 1506, replacing the famous composer Jacob Obrecht
Jacob Obrecht
Jacob Obrecht was a Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was the most famous composer of masses in Europe in the late 15th century, being eclipsed by only Josquin des Prez after his death.-Life:...

 who had died of the plague there the previous year. The chapel there was disbanded in 1510, after which he evidently stayed in Italy; several documents connect him with churches in Faenza
Faenza
Faenza is an Italian city and comune, in the province of Ravenna, Emilia-Romagna, situated 50 km southeast of Bologna.Faenza is noted for its manufacture of majolica ware glazed earthenware pottery, known from the name of the town as "faience"....

 and Mantua
Mantua
Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole...

, where he probably died in 1512 or shortly after. He is known to have written at least one work after his dismissal from Ferrara (the Missa de beata virgine), and he may have still have been alive in 1513 since there is a mention in a treatise of Vincenzo Galilei
Vincenzo Galilei
Vincenzo Galilei was an Italian lutenist, composer, and music theorist, and the father of the famous astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei and of the lute virtuoso and composer Michelagnolo Galilei...

 that Brumel was one of a group of composers who met with Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X , born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 Theses...

 in that year; however since Vincenzo was writing more than a generation later and reporting second-hand, and no other corroborating evidence has been found, this account is not considered to be certain. Then again, Heinrich Glarean
Heinrich Glarean
Heinrich Glarean was a Swiss music theorist, poet and humanist. He was born in Mollis and died in Freiburg....

us, writing later about Brumel, indicated that he lived to a "ripe old age", so it remains possible that he lived longer, but records have not survived.

A Jachet Brumel was organist for the Ferrara court in 1543, and is presumed to be Antoine's son.

Music


Brumel was at the center of the changes that were taking place in European music around 1500, in which the previous style of highly differentiated voice parts, composed one after another, was giving way to smoothly flowing, equal parts, composed simultaneously. These changes can be seen in his music, with some of his earlier work conforming to the older style, and his later compositions showing the polyphonic fluidity which became the stylistic norm of the Josquin generation.

Masses


Brumel is best known for his masses
Mass (music)
The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music...

, the most famous of which is the twelve-voice Missa Et ecce terræ motus. Techniques of composition varied throughout his life: he sometimes used the cantus firmus
Cantus firmus
In music, a cantus firmus is a pre-existing melody forming the basis of a polyphonic composition.The plural of this Latin term is , though the corrupt form canti firmi is also attested...

 technique, already archaic by the end of the 15th century, and also the paraphrase
Paraphrase mass
A paraphrase mass is a musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass, using as its basis an elaborated version of a cantus firmus, typically chosen from plainsong or some other sacred source...

 technique, in which the source material appears elaborated, and in other voices than the tenor, often in imitation. He used paired imitation, like Josquin, but often in a freer manner than the more famous composer. A relatively unusual technique he used in an untitled mass was to use different source material for each of the sections (mass titles are taken from the pre-existing composition used as their basis: usually a plainchant, motet
Motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

 or chanson
Chanson
A chanson is in general any lyric-driven French song, usually polyphonic and secular. A singer specialising in chansons is known as a "chanteur" or "chanteuse" ; a collection of chansons, especially from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, is also known as a chansonnier.-Chanson de geste:The...

: hence the mass is without title). Brumel wrote a Missa l'homme armé
L'homme armé
L'homme armé was a French secular song from the time of the Renaissance. It was the most popular tune used for musical settings of the Ordinary of the Mass: over 40 separate compositions entitled Missa L'homme armé survive from the period....

, as did so many other composers of the Renaissance: appropriately, he set it as a cantus firmus mass, with the popular song in long notes in the tenor, to make it easier to hear. All of his masses, with the exception of the highly unusual 12-voice Missa Et ecce terræ motus, are for four voices.

During the 16th century the most famous of Brumel's masses was his Missa de beata virgine, a paraphrase mass
Paraphrase mass
A paraphrase mass is a musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass, using as its basis an elaborated version of a cantus firmus, typically chosen from plainsong or some other sacred source...

 using elaborations of various plainchant melodies. According to Heinrich Glarean, writing in 1547, it was written in competition with Josquin, who simultaneously wrote his own Missa de Beata Virgine, and the two works are similar in style.

Motets, chansons, and instrumental music


Brumel also wrote numerous motets, chansons, and some instrumental music. His style in these also evolved throughout his life, with his earlier works showing the irregular lines and rhythmic complexity of the Ockeghem
Johannes Ockeghem
Johannes Ockeghem was the most famous composer of the Franco-Flemish School in the last half of the 15th century, and is often considered the most...

 generation, while the later ones used the smooth imitative polyphony of the Josquin
Josquin Des Prez
Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] , often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance...

 style as well as the homophonic textures of the current Italian composers of popular songs (for example Tromboncino
Bartolomeo Tromboncino
Bartolomeo Tromboncino was an Italian composer of the middle Renaissance. He is mainly famous as a composer of frottola; he is principally infamous for murdering his wife...

, who was in Ferrara at the same time as Brumel). One peculiar feature of Brumel's style is that sometimes he uses very quick syllabic declamation in chordal
Chord (music)
A chord in music is any harmonic set of two–three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously. These need not actually be played together: arpeggios and broken chords may for many practical and theoretical purposes be understood as chords...

 writing, anticipating the madrigalian
Madrigal (music)
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

 fashion of later in the 16th century. This appears sometimes in the "Credo" sections of his masses – logically, since that section has the longest text, and if set similarly to the other sections to the mass, it can be disproportionately long.

Brumel's Missa pro defunctis for four voices, a late work, is notable for being the first Requiem
Requiem
A Requiem or Requiem Mass, also known as Mass for the dead or Mass of the dead , is a Mass celebrated for the repose of the soul or souls of one or more deceased persons, using a particular form of the Roman Missal...

 to include a polyphonic
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 setting of the Dies Iræ. In addition, it is one of the earliest surviving Requiems: only Ockeghem
Johannes Ockeghem
Johannes Ockeghem was the most famous composer of the Franco-Flemish School in the last half of the 15th century, and is often considered the most...

's is earlier.

After Josquin des Prez, Brumel is considered one of the greatest composers of his generation. During his life, Ottaviano Petrucci
Ottaviano Petrucci
Ottaviano Petrucci was an Italian printer. His Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, a collection of chansons printed in 1501, is commonly misidentified as the first book of sheet music printed from movable type. Actually that distinction belongs to the Roman printer Ulrich Han's Missale Romanum of 1476...

 published a book of his masses, and a number of other composers wrote pieces commemorating him after his death. His impressive 12-voice Missa et ecce terræ motus survives from a part-book in Munich of 1570, long after his death, evidently used for performances by Lassus.

Selected discography

  • Brumel's Missa Et ecce terræ motus ("Earthquake" Mass) performed by the Huelgas Ensemble
    Huelgas Ensemble
    The Huelgas Ensemble is a Belgian early music group formed by the Flemish conductor Paul Van Nevel in 1971. The group's performance and extensive discography focuses on renaissance polyphony...

     directed by Paul Van Nevel
    Paul Van Nevel
    Paul Van Nevel is a Belgian conductor, musicologist and art historian. In 1971 he founded the Huelgas Ensemble, a choir dedicated to polyphony from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Van Nevel is known for hunting out little known polyphonic medieval works to perform.He grew up in a musical...

     (Sony Vivarte 46348). Premier recording; "Continental" sound.
  • Brumel's Missa Et ecce terræ motus ("Earthquake" Mass) and Lamentations performed by the Tallis Scholars
    Tallis Scholars
    The Tallis Scholars are a British vocal ensemble normally consisting of two singers per part, with a core group of ten singers.Formed in 1973 by their director Peter Phillips, they specialise in performing a cappella sacred vocal music written during the Renaissance by composers from all over Europe...

     under the direction of Peter Phillips (Gimell 26). "British" sound.
  • Brumel's Missa Et ecce terræ motus ("Earthquake" Mass) performed by the Ensemble Clément Janequin and Les Sacqueboutiers de Toulouse directed by Dominique Visse (Harmonia Mundi 901738). Performed with instruments doubling voices.
  • Brumel's Missa pro defunctis (together with La Rue's Missa pro defunctis) performed by The Clerks' Group directed by Edward Wickham (ASV CDGAU352)
  • 2005 – Dulcis Melancholia. Biographie musicale de Marguerite d’Autriche. Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca is a vocal and instrumental early music consort based in Leuven, Belgium. The group specialises in 14th to 16th Century music from Flanders and takes its name from the choir of the court chapel of Emperor Charles V...

    . MEW 0525. Contains a recording of Tous les regretz by Antoine Brumel.
  • Brumel's Lamentations performed by 'i buoni antichi' (The Gentlemen of St John's, College Cambridge and singers from Choralen van de Grote Kerk Breda); Directed by James Burton. 'O Bone Jesu' LBCD 86.

Example



External links