The Foremost Composer Of Fourteenth-Century France Was “Guillaume de Machaut”, born in Machault, around 1300 and died in Reims in 1377, is the most famous French composer and writer of the fourteenth century.

He led a life in the secular world, in the service of patrons and in close ties with the King of France, and an ecclesiastical life as the archbishop of Reims. A literate scholar and master of the arts, he has marked European artistic production for at least a century.

The Foremost Composer Of Fourteenth-Century France Was Guillaume De Machaut

The Foremost Composer Of Fourteenth-Century France Was Guillaume De Machaut

In 1324, he composed his first work, the motet Bone Pastor Guillerme dedicated to the new archbishop of Reims Guillaume de Trie.

He was employed as secretary from 1323 to 1346 by John I of Bohemia, with whom he acquired the love of falconry, chivalry, and adventures. He accompanied John I in his various journeys (mainly military expeditions) through Europe (especially to Prague), participating in the campaigns of Silesia, Poland (1327) 2, Lithuania (1329) and Italy (1330). )

These various journeys are recounted in his works The Comfort of Friend and The Taking of Alexandria. Machaut speaks of John of Bohemia as an ideal king: a courageous and generous man.

Thanks to his protector, he successively obtained canonical prebends at Verdun in 1330, Arras in 1332, Reims in 13333 and Saint Quentin.


 Guillaume de Machaut Music and Most Famous Compositions

Music and poetry were intimately linked in the composer. His operatic work includes nearly 400 poems whose writing preceded the composition. He was the most important figure of Ars nova, who introduced polyphonic writing into musical art.

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Although his poetry is less well known, he was nevertheless considered The Foremost Composer Of Fourteenth-Century France. Being both a palace poet and individual poet, private individual who writes masterpieces of courtly poetry like The Book of Sitting says.

In the year 1330, he became a canon at Reims Cathedral, which gave him great freedom to compose. Emerging from the monody of the troubadours to go towards polyphony, enlarging the plainchant whose motifs he developed and diversified, Machaut wrote complex motets of great worth.

Guillaume de Machaut Songs

His stunning Mass of Our Lady, one of the first to be created by a single composer, brought to the genre a masterful artistic dimension, including the sophistication of his polyrhythmic writing that gave birth to the poetry of great purity.

The subtle arrangements of Machaut still bear the trace of timeless modernity whose originality was greeted several times by Pierre Boulez just before his death.

He contributed to the development of orchestral music in his rondeaux, ballads, and motets. His famous Mass of Our Lady in five parts, composed between 1360 and 1365, is considered, in the current state of knowledge, as the first complete choral mass written by a single author.

His isorhythmic motets with 3 or 4 voices illustrate the rhythmic innovations of the Ars Nova, made possible by the evolution of musical notation.

In technical terms, Machaut was a master of elaborate rhythmic patterns. In this, he is a forerunner of the “great rhetoricians” of the fifteenth century. From a musical point of view, he also masters the rhythmic (in) complex modes.

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Guillaume de Machaut

For F. Autrand, Guillaume de Machaut, poet, brought to his summits the so-called “courteous international” style. His narrative work is dominated by the so-called poem, which, as the name suggests, was not meant to be sung.

These narrative poems all written in octosyllabic couplets with flat rhymes, like the novel of the same period generally follow the conventions of the Roman de la Rose, such as the use of the dream, characters allegorical, and the situation of the narrator: a lover seeking to return to his lady or to satisfy her.

Machaut is also the author of a poetic chronicle of warlike exploits (the Capture of Alexandria) and poems of consolation and moral philosophy.

At the end of his life, Machaut wrote a poetic treatise on his profession (his Prologue) which gives a posteriori unity to the whole of his lyric work.

Machaut’s poetry has directly influenced many writers, such as Eustache Deschamps, Jean Froissart, Christine de Pizan, Rene I of Naples and Geoffrey Chaucer. He acts as an intermediary between his century and the next century by his modernity and his concern for technical precision.