Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1371)


Undoubtly, this composer, in the Middle Ages, is the one which perhaps deserves a place of major regard as to inventivity, geniousity,  inivation and versatility: he stands as a turnpoint in the History of Music, as with him (not forgueting Binchois and Dunstable) a new stream in music is born, the "Ars Nova" (or "New Art"), which stood out as a compleat outbreack with all  the major rulles of musical composition in the Middle Ages, espetially with the introduction of several simultaneous voices in "poliphony" in arragements never tried before. And that because untill then, certain chords as 3ths and 7ths were frorbidden in church music, as they were considered impure, and church music should be a symbol of the purity of God and of His creation.

Machaut was born in Rheims, arround 1300, and probably studied in Paris,already at the time a center of inovative theories and musical practices. In 1335 a papal indulgence declares that this composer would have been, at the time, "clericus elimosinarus" for twelve years, secretary to John of Luxembourg, king of Bohemia, and been all trough Europe acomanying him in his expeditions. Yet, five years later, in 1340, Machaut abandons this position to dedicate himself exclusilly to literary and musical creation.

Among his compositions, the "Messe de Nostre Dame" and  the "Reméde de Fortune" , representing each one a specific gendre of the time: the "Messe de Nostre Dame" is a fine example of the new poliphnic mass, of a melodic and harmonic richness in all aspects outstanding, and the "Reméde de Fortune" stands as a primorous example of the courtlly tradition of song composition, so widespread in France and all trough the mediterranean, yet in a style very carachteristic of Machaut.


Reccomended Recordings:

"Messe de Nostre Dame": "Ensemble Organum", Harmonia Mundi France, "Ensemble Dufay", Erato, and "Taverner Choir and Consort", EMI. "Rémede de Fortune", "Ensemble Guillaume de Machaut",Adès.