Claude Le Jeune
Claude Le Jeune
Claude Le Jeune (1528 to 1530 – buried September 26, 1600) was a French composer of the late Renaissance. He was the primary representative of the musical movement known as musique mesurée, and a significant composer of the "Parisian" chanson, the predominant secular form in France in the latter half of the 16th century. His fame was widespread in Europe, and he ranks as one of the most influential composers of the time.
He was born at Valenciennes, where he probably received his early musical training. Sometime fairly early in life he became a Protestant. The first record of his musical activity is from 1552, when four chansons attributed to him were published at Louvain, in a collection of works by several composers. In 1564 he moved to Paris. By this time he had already acquired some international fame, as evidenced by the appearance of his name in a list of "contemporary composers of excellence" in a manuscript copy of the Penitential Psalms of Orlande de Lassus, which were probably composed in the 1560s in Munich. Lassus may have met Le Jeune in the mid 1550s during a trip to France; however this has not been definitely established.
In 1570 Le Jeune began his association with the Academie de musique et de poésie, headed by Jean-Antoine de Baïf, an association which was to be decisive both on Le Jeune's music and on the direction taken by the Academie. That Baïf was a Catholic, who even wrote a sonnet extravagantly praising the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572 (in which approximately 70,000 Protestants were murdered) appears not to have dissuaded Le Jeune from working with him, and Le Jeune continued to set his poetry, and follow the ideals of the Academie, into the 1580s.
Unfortunately, Le Jeune was found out to be the author of an anti-Catholic tract in 1589, and was forced to flee Paris during the siege that year: only the intervention of his friend, the composer Jacques Mauduit, at the city's St. Denis gate saved his life and prevented the destruction of the manuscripts he carried with him (according to Marin Mersenne, who wrote extensively about both composers in his Harmonie universelle of 1637). Other Huguenot composers were not so fortunate. Claude Goudimel, a very similar composer who Le Jeune may have known, was murdered by a Catholic mob in Lyons during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in late August 1572.
Next Le Jeune settled in La Rochelle, a stronghold of the Huguenots, but sometime in the mid-1590s he must have returned to Paris, for his name appears in a list of musicians of the royal household of Henry IV both in 1596 and 1600. Few other details from late in his life are known, but he must have been composing prolifically, judging by the enormous quantity of music which remained in manuscript at his death, most of which was published in the first two decades of the 17th century. He died in Paris, and is buried in the Protestant cemetery of La Trinité.
Music and influence
Le Jeune was the most famous composer of secular music in France in the late 16th century, particularly of the chanson. After 1570, most of the chansons he wrote incorporated the ideas of musique mesurée, the musical analogue to the poetic movement known as vers mesurée, in which the music reflected the exact stress accents of the French language. In musique mesurée, stressed versus unstressed syllables in the text would be set in a musical ratio of 2:1, i.e. a stressed syllable could get a quarter note while an unstressed syllable could get an eighth note. Since the meter of the verse was usually flexible, the result was a musical style which is best transcribed without meter, and which sounds to the modern ear to have rapidly changing meters, for example alternating 2/8, 3/8, etc.
In opposition to the chanson style of the Netherlands composers writing at the same time, Le Jeune's "Parisian" chansons in musique mesurée were light and homophonic in texture. They were sung a cappella, and were usually from three to seven voices, though sometimes he wrote for as many as eight. Probably his most famous secular work is his collection of 33 airs mesurés and 6 chansons, all to poems by Baïf, entitled Le printemps.
Probably his most famous sacred work is his Dodécacorde, a series of 12 psalm settings which he published in La Rochelle in 1598. Each of the psalms is set in a different one of the 12 modes as given by Zarlino. Some of his psalm settings are for large forces: for example he uses 16 voices in his setting of Psalm 52. Published posthumously was a collection of all 150 psalms, Les 150 pseaumes, for 4 and 5 voices; some of these were extremely popular, and were reprinted in several European countries throughout the 17th century.
Of Le Jeune's sacred music, a total of 347 psalm settings, 38 sacred chansons, 11 motets, and a mass setting have survived. His secular output included 146 airs, most of which were in the style of musique mesurée, as well as 66 chansons, and 43 Italian madrigals. In addition, three instrumental fantasias were published posthumously in 1612, as well as some works for lute. He was fortunate in that his copious manuscripts were published after his death: his friend, the equally gifted and prolific composer Jacques Mauduit, was fated to have most of his music lost.
Contemporary critics accused Le Jeune of violating some of the rules of good melodic writing and counterpoint, for example using melodic major sixths (something Palestrina would never have done), and frequently crossing voices; some of these compositional devices were to become features of the Baroque style, premonitions of which were beginning to appear even in France towards the end of the 16th century.
References and further reading
Paul-André Gaillard, Frank Dobbins: "Claude Le Jeune", in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1561591742
Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0393095304
Claude Le Jeune
(1528/30 - 1600)
French composer. Connected with Huguenot circles in Paris in the 1560s; master of the children at the court of François d'Anjou in 1582, and by 1596 had been raised to the position of royal chamber composer. He was the main writer of chansons in musique mesurée according to the poet Baïf's theories, and was second only to Goudimel as a composer of vernacular psalm collections
Hercule François, Duke of Anjou and Alençon, (March 18, 1555 - June 19, 1584) was the youngest son of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici.
An attractive child, he was unfortunately scarred by smallpox at age eight, and his pitted face and slightly deformed spine did not suit his august birth name of Hercules. He changed his name to François in honour of his brother François II of France when he was confirmed.
In 1574, following the death of his brother Charles IX of France and the accession of his other brother Henry III of France, he became heir to the throne. In 1576 he was made Duke of Anjou in succession to his brother Henry.
In 1576 he negotiated the Peace of Beaulieu during the French Wars of Religion. In 1579 he was invited by William the Silent to become hereditary sovereign to the United Provinces. On 29 September 1580, the Dutch Staten Generaal (with the exception of Zeeland and Holland) signed the Treaty of Plessis-les-Tours with the Duke, who would assume the title "Protector of the Liberty of the Netherlands" and become the sovereign. At the same time, in 1581, arrangements began to be made for his marriage to Elizabeth I of England. His abortive visit to Elizabeth delayed his arrival in the Nethrlands; he did not arrive until 10 February 1582, when he was officially welcomed by William in Flushing.
Anjou was not very popular with the Dutch, who continued to see the Catholic French as enemies; the provinces of Zeeland and Holland refused to recognise him as their sovereign, and William was widely critised for his "French politics". When Anjou's French troops arrived in late 1582, William's plan seemed to pay off, as even the Duke of Parma feared that the Dutch would now gain the upper hand.
However, the Duke of Anjou himself was dissatisfied with his limited power, and decided to take the city of Antwerp by force on January 18, 1583. The citizens defended their city in what is known as the "French Fury". The position of Anjou after this attack became impossible to hold, and he eventually left the country in June. His leave also discredited William, who nevertheless maintained his support for Anjou.
Anjou's premature death meant that the Huguenot Henry of Navarre became heir-presumptive, thus leading to an escalation in the Wars of Religion.