Guillaume Dufay  
Guillaume Dufay

Missa l'Homme Armé

Magnificat (1-2)

"Ave Maris Stella"

Missa ecce ancilla domini - Kyrie

Salve, flos Tuscae

Mon bien, m'amour et ma maistresse


Miniature from Le Champion des Dames, French, 15th century
Dufay, on the left, with a portative organ, and his fellow composer Gilles de Binchois (c. 1400-1460) with a harp, representing sacred and secular music.
1399 -1474
Dufay was the foremost Franco-Flemish composer of the fifteenth century. Born near Cambrai in northern France, he began his musical career as a choirboy in the city's cathedral. Here his musical gifts came to the attention of the bishop, who encouraged his development. He spent a large part of his adult years living and travelling in Europe, including a period between 1428 and 1436 as a singer in the Papal choir in Rome. Dufay became the leading composer of the culturally important Burgundian court, and his patrons extended to the highest levels of Church and State, including the powerful courts of France, the Netherlands, and Italy.
Dufay's development was, therefore, subject to several influences. His musical style grew out of a synthesis of the late-medieval French traditions (such as Ars Nova) and the early Renaissance styles that he absorbed from his travels in Italy. A further element derived from the influence of England's John Dunstable, who was present with Dufay at Burgundy. Dunstable emphasized a more natural, expressive sound in polyphony; this fresh approach coincided with the Humanist and Renaissance tendency towards the exploration of personal emotion.

Essentially, Dufay's good fortune was to be in the right place at the right time and to possess the talent to make the best of the situation; his position at the Burgundian court allowed him to use the best singers and instrumentalists available. Without being particularly innovative, his compositions were technically sophisticated as well as notably melodic. He wrote many of his works for the noble families of Europe, for whom he undertook commissions; these works often commemorated public or social events, or accompanied religious occasions.

Utilizing ideas promoted by other composers, Dufay established himself at the forefront of the changes taking place in church music. During his lifetime, the Mass assumed an increasing importance as the main form of sacred musical expression; and Dufay composed a number of complete polyphonic settings of the Mass, often merging secular with liturgical themes (as was becoming common in the fifteenth century).
He also wrote a substantial amount of purely secular music, particularly ron-deaux, which were smaller-scale, more intimate chansons than the ballades favoured by fourteenth-century tastes. Many of his rondeaux give clear indications of Dufay's ability to embrace new technical ideas — he uses dissonant sounds, for example, in Мои снег те fait on the recommended recording. His chansons also showed a new flexibility: this was due to the increased use of higher voices (pioneered in part by Machaut), which meant that composers could write for a wider vocal range. Often his music is suffused with emotions of love and tenderness, and would possibly have been accompanied by an instrument such as the medieval harp.

In 1436 Pope Eugene IV granted Dufay the canonicate to his home-town cathedral of Cambrai. He finally settled there around the year 1458, and remained until his death in 1474.

Painting by the Master of the St Lucy Legend, с 1485 Detail from Mary Queen of Heaven showing three medieval recorders, a harp, a dulcimer, and a lute.
Guillaume Dufay: Missa l'Homme Armé
L'Homme Arme was a monophonic melody with political and satirical strains. Dufay made one of the first versions of it in a polyphonic setting in his Missa L’Homme Arme. The beginning of the cycle is designed so that, in the absence of instrumental accompaniment, the cantus firmus is virtually indistinguishable until near the end of the Gloria. The tenor sings the cantus firmus, overlapped by the bass line and other voices that conceal the melody of L'Homme Arme. If this were played by instrumentalists, rather than vocalists, the tone quality of the varying instruments would serve to open up all the parts to the ear, thus illuminating the cantus firmus as well. This hidden quality of Missa L’Homme Arme suggests the playfulness of Dufay with his compositions.
Missa 'L'homme armé'
1 - Kyrie
2 - Gloria
3 - Credo
4 - Sanctus
5 - Agnus Dei

The Hilliard Ensemble
Paul Hillier

Guillaume Dufay: Magnificat (1-2)
Guillaume Dufay : "Ave Maris Stella"
Guillaume Dufay: Missa ecce ancilla domini - Kyrie
Dufay: Salve, flos Tuscae
Hail, Florence, flower
of Tuscany, we salute you;
hail, O rich mother,
who feeds so many learned
gives birth to so many
great in wisdom and faith,
so many who excel in righteousness,
so many who shine
in ecclesiastical grandeur.

Hail: each form of learning
owes a tribute to you,
everything concerning
talent and literature.
Hail: your fame
has spread all over the world,
you send out your sons
and take them to the stars.
Thus my song sounded,
thus our melodious voices
received acclaim,
without even trying
to fetch a prize or reward.
I never tire of composing
and we sing unflaggingly,
as long as you can live,
sung in my song!

And you, girls, glory of
Tuscany, we salute you!
We have in our blood,
no life without love!
In their portals they stand,
beautiful as nymphs,
elegant as naiads,
proud as amazons,
like Venus, with abundant suitors.
Each man fervently desires
to embrace and kiss them blissfully;
whoever sees them once, is
caught in the net of love.
This, you goddesses of the world,
was sung forever after
by me, Guillaume, your
servant, born Dufay!

Guillaume Dufay - Mon bien, m'amour et ma maistresse
Mon bien, m'amour et ma maistresse
Esse ce que m'avés promis?
Mis m'avés hors du sens rassis,
Six foys m'avés fait grande rudesse.

De ce vous requiers, ma princesse,
Cesser: a vous seray toudis.
Mon bien, m'amour et ma maistresse
Esse ce que m'avés promis?

Dix ans a que vostre noblesse
Blessié m'a au cuer et soupris;
Pris m'a trop fort a mon advis:
Advisez que j'aye lyesse.

Mon bien, m'amour et ma maistresse
Esse ce que m'avés promis?
Mis m'avés hors du sens rassis,
Six foys m'avés fait grande rudesse.

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