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Philippe de Vitry
 
 
 


Philippe de Vitry (31 October 1291 9 June 1361) was a French composer, music theorist and poet.

He was an accomplished, innovative, and influential composer, and may also have been the author of the Ars Nova treatise.

He was widely acknowledged as the greatest musician of his day, with Petrarch writing a glowing tribute, calling him:

"...the keenest and most ardent seeker of truth, so great a philosopher of our age."


Details of his early life are sketchy. While some medieval sources claim that he was born in the Champagne region, more recent research indicates that he may have originated in Vitry-en-Artois near Arras. Given that he is often referred to in documents as "Magister," he is thought likely to have studied at the University of Paris.

Later he was prominent in the courts of Charles IV, Philippe VI and Jean II, serving as a secretary and advisor; perhaps aided by these Bourbon connections, he also held several canonries, including Clermont, Beauvais and Paris, also serving for a time in the antipapal retinue at Avignon starting with Clement VI. In addition to all this, he was a diplomat and a soldier, known to have served at the siege of Aiguillon in 1346.

In 1351 he became Bishop of Meaux, east of Paris. Moving in all the most important political, artistic and ecclesiastical circles, he was acquainted with many lights of the age, including Petrarch and the famous mathematician, philosopher and music theorist Nicole Oresme. He died in Paris on 9 June 1361.

Works
Philippe de Vitry is most famous in music history for the Ars nova notandi (1322), a treatise on music attributed to him which lent its name to the music of the entire era. While his authorship and the very existence of this treatise have recently come into question, a handful of his musical works do survive and show the innovations in musical notation, particularly mensural and rhythmic, with which he was credited within a century of their inception. Such innovations as are exemplified in his stylistically-attributed motets for the Roman de Fauvel were particularly important, and made possible the free and quite complex music of the next hundred years, culminating in the Ars subtilior. In some ways the "modern" system of rhythmic notation began with the Ars Nova, during which music might be said to have "broken free" from the older idea of the rhythmic modes, patterns which were repeated without being individually notated.
The notational predecessors of modern time meters also originate in the Ars Nova. He is reputed to have written chansons and motets, but only some of the motets have survived. Each is strikingly individual, exploiting a unique structural idea. He is also often credited with developing the concept of isorhythm (an isorhythmic line consists of repeating patterns of rhythms and pitches, but the patterns overlap rather than correspond; e.g., a line of thirty consecutive notes might contain five repetitions of a six-note melody or six repetitions of a five-note rhythm). Five of his three-part motets have survived in the Roman de Fauvel; an additional nine can be found in the Ivrea Codex.

 
 
Philippe de Vitry
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sequentia - Philippe de Vitry: Motets and Chansons
 
 
 
 
 
 
Philippe De Vitry (1291-1361): Vos Qui Admiramini - Motet
 
Cantica Symphonia
Director: Giuseppe Maletto
 
 
 
 
 
Philippe de Vitry and the Ars Nova
 

The Orlando Consort.

1. Vos quid admiramini/Gratissima/Contratenor/Gaude gloriosa, motet
Philippe de Vitry

2 Se je chant
Anonymous, French

3 Apta caro/Flos/Alma redemptorisa mater, motet (possibly spurious)
Philippe de Vitry

4 Tribum Que Non Abhorruit / Quoniam Secta Latronum
Anonymous, French

5 O canenda/Rex quem/Contratenor/Rex regum, motet
Philippe de Vitry

6 Colla Iugo Subdere / Bona Condit
Anonymous, French

7 Petre clemens/Lugentium/Tenor, motet
Philippe de Vitry

8 Trahunt in Precipicia / Quasi Non Ministerium / Ve Qui Gregi
Anonymous, French

9 Almifonis/Rosa/Tenor, motet (possibly spurious)
Philippe de Vitry

10 Douce playsence / Garison selon nature
Anonymous, French

11 Tuba sacre fidei/In arboris/Virgo sum, motet
Philippe de Vitry

12 In Virtute / Decens Carmen
Anonymous, French

13 Impudenter circumivi / Virtutis laudabilis / Alma, motet
Philippe de Vitry

14 Aman Novi Probatur / Heu, Fortuna Subdola
Anonymous, French

15 Floret cum Vana Gloria / Florens Vigor
Anonymous, French

16 Firmissime Fidem / Adesto Sancta Trinitas
Anonymous, French

17 Flos ortus/Celsa cedrus/Tenor, motet (probably authentic)
Philippe de Vitry

18 Servant regem/O Philippe/Rex regum, motet (possibly spurious)
Philippe de Vitry

19 Cum statua/Hugo/Magister invidie, motet
Philippe de Vitry

 
 
 
 
 
 
Philippe de Vitry - In Arboris
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vos qui admiramini by Philippe de Vitry
 
Vos qui admiramini by Philippe de Vitry performed live in concert by Lumina Vocal Ensemble, Director Anna Pope.
Not only a great medieval love song, this also displays intense religious fervour. It demonstrates the close link between religious and secular love during the medieval period, and in particular the adoration of the Virgin Mary.
Recorded during 'A Mediaeval Celebration' in the 2011 Adelaide Fringe Festival by Rosemary Beal, 5MBS at Barr Smith Library, University of Adelaide, South Australia.
Singers: Rachel Sag, Raphaela Mazzone, Beth Christian, Anna Pope, Kate Tretheway, Melinda Pike, Fiona O'Connor, Rosemary Byron-Scott, Tim Muecke, Bernard Mageean, Evan Sanders, Clive Conway, Kenneth Pope & Andrew McCauley. Film by Anna Pope.
 
 
 
 
 
 
     
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