Gilles de Binchois : born 1400 – dies 20 September 1460

Gilles Binchois1

Binchois was a contemporary of Guilliame Dufay, and the leading composer at the court of Burgundy during the middle third of the fifteenth century. Binchois is remembered primarily for his secular chansons, for which composition he was known during his lifetime as at least the equal of Dufay.  (Classical.net)

In both his sacred and secular music, Binchois cultivated the gently subtle rhythm, the suavely graceful melody, and the smooth treatment of dissonance of his English contemporaries. The lyrics to many of his songs were poems by many of the best-known poets of the day, including Charles, duc d’Orléans, andChristine de Pisan. His music, especially that of his chansons, was widely known and has been shown to be the basis of works by other composers. A landmark 1957 edition of Binchois’s secular music (since amended) was edited by Wolfgang Rehm, and The Sacred Music of Gilles Binchois, edited by Philip Kaye, was published in 1992.  (Encyclopædia Britannica)

Gilles Binchois2From c.1419 through 1423 he was organist at Ste. Waudru, Mons; later he was in the service of the Duke of Suffolk in Paris (1424/5) and may have traveled with him to England. From some time before 1431 through 1453 he was chaplain at the Court of Burgundy. He was also a canon at a church in Mons together with Dufay, whom he undoubtedly came to know in middle life.

Binchois is known to have written some twenty-eight Mass sections, four Magnificats, some thirty motets and hymn settings and around 55 chansons. His chansons are particularly remarkable, and he ranks with Dufay as a major exponent of the form. Many of them have a rather sad, nostalgic quality, the texts treating of unrequited love in the somewhat stilted manner of the courtly tradition. Often highly formal, he nevertheless often achieves a noteworthy depth of feeling.  (Choral Wiki)

Binchois is often considered to be the finest melodist of the 15th century, writing carefully shaped lines which are not only easy to sing but utterly memorable. His tunes appeared in copies decades after his death, and were often used as sources for Mass composition by later composers. Most of his music, even his sacred music, is simple and clear in outline, sometimes even ascetic; a greater contrast between Binchois and the extreme complexity of the ars subtilior of the prior (fourteenth) century would be hard to imagine. Most of his secular songs are rondeaux, which became the most common song form during the century. He rarely wrote in strophic form, and his melodies are generally independent of the rhyme scheme of the verses they are set to. Binchois wrote music for the court, secular songs of love and chivalry that met the expectations and satisfied the taste of the Dukes of Burgundy who employed him, and evidently loved his music accordingly. About half of his extant secular music is found in the manuscript Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Canon. misc. 213.  (Wikipedia)

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