The testament of Jean de Saint Gille († 1501)

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Among the numerous testaments of fifteenth-century canons and chaplains at Rouen Cathedral (a collection now kept in boxes at the Archives départementales de la Seine-Maritime) there is one that has special claims to our interest. It is the last will of a church musician, Jean de Saint Gille (d.1501), it is written entirely in rhymed French verse, and the author reveals that he had composed a Mass in polyphony that he wanted to be sung in his own commemoration after his death. The last of these points parallels a similar clause in Guillaume Dufay's testament. As well known, Dufay's three-voice Requiem, now lost, appears to have been composed specifically for the composer's own commemoration at Cambrai Cathedral. What does it tell us about Jean de Saint Gille that he wrote his testament in rhymed French verse? How should we read his text? And most intriguingly, what kind of man was he? Here, the richly-detailed chapter acts of Rouen Cathedral come to our help. They not only record several curious incidents in the life of this forgotten composer, but tell us about numerous other musicians active at the cathedral in the late 15th century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-36
Number of pages30
JournalRevue de Musicologie
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Music


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