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Guillaume Bouzignac


Born: 1587; Saint-Nazaire-d'Aude, France   Died: 1641  
Guillaume Bouzignac is generally regarded as the most important French composer of sacred music from his time. He introduced Italian and Spanish elements into his style, thus enlivening the entire body of French sacred music, which had grown static owing to its provincial mindset and lack of innovation.

Bouzignac was most likely born in 1587, probably in Saint-Nazaire-d'Aude, where his well-to-do family had lived for at least two
Read more generations. He studied in Norbonne, at the St. Juste Cathedral, where he also served an apprenticeship. His first major composition, the motet O mors, ero mors tua, dates to his "graduation" year of 1604.

At this time Bouzignac was granted a benefice by the Cathedral, an indication he had been promoted to assistant master there. The young composer, driven by debt, left Norbonne to serve briefly under the provost in Angoulęme. He then took a post at the local Cathedral as assistant master and chorister.

He returned to Nazaire-d'Aude in 1608, but within a year accepted a post at St. André's Church in Grenoble as master of music. His next activities are unclear: Bouzignac remained in Grenoble only three months and seems to have lived the next 15 years largely outside of France.

It is surmised that he may have spent a good deal of time in Italy, and perhaps in Spain, as well. Such visits would explain the Italian and Spanish stylistic features that had crept into his music. In 1624 Bouzignac returned to France and, in Bourges, was ordained a priest and taken on as master of music at the Cathedral. The following year he spent some time in Paris and in 1628 may have made a trip to the Atlantic coast.

From 1629 to 1632 he served as master of music in Rodez, at the Notre Cathedral. For the next decade or so his activities are not known, though by 1643 he would secure the post of master of the children's choir at the Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral, as documentary evidence confirms. It seems that Bouzignac spent the summer of 1641, though, in Tours for religious celebrations held there. Several of his compositions (Praesulum chorus, Gloriosa dicta sunt de te, ecclesia Turonensis, etc.) make reference in their texts to the Tours' events. Bouzignac's activities become unclear once more from 1643 onward, but probably because he died that year or a short while later. Read less

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