Jean Richafort


Born: 1480   Died: 1547; Bruges, Belgium  
Composer Jean Richafort seems to have been born in the Hainaut province of what is now Belgium. Later on, he took his clerical orders near Liège. By December 1507, he had been named maistre de chant at the collegiate church of St. Rombout, Mechelen. While he was maistre, two of Richafort's brothers, Guillaume and François, were members of the choir. For the next ten years after his departure, sometime around August 21, 1509, when Noel Bauldeweyn Read more stepped in to succeed him, he is somewhat lost to sight. No court records contain his name during that time, but his motet Cosolator captivorum suggests that he'd built some strong ties with the French court by then. The text is an entreaty to St. Louis to use his influence to help strengthen Louis XII's rule. In 1512, supplications were for benefices on behalf of three musicians, one of whom was Richafort. Since the other two, Gilles Charpentier and Jean Nolin, are known to have been in the service of Anne of Britany at the time, it is assumed that Richafort was as well. A dispensation written on January 30, 1516, in Bologna said he received the said benefices. In that document, he is referred to as the "rector of the parish church of Touches in the dioces of Nantes" and as a singer in the chapel of François I. The Pope's visitation to François' court in 1515 - 1516 was a windfall for a number of musicians there, including Richafort, who were granted dispensations that allowed them to hold incompatible benefices. Richafort seems to have been present as a member of the French royal in Rome at the time of Pope Leo's election, in 1513; presumably, it was then that Richafort impressed the Pope with his abilities. Richafort slips below the radar between the years of 1516 - 1542. No available source contains his name until July 1542, at which time he succeeded Jean Claes as the maistre de chapelle at the cathedral of St. Gilles, in Bruges. In 1548, Richafort's position at St. Gilles is taken over by Jean Bart, after which time his name disappears from all records. It's usually assumed that he died in Bruges around that time. Richafort's music shows the very strong influence of Josquin, and he's generally understood as one of those who continued to explore the territory opened up by the great composer. A considerable amount of music survives by him, including chansons in many styles, motets, various sacred works, and three masses. As with Josquin, Richafort's motets are the cornerstone of his achievement that best reveal his studied talents. His most famous piece was probably the motet Quem dicunt homines. It was honored by numerous important composers who chose it as the basis of parody masses. Among these are Divitis, Mouton, Morales, and Palestrina. Two of the masses on Quem dicunt homines, those of Divitis and Mouton, are historically important for being among the very first works to use the full-blown parody techniques that would become important in the sixteenth century. A book of Richafort's motets was published in 1556 presumably after his death, while the rest that survives has been culled from various manuscripts scattered about the continent. Read less

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