Pierre Sandrin


Born: 1490; St. Marcel, France   Died: 1561; Rome, Italy  
Single-named Parisian composer Sandrin, (aka Pierre Regnault), was, along with Claudin de Sermisy, one of the main architects of the Renaissance French chanson. Sandrin was born into a family of actors, and yet it appears his entry into performance was made not in the theater but as a choirboy in the Royal court in Paris. In 1517, Sandrin is shown as singing in the private chapel of Louise of Savoy, mother to King Francis I. However, from this Read more point until his first publication in 1538 there is no word on Sandrin in the historical record, which seems to indicate that during this time he joined his siblings in the French theater. In 1539, Sandrin is singing once again, presumably back in the Royal Chapel, and is petitioning for a position of dean of the chapter of St. Florent-de-Roye in Picardy, which he did not get. That Sandrin's tenure in the Royal court continued for quite some time after King Francis died in 1547 is supported by documents, though by 1554 Sandrin is serving at the court of Ferrarese Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, son of Lucrezia Borgia, in Siena. Sandrin returned to Paris once more in 1560 to settle the estates of his actor brothers, who had just died, also making out his own will at that time. It would not be long before it was executed, as Sandrin is believed to have died in Rome the following year, still in the service of Cardinal d'Este.

Though the majority of his life was spent in the service of the Royal Chapels belonging to the French and Italian courts, not a single sacred work is known from the pen of Sandrin. Sandrin's name, however, is mentioned as "composer" in reference to music utilized for the funeral services of Francis I in 1547, suggesting he did produce sacred music that is lost to us. Sandrin's modern reputation is based on 50 French chansons and a single madrigal, all published between 1538 to 1557, the overwhelming majority of them printed by Jacques Moderne in Lyons and Pierre Attaignant in Paris. Some of Sandrin's chansons were enormously popular; intabulations of them for lute begin to appear in volumes starting in 1545 and continue annually until some 25 years after his assumed death. Sandrin's biggest "hit" was the tune Doulce Mémoire en plasir consommé, which has such resonance with the secular Renaissance in France that in modern times a period-instrument ensemble, the Ensemble Doulce Mémoire, has named itself after it. Sandrin's style is so similar to that of Claudin de Sermisy that many of Sandrin's alleged compositions are likewise attributed to Sermisy. However, Sandrin's authentic works are set apart by a distinct Italianate approach to the melodic line, even from the earliest known ones, which suggests that his contact with the Italian court long predated the year 1554 where his presence is first recorded there. Read less

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