Jehan Titelouze


Born: 1562; St. Omer, France   Died: October 24, 1633; Rouen, France  
Though Renaissance-era composer Jehan Titelouze is a fairly obscure figure in music today, he was a well-known musician in his time, noted both for his virtuoso organ playing and his organ works. In fact, Titelouze rightly earned the reputation as the first important French composer of organ music. His entire organ output is contained in two volumes: Hymnes de l'Eglise pour toucher sur l'orgue (Church hymns for organ) and Le Magnificat, ou Read more cantique de la Vierge (Magnificat, the song of the Virgin). Titelouze also composed three masses for choir and almost certainly wrote a good many other works whose manuscripts were subsequently lost. The two compilations are notable in that they were the first organ collections published in sixteenth century France. Beyond this distinction, they also serve as the legacy of the man who is recognized as the first significant composer from the French organ school. Titelouze's organ works are not widely available on recordings today, but some have been issued in collections from Naxos, Centaur, Atma Classique, Priory Records, and Motette.

Jehan Titelouze was born in Saint-Omer, Spanish Netherlands in 1562-1563. Little is known of his early years, though by the 1580s he was one of the secondary organists at the Saint-Omer Cathedral. He began studies for the priesthood before 1585, by which time he was apparently highly skilled both as an organist and composer.

In 1688 he was appointed organist at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame in Rouen, succeeding François Josseline. Titelouze held the post until his death in 1633. He was named canon in 1610 and thereafter lived comfortably on the benefices of his posts.

It was not until the 1620s that Titelouze's works appeared in print: Hymnes de l'Eglise pour toucher sur l'orgue was published in 1623 and Le Magnificat, ou cantique de la Vierge appeared in 1626. Despite their late publication dates, the works were written throughout his career.

Titelouze was active from 1588 until at least 1623 as a consultant on organ installation and restoration. Chief among his work in this endeavor was the renovation of the organ at his own Cathédrale Notre-Dame in 1601. On this project he collaborated with esteemed organ builder Crespin Carlier. Titelouze received two prestigious citations for his poetry from the Académie des Palinods (a prominent literary society in Rouen), the first coming in 1613 and the latter in 1630. Read less
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