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Jean Mouton

Biography

Born: 1459   Died: October 30, 1522; Saint-Quentin, France  
Jean Mouton was one of the most important motet composers of the French Renaissance period.

He enters the historical record when, at the age of 18 or older, he was appointed a singer and also a teacher of religious subjects in the collegiate church of Notre Dame in Nesle in 1477. In 1483 he rose to the position of maître de chapelle there. The documents showing this also say that he was a priest, so his age was a minimum of
Read more 25.

There is a gap of over 15 years in his history, when he is noted as being maitre des enfin (or director of choir boys) at Amines Cathedral, and the author or organizer of the performance of a mystery play. It is considered likely that he earned his master's degree, perhaps in Paris, after leaving his position in Paris and before arriving in Amines.

In 1501, he became director of music in the collegiate church of St André in Grenoble. King Louis XII and his wife, Queen Anne of Brittany, visited Grenoble in June 1502. It appears that they took Mouton with them, for church records show that he left his position there without the permission of his chapter, and other records soon after that show he had joined Queen Anne's chapel some time during that decade. The Queen arranged in 1509 that Mouton would be appointed a canon at St. André in Grenoble, in absentia, meaning he got the income but did not have to do the work. (Such sinecures were not uncommon during this period.)

Mouton remained attached to the royal court for the rest of his life, remaining when François I took the throne. Whether the title existed or not, he filled the functions of an official court composer. He wrote both secular and sacred music for specific public and private royal functions, including royal weddings. For instance, his motet Inter natos mulierum is though to have been written to Queen Anne's order after she was cured of an illness in 1506 and attributed the cure to a relic of John the Baptist. He wrote a touching motet, Quis debit oculis, on the Queen's death in 1514.

Another, Missus et angelus Gabriel was composed for the arrival of Louis XII's new wife, Mary Tudor, in Paris in 1514. Whatever music he wrote on the occasion of Louis' death less than a year later is unknown, but he wrote Domine salvum fac regem for the coronation of François I in Reims in 1515, and celebrated that King's first notable military victory, at the Battle of Marignano in that same year, with Exalte Regina Galliae, even though the losers in that battle were the forces of Pope Leo X. When the Pope and the King met to conclude a peace treaty in December of that same eventful year, they were accompanied by their own respective musical establishments. On hearing Father Mouton's musicians and music, the Pope rewarded him by appointing him an apostolic notary.

Leo remained fond of Mouton's music. Some sources describe him as the Pope's favorite composer, and it is likely that he sent several Masses to the Pope.

Mouton's fame was widely spread, and he was among the first composers to have an entire volume of his music published. This was done by the pioneer of music printing, Petrucci, who issued a book of his Masses in 1515. Another important collection of his music is a compilation of his motets issued in 1555, several years after his death. This attention allows a large proportion of his works to survive, numbering over 100 motets, 15 masses, and more than 20 chansons. Another legacy of his stems from his having been the teacher of Adrian Willaert, who himself became a great teacher in the Franco-Netherlands style, which exerted great influence in Italian music of the high Renaissance. On the other hand, it is unlikely that Mouton was (as has been speculated) a pupil of Josquin.

While Mouton's music uses many of the techniques associated with Josquin's, his musical personality is entirely different. Josquin's temperament was fiery, while Mouton tended to write calming, meditative music with smooth, flowing polyphony.

For the most part, the music is written in longer notes of even pace, with a few shorter notes used mainly to add variety. In his religious music he seems not to have cared much whether the accents of the music matched that of the texts, and therefore the words are not easily understood. However, in his writing for political occasions, where the words were less familiar and much more important, he did take care that the music helped project them.

The description of this music might suggest that much of it suffered sameness or that it was so uniform that it becomes dull, but this is not generally the case. Within the music is the work of a brilliant contrapuntal thinker. His Nesciens mater virgo virum is a quadruple canon partly based on a plainchant. There are distinct periods in his music that mirror the age's general progress from reliance on a cantus firmus to newer devices such a parody and paraphrase. In later motets he used a repetitive structure that seems to anticipate the Baroque's ritornello technique.

In 1518, Duke Lorenzo de Medici or Urbino married Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne. One of their wedding gifts was a collection called the Medici Codex, an elegant illuminated manuscript of music of the time, of which Mouton was probably editor-in-chief.

Once again, in 1520, Mouton was involved in a kind of musical contest attending a peace parley when François met King Henry VIII of England at the Field of the Cloth of Gold and both monarchs brought their musicians.

Toward the end of his life, Mouton received another beneficence, at St. Quentin, which is where he died and was buried. Read less
Browse 26-37 of 37 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Label: Hungaroton   Catalog: 32412 Release Date: 04/24/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Valentin Bakfark,  Claude de Sermisy,  Jacques Arcadelt,  Phillippe Verdelot  ... 
    Performer:  Istvan Györi
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  • 27.
    Pilgrimage To Santiago / Gardiner, Et Al
    Label: Soli Deo Gloria Records   Catalog: 701 Release Date: 11/14/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Tomás Luis de Victoria,  Giovanni Palestrina,  Cristóbal de Morales  ... 
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monteverdi Choir
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  • 28.
    Echo - Francesco Da Milano: Intabolatura Da Leuto / Beier
    Label: Stradivarius   Catalog: 11010 Release Date: 06/13/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francesco Da Milano,  Claude de Sermisy,  Loyset Compère,  Jean Mouton
    Performer:  Paul Beier
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  • 29.
    Music From The Time Of Tillman Riemenschneider
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8557138 Release Date: 01/18/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Jean Mouton
    Conductor:  Bernhard Bohm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Curioso
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  • 30.
    The Medici Wedding - Mouton, Willaert, Etc / Ring Ensemble
    Label: Alba   Catalog: 154 Release Date: 03/30/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Richafort,  Adrian Willaert,  Costanzo Festa,  Andreas de Silva  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Finland Ring Ensemble
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  • 31.
    Riemenschneider: Music Of His Time
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8558145 Release Date: 01/01/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anonymous,  Jean Mouton,  Heinrich Finck,  Paul Hofhaimer  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernhard Bohm
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Il Curioso,  Hedos Ensemble
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  • 32.
    The David Munrow Edition - The Art Of The Netherlands
    Label: Virgin Classics Veritas Edition   Catalog: 61334 Release Date: 09/10/2002   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jacob Obrecht,  Johannes Ockeghem,  Pierre de La Rue,  Anonymous  ... 
    Conductor:  David Munrow
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Early Music Consort of London
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  • 33.
    The A-la-mi-re Manuscripts - Flemish Polyphonic Treasures
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8554744 Release Date: 01/25/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre de La Rue,  Hans Neusidler,  Cornelius Rigo,  Anonymous  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Capilla Flamenca
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  • 34.
    Sacred And Profane - Rossi, Morley, Et Al / Salomone Trio
    Label: Titanic   Catalog: 238 Release Date: 10/13/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alfons X (El Sabio),  Robert Johnson,  Traditional,  Henry Youll  ... 
    Performer:  Marie Costanza,  Elissa Weiss,  Laura Liben,  Carol Flamm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Salomone Trio
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  • 35.
    I Love Lucette - French Theatrical Chansons / Hesperus
    Label: Koch International Classics   Catalog: 7429 Release Date: 05/19/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes de Stokem,  Clément Janequin,  Pierre Attaingnant,  Jean Guyon  ... 
    Performer:  Jane Hershey,  Howard Bass,  Scott Reiss,  Rosa Lamoreaux  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hesperus Ensemble
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  • 36.
    Christmas Music From Medieval & Renaissance Europe / Sixteen
    Label: Hyperion   Catalog: 66263 Release Date: 10/13/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mateo Flecha,  Anonymous,  Orlando de Lassus,  Jean Mouton  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen
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  • 37.
    Our Heart's Joy: A Chanticleer Christmas
    Label: Chanticleer Records   Catalog: 8803 Release Date: 12/15/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jacobus Handl,  Andrea Gabrieli,  Francisco Guerrero,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Foster Sommerlad,  Neal Rogers,  Mark [Tenor Vocal] Daniel,  Matthew [Tenor Vocal] Thompson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chanticleer
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