Pierre Phalèse


Born: 1510 Died: 1573
Pierre Phalèse was born the son of a brewer, but would go on to establish one of the most influential music printing houses in Europe. He may or may not have had musical blood in his family (an organist in Louvain named Antoine van der Phalisen died in 1487), and nothing is known of his early musical training or education. In 1541, he began selling books to the university in his hometown, printing a number of scholarly books, as well as books in lute tablature (in association with Louvain printers Martin de Raymaker and Jacob Baethen). In January 1552, however, Phalèse graduated to full professional status and was granted an official patent to print music. His earliest solo publications included motet collections from the big names in Catholic composition from the Low Countries: Clemens non Papa, Nicolas Gombert, Thomas Crecquillon, and Adrian Willaert.

Phalèse was apparently not content, however, with just printing more copies of similar publications; he intended to expand the printing profession. In the 1560s, he not only printed motet and chanson collections, but continued his publication of lute tablature with a twist. He was the first printer to publish chamber music in a "table" arrangement so that two players could face each other and read their own notes right-side up. In addition, Phalèse printed several collections of plainchant music, in large-scale choirbook format as one might see in the manuscripts copied at that time for the larger Cathedrals, and also using a new typeface that could produce plainchant neumatic notation. In 1570, Phalèse expanded his business by associating with Antwerp printer Jean Bellère, whose international contacts allowed Phalèse to contract with a larger stable of musicians; he was even examined (positively) by the famous printer Plantin in this year. Phalèse died sometime in the mid-1570s, and his son, also called Pierre, took on the family business into the seventeenth century.

There are 18 Pierre Phalèse recordings available.

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