The Complete Works of Gilles Mureau (c1442-1512) – poet-musician of Chartres
Four secular songs – that is all the composer Gilles Mureau is known for today. Among the four was a song that became an international hit, “Je ne fais plus, je ne dis ne escris”, while the remaining three did not enjoy a comparable circulation – even if they were known in Florence during the 1480s and 1490s. Copyists began to ascribe the ‘hit song’ to the far more famous musicians Busnoys and Compere, and it was provided with an extra “Si placet” altus part in Ottaviano Petrucci’s pioneering printed collection of secular music from 1501, the Odhecaton. Long before that, Mureau’s name as a composer apparently started to sink into oblivion outside Central France, and it looks as if he for the greater part of his career concentrated on other things, and that the songs may belong to his youth.
This introduction aims to discuss what we know about his life and work, and to review his few preserved songs on this background. His stature as a composer might turn out to be more important than one would expect from the treatment as a third-rank composer he usually receives in the musicological literature. Mureau’s literary ambitions and his way of transforming his poetic texts into music may have had some influence on the younger generation of chanson composers. At the end comes a short discussion of the difficulties of ascribing anonymous chansons along with an investigation into some candidates for inclusion into the works of Mureau.
Appendix: Three anonymous chansons from Florence 176
PWCH August 2011