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Henri IV - An unfinished reign

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La Guerre

Claude Le Jeune

Source : ‘Inconstance et Vanité du Monde: musiques aux cours de France et de Savoie en 1601’; Anne Quentin [et altr.]; Astrée-Naïve E 8814 (2000).

Caption

Based on a text by Jean-Antoine de Baïf, which was then modified by Agrippa d’Aubigné or Odet de La Noue, this song in rhymed vers mesurés à l’antique was probably composed in the 1590s. It offers a perfect illustration of the humanist theories developed by the Academy of Poetry and Music, which was founded by Baïf and the musician Thibault de Courville. These theories were aimed at reviving the "effects" of the music of Antiquity, which, it was believed, could be reproduced by using the ethos of the Greek musical modes and associating them with a rhythmic scheme consisting of varying combinations of long and short syllables, modelled on the scansion of Greek and Roman poetry.

Composer

Claude Le Jeune

(ca. 1530–1600)

"Claudin" Le Jeune was born in Valenciennes. Sometime prior to 1564 he settled in Paris, where he quickly attracted the patronage of several Protestant seigneurs, including François de La Noue and Charles de Téligny (son-in-law of the admiral de Coligny). Later, starting in the 1570s, he received the support of Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne and future duc de Bouillon.

He played an active role in the humanist project of the Académie de Musique et de Poésie, which had been founded in 1570, and was one of the principal architects of musique mesurée à l’antique, in which French words were set to ancient metric forms in order to recreate the "effects" that ancient music was reputed to produce. He barely escaped being killed in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre on 24 August 1572, and became "maistre de la Musique" of François de Valois – brother of Charles IX, the future Henri III and of Marguerite de Valois – and remained in the duc's service until the death of François in 1584. It was likely that Le Jeune met the king of Navarre, the future Henri IV, when François de Valois and his retinue stopped at Nérac in September 1580.

In the autumn of 1581, Le Jeune's composed several vocal pieces for the Balet comique de la Royne, which was performed at the festivities organised for the marriage of the duc de Joyeuse to Marguerite de Lorraine-Vaudémont. In 1590, he fled Paris to escape persecution by the Holy League. He found refuge in La Rochelle, where he rubbed shoulders with the great Huguenot poets of the era, including Jacques de Constans, Odet de La Noue, Agrippa d’Aubigné – some of whose texts he set to music. He also frequented Nicolas Rapin who, although Catholic, had abandoned the Holy League and sided with Navarre.

As soon as he acceded to the throne of France, Henri IV made Le Jeune one of his favourite musicians, and created the post of Maître Compositeur ordinaire de la Musique de la Chambre du roi just for him. But Le Jeune had little time to benefit from the king's largesse, as he died in September 1600.

His rich and varied opus (more than 600 pieces) was published between 1552 and 1612, most of it posthumously, at his sister's behest. It consists of many songs and airs, a number of which are set in "antique" metres, a dozen Latin motets that appear at the end of the two books of Mélanges, collections of Protestant songs in both simple and florid counterpoint and in "antique" metre, one authenticated mass (Missa Ad Placitum) and one of more dubious authenticity (the so-called "Savoie manuscript") and three instrumental fantasies.

Transcription (in French)

À TROIS.
Bataille, compagnons, bataille alons camper
Le bras dedans le sang des énemis tremper
Notre Roy s’en vient, suivons tous son drapeau
Nul de nous n’ayt soin d’epargner lors sa peau.
Bataille, compagnons…

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