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 Guillaume Dufay
Cenotaph

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Guillaume Dufay

  • Birth 5 Aug 1397
  • Death 27 Nov 1474
  • Cenotaph Lille, Departement du Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France
  • Plot Tombstone on display at the Galleries of the Former Netherlands, 15th and 16th Centuries, Room 4
  • Memorial ID 32769508

Composer. The central figure of the Burgundian School, he was the most famous and influential musician of the 1400s. Pietro de Medici called him "The ornament of our age", and present-day historians regard his work as representing the dawn of the Renaissance in music. Dufay was born in Cambrai, France, then in the Duchy of Burgundy, and received his first musical training as a choirboy in the cathedral there. Ordained a priest in 1428, he spent many years in Italy, serving in the Vatican's Papal Choir (1429 to 1433) and for many noble patrons, including the Medici family. Dufay helped spread the influence of Italian music throughout Europe and by the 1450s he was an international celebrity. In 1458 he was named Canon of Cambrai Cathedral, where he remained for the rest of his life. On his deathbed he requested a choir to sing for him a motet he had written for the occasion, including the words, "God have mercy on your dying Dufay", but this could not be done in time. He was entombed in the Chapel of St. Etienne. During the mid-1790s the Cambrai Cathedral was completely destroyed by pro-revolutionary mobs; in 1859 Dufay's tombstone was discovered in a nearby courtyard, where it was being used to cover a well. It is now in a museum in Lille, France. Dufay was perhaps the first true cosmopolitan in music. His knowledge of the art was vast and techniques from Italy, France, Flanders, and England can be found in his scores. He was not an innovator; his style was firmly based on Medieval modes. But in feeling he heralds the humanism of the Renaissance. What won him renown in his time is what draws listeners to his music today: the breadth and variety of expression, the perfection of his craft, the smoothly flowing blend of melody and harmony. Approximately 200 of Dufay's compositions have been preserved, all in manuscript. These include six complete Masses, among them the "Missa Ave regina celorum", "Missa L'homme arme", and "Missa se la face ay pale", 20 Mass movements, 30 motets, 24 hymns, 3 Magnificats, and around 90 songs. He also wrote the earliest polyphonic setting of the Requiem, which was performed at his funeral, but it has not survived.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 8 Jan 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 32769508
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Guillaume Dufay (5 Aug 1397–27 Nov 1474), Find A Grave Memorial no. 32769508, citing Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, Lille, Departement du Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .