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 Pérotin

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Pérotin

Composer. The greatest representative of the Medieval period's Notre Dame School. He is one of the few members of that mysterious group known to us by name, and the only one to whom compositions can be attributed with confidence. Pérotin revolutionized Western music by introducing four-voice polyphony in his masterpieces "Viderunt omnes" (1198) and "Sederunt principes" (1199), and in "Mors" (c. 1200), an adaptation of the Easter Week chant "Alleluia V. Cristus resurgens". Before him music was either based on monophonic plainchant or in two voices (known as organum). These works epitomized the pioneering use of modal rhythms that was characteristic of the whole Notre Dame School. He was also one of the earliest creators of three-voice polyphony, and was credited with revising Léonin's monumental collection "Magnus Liber Organi" ("Great Book of Organum", c. 1175). Nothing certain is known of Pérotin's life. He was probably French and had an M.A. from the University of Paris, since he was referred to as "Magister", which meant he was licensed to teach. Some believe he studied with Léonin. The scant chronology pieced together from his works suggests he may have been the Petrus Succentor who oversaw performance of the liturgy at Notre Dame from 1207 to 1238. Late 13th Century English theorist Anonymous IV noted a handful of his compositions, including the "Viderunt omnes" and "Sederunt principes"; the three-voice "Alleluia", "Posui adiutorium", and "Nativitas"; the two-voice "Dum sigillum summi Patris"; and the monophonic "Beata viscera". At least 10 others are attributed to him on stylistic grounds. In revising the "Magnus Liber" Pérotin availed himself of a standard musical practice of his time: he added or substituted his own vocal lines (called clausulae) to the music of earlier Notre Dame composers. It is likely he wrote hundreds of clausulae, making his contributions to the "Liber" more extensive than can be ascertained. Anonymous IV claimed these edits were improvements, which they were surely intended to be, but they had the unfortunate consequence of forever obscuring the original work of Léonin and his colleagues. The timeless power and beauty of Pérotin's known pieces have made them favorites among fans of Early Music.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 2 Mar 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 86153873
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Pérotin (1160–1238), Find A Grave Memorial no. 86153873, citing Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .