Claudin De Sermisy

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Claudin de Sermisy was a major Renaissance French composer. Apart from Clément Janequin, Sermisy was one of the most prominent composers of French chansons and holy music in the early 16th century. His music was mostly influenced by modern Italian music trends. He is thought to have been associated with the mid-13th-century Sainte-Chapelle, Louis IX’s spectacular palace chapel in 1508, and Queen Anne of Brittany’s private chapel in 1510. Sermisy became a member of Louis XII’s chapel after her death in 1515 and continued in royal service under Francis I. He was eventually promoted to assistant chapel master in 1533. More over half of the chansons published in Pierre Attaingnant’s popular compilation of chansons in 1529 were written by Sermisy. He also wrote almost 200 chansons, more than 20 of which were based on poetry by his colleague Clément Marot. His works were short and sweet, with a fresh, rhythmic, and oratorical style in which chords chase speech sounds. Sermisy also composed and published 78 motets, 11 Magnificat settings, and 13 masses, as well as music for the ‘Holy Week.’

Early Life & Childhood

Because there is no recorded evidence of Sermisy’s birth, it is thought that he was born in Picardy, Burgundy, or the Île-de-France, based on the resemblance of his surname in those regions. Sermisy may have studied with Josquin des Prez during his childhood, according to Pierre Ronsard, but many musicologists disagree. However, after gaining a basic understanding of music, he was able to grasp some of the older composer’s melodic ideas at some point. Josquin is also thought to have been at the French court between 1501 and 1503 in order to become a tutor to Sermisy, though this theory has never been proven. Sermisy’s previous locales are unknown, but one thing is certain: he was linked with the Royal Chapel.

In 1508, Sermisy became a singer at Louis XII’s Royal Chapel, where he also served as a clergyman. His birth date is based on the day he joined the Royal Chapel, which was regarded as the appropriate age for such assignments at the time. In 1515, he traveled to Italy with Francis I and played an important role in the musical festivities at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, directed by Jean Mouton, that were staged by Francis I and Henry VIII of England in 1520. He may have started creating music there in addition to being a singer. He composed a ceremonial motet in 1532 while participating in a similar gathering of kings at Boulogne.

Sermisy’s Professional Life

In the early 1520s, Sermisy was appointed as a canon at Notre-Dame-de-la-Rotonde in Rouen, but he quickly left for a similar position in Amiens in 1524. By 1532, he had risen to the position of music director at the Royal Chapel, still serving under Francis I, who reigned until 1547. His responsibilities as a music director included teaching music to the choir’s boys and recruiting talented vocalists.

He became a canon of the Sainte-Chapelle in 1533, in addition to his position at the Royal Chapel, forcing him to live in Paris. When the Spanish stormed St. Quentin in 1559, he bought a large home there to safeguard immigrants from the church. He was also given a prebend at St. Catherine in Troyes in 1554. It is clear from his earlier biography and the release dates of his compositions that he was active as a composer right up until the end of his life.

Sacred Music Works

Sermisy was a composer who worked on both sacred and secular works. There are 12 completed masses among his sacred music, including 100 motets, a Requiem mass, a collection of Lamentations, and a few magnificats. According to the publishing dates, he had a deep fascination with sacred genres throughout his life, which resulted in a loss of interest in secular forms.

For composers of that era, obtaining accurate dates on compositions is extremely difficult; this is only achievable if a composition was written for a specific occasion. Sermisy abandoned the popular style in favor of crisper textures and shorter phrases, similar to the chansons he had written earlier in his career.

Of his compositions, he also experimented with textures by replacing polyphonic portions with homorhythmic, chordal passages, comparable to the textures in his secular music. Sermisy was also recognized with composing one of the few polyphonic Passion settings found in French music at the time. In contrast to his motets and masses, these polyphonic settings were basic, and he tried to make the text understandable.

About His Chansons Song

Sermisy’s 175 captivating chansons were his main contribution to music. These chansons are similar to Janequin’s, but they are less programmatic. His compositions were polished and graceful. Sermisy’s chansons contain chordal and syllabic characteristics while avoiding the pretentious polyphony of Netherland composers. Sermisy was enthralled by the idea of making rapid recurring notes that gave the textures a buoyancy and rhythmic feel.

Sermisy’s compositions were mostly based on manuscripts or texts by contemporary poets like Clément Marot. In reality, when compared to any other poet or writer, he set many of Marot’s verses. Drinking, unrequited love, and nature were among his favorite topics. Many of his songs were about a dissatisfied young woman stuck with an ugly elderly man, which was a prevalent feeling at the time.

Most of his chansons are written for four voices, but he did write several for three voices early on in his career, before four-voice composing became the norm. Sermisy’s chansons were heavily influenced by the Italian frottola, and his work piqued the interest of young Italian composers, since his music was reproduced numerous times in France and other parts of Europe.

Influence Of Music

Sermisy’s music was widely copied throughout Western Europe, including Portugal, Italy, England, Spain, and other European countries. Rabelais wrote about him in Gargantua and Pantagruel in Book 4 along with several other contemporary composers. Performers from France, Germany, Italy, and Poland transcribed Sermisy’s pieces for lute, instruments, viols, organs, and other keyboard instruments multiple times.

Despite the fact that Sermisy was a Catholic, several of his tunes were later taken by Protestant musicians. A Lutheran chorale tune (Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh allzeit, for example) is based on a Sermisy chanson (Il me suffit de tous mes maulx).

Legacy And Death

On October 13, 1562, he died. He was laid to rest in the Sainte-bottom Chapelle’s chapel. Despite his celebrity throughout his lifetime, Claudin’s songs faded quickly after his death. In the twentieth century, he was rediscovered, and his music was praised for its distinctive qualities of stability and grace.

Estimated Net Worth

The estimated net worth of Claudin De Sermisy is not available