Antoine Busnoys

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Antoine Busnoys (also Busnois ; * around 1435 in Busnes (?), Today in the Pas-de-Calais department ; † before November 6, 1492 in Bruges ) was a Franco-Flemish composer , poet , singer and cleric of the early Renaissance .

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Although the exact place of his birth is not known, the name of Antoine Busnoys suggests that his family came from the village of Busnes near Lille (Pas-de-Calais, historic county of Artois ). He probably received his education at the maîtrise of a cathedral or collegiate church near his home town; However, there is no evidence of this. His knowledge of Latin and Greek, which is evident in his motet texts and canon regulations, clearly indicates that he has acquired a university degree.

A Paris manuscript from the late 1450s names 15 poets, Busnoys among them, and some of them married in 1458 at the court of Duke Arthur III. stopped by Brittany . However, there is no evidence that Busnoys was one of them. He was hour reader and chaplain at the cathedral Saint-Martin in Tours since 1460/61 at the latest . Treasurer of this cathedral at that time was the well-known composer Johannes Ockeghem . In 1461, Louis XI. crowned king of France; Busnoys wrote the ballad "Resjoys toy terre de France" for the occasion. An incident has also become known that Busnoy's organized physical attacks on another priest and was involved in them, which is why he was excommunicated in 1461 , but was later exculpated by Pope Pius II at his own instigation (lifting of excommunication).

On April 7th, Palm Sunday of the year 1465, Busnoys was introduced to the minor ordinations of the priesthood in the church of Saint-Vernant in Tours and was appointed subdeacon just a week later . At that time he was already a Magister puerorum (teacher of the choirboys ) at Saint-Martin and was responsible for the education of his protégés and their good behavior. In addition, he already had a reputation as an outstanding musician and poet at that time, which prompted the canons of the Saint-Hilaire Cathedral in Poitiers to employ Busnoys as a Magister clericulorum in September 1465 , after the previous incumbent dismissed Le Begun had been. Busnoys raised the level of the choir by accepting capable choirboys. However, this position does not seem to have promised him in the long run, because after July 19 of the following year Le Begun was reinstated in his previous office because Busnoys had left the city of Poitiers. Some evidence shows that he then worked for some time at Saint-Silvestre in the Château near Mons . His excellent reputation around this time suggests that he had already created a number of important compositions, perhaps more than half of his chansons as well as his mass "L'Homme armé", before he entered Burgundian service.

Some of Antoine Busnoys' chansons contain allusions to a Jacqueline d'Haqueville. This could either be Jacqueline d'Haqueville Bouchart from a wealthy Parisian merchant family, the wife of the Paris Councilor Jean Bouchart († between 1500 and 1508), or Jacqueline d'Haqueville, the lady in waiting for the highly educated King's daughter Margaret of Scotland († 1443).

Heir to the Duchy of Burgundy in June 1467 was the Count of Charolais, known as Charles the Bold , son of Philip the Good . Busnoys, who was in the Count's service from February 1, 1467, described himself as the Count's singer (chantre-valet de chambre) in his motet “In hydraulis”, so initially he was not a member of the court orchestra, but until September 1468 a private one Employee of the count, perhaps with other functions. In the summer of the following year he achieved the position of cantor and in October 1470 was appointed Demi-Chapellain ; he was thus a regular member of the ducal chapel. From this point on, he was also referred to as a messire , an indication that he had meanwhile entered the priesthood. From 1473 he called himself Maistre , which indicates a university degree, and held the position of a full-time chaplain. Around this time his employer informed the chapter of Saint-Silvester in Mons that Busnoys had renounced his benefice there . As a member of the court orchestra, Busnoys accompanied the duke on his travels and military campaigns; this can be seen from documents according to which he was reimbursed for the costs of equipment and armament. Overall, however, the records from the 1470s are patchy.

In 1476, Charles the Bold reduced his chapel considerably, so the Busnoys were probably spared the Lorraine battles at Grandson (March 2, 1476) and Murten (June 21, 1476) and the defeat of Nancy . During this time he probably served Margarete von Yorck, who had been the duke's wife since 1468. After Charles the Bold died in 1477, the chapel was taken over by his daughter Marie of Burgundy († 1482). With her husband, Maximilian of Austria from the House of Habsburg (from 1493 King Maximilian I ), Busnoys worked from 1478 or 1479 in the construction of the later famous Habsburg chapel, which later the composers Heinrich Isaac , Alexander Agricola and Pierre de la Rue belonged to. Up to May 1483 Busnoys' affiliation to the mentioned institutions can be proven, in some cases with longer periods of absence. He also had benefices in the Dutch parishes of Oost-Voorne and Tholen and in the French parishes of Saint-Gommaire in Lierre and Veurne (Diocese of Thérouanne ), perhaps also in Condé. However, his clerical status did not match that of Johannes Ockeghem or Guillaume Dufay .

From 1484/85 Busnoys was cantor at Saint-Sauveur in Bruges, where Jacob Obrecht was also active around this time . In addition to leading the choral singing , his duties also included the function of the succentor , who also had to teach the choirboys. At Saint-Sauveur he was also a member of the Confraternitas chori . Antoine Busnoys died shortly before November 6, 1492.


Although Busnoys' life lasted until about the end of the 15th century, he bore many of the characteristics of a medieval composer who was both a scholar and a poet. He was known during his lifetime as a poet who wrote in the vernacular French - perhaps the only composer of the time to whom this applies. There is also an exchange of letters between him and the poet Jean Molinet (1435–1507).

A larger part of Busnoys' works are so-called forme-fixe chansons , with many of the lyrics probably originating from himself. About 60 chansons are definitely from him, with another 15 chansons his authorship is uncertain or another composer is possible. Most of the chansons are three-part ( duets by soprano and tenor with contratenor ); but there are also four-part movements. The texts are predominantly French, only one text (“In myne zynn”) is of Flemish origin. The two settings of Italian texts belong to the group of those with uncertain authorship. Wide, beautiful melodic lines are characteristic of the melodic-contrapuntal style of the chansons. They occasionally have a range of more than an octave within a phrase, as well as syncopated or dotted rhythms and imitations at the beginning of a text phrase. In his motets in particular, his style is characterized by an idiosyncratic, personal trait.

The smaller part of his compositions are sacred works, and only a part of them has survived. Certainly from him are two masses, part of a mass and eleven settings of other Latin texts; these are now available in a complete edition ( Richard Taruskin 1990). It is in this area that Busnoys seem to have influenced his younger contemporaries most, particularly with the melodic and contrapuntal style of this music. The tenor of the mass "L'Homme armé" by Jacob Obrecht is identical to the tenor of the mass of the same name by Busnoys, which is certainly not a coincidence. His compositional techniques had a noticeably great influence on Josquin des Prez, with the exception of the Jacob Obrecht mentioned above .


Manuscript of the Missa O crux Lignum
Quant ce vendra recorded by ASTERIA on WQXR; with David Garland
  • Spiritual works
    • Measure and measuring parts
      • Missa “L'homme armé” with four voices
      • Missa “O crux lignum” with four voices
      • “Patrem Vilayge” to four votes
    • Motets and other works with Latin text
      • Hymn “Ad coenam agni providi” with four voices
      • “Alleluia, verbum caro factum est” for four voices
      • “Anima mea liquefacta est” / “Stirps Jesse” with three voices
      • “Anthoni usque limina” with four voices
      • Hymn “Conditor alme siderum” with four voices
      • “In hydraulis” to four voices
      • Magnificat sexti toni with two to four voices
      • “Noel, noel” to four voices
      • Antiphon “Regina coeli” (I) to four voices
      • Antiphon “Regina coeli” (II) to four voices
      • Sequence “Victimae paschali laudes” with four voices
  • Secular works
    • With French text
      • “Acordes moy ce que je pense”, rondeau with four voices
      • “Advegne que advenir pourra”, a rondeau with three voices
      • “Amours nous traicte” / “Je m'en vois” with four voices
      • "Amours me tien en son domaine", rondeau with three voices (cf. "Faites de moy")
      • “A qui vens tu res coquilles”, rondeau with three votes
      • “Au gré de mes ieulx”, Bergerette with three voices
      • "A une dame j'ay fait veu", Bergerette to three votes
      • “Au povre par necessité”, a rondeau with three votes
      • “A vous, sans autre”, Rondeau for three voices
      • “Bel acueil”, a rondeau with three votes
      • "Bon me larim bom bom" to four votes (see "Corps digne")
      • “Bone chère” with three voices
      • “Ce n'est pas moy”, Bergerette to three votes
      • "C'est bien maleur", Rondeau to three voices
      • "C'est vous en qui j'ay esperance", Bergerette to three voices
      • "Chi dit on benedicite", rondeau to three voices
      • “Corps digne / Dieu quel mariage” with four votes
      • “En soustenant vostre querelle”, a rondeau with three voices
      • "En tout les lieux on j'ay esté", Bergerette with four voices
      • “En voyant sa dame au matin”, Rondeau with three votes
      • "Est-il merci de quoy l'on peut finer", rondeau to three votes
      • "Faites de moy tout [ce] qui vous plaira", a rondeau with three voices
      • “Faulx mesdisans”, rondeau with three votes
      • “Ha que ville”, Rondeau, also as a canon with three voices
      • “Ja que lui ne si attende”, Bergerette to three votes
      • “J'ay mains de bien que s'il n'en estoit”, Bergerette with three votes
      • “Je m'esbaïs de vous”, a rondeau with three voices
      • “Je ne demande aultre de gré”, Rondeau to four votes
      • “Je ne demande lialté” with three votes
      • “Je ne puis vivre ainsi”, Bergerette to three votes
      • "Joie me fuit et douleur me queurt seure", Rondeau with three voices
      • “Laissez dangier faire tous ses effors”, Bergerette to three votes
      • “L'autrier la pieça / Margot la bergiers / En l'ombre du buissonet / Trop suis jonette” with four votes
      • “L'autrier que passa” to four voices
      • “Le corps s'en va et le cueur vous demeure”, Rondeau with three voices
      • “Le monde est tel pour le present” with three voices
      • "Le second jour d'avril" to four voices (cf. "In myne zynn")
      • “Ma damoiselle, ma maitresse”, Rondeau to three votes
      • "Ma doulce ceur" to three voices (cf. "M'a vostre cueur")
      • “Maintes femmes”, Bergerette to four voices
      • "Ma plus qu'assez et tant bruiante", Bergerette to three votes
      • “Ma tres souveraine princesse”, rondeau with three votes
      • “M'a vostre cueur”, Bergerette with three voices
      • “Mon mignault musequin / Gracieuse, playsant muniere”, Rondeau for four voices
      • “Mon seul et celé souvenir”, rondeau with three voices
      • “O Fortune, do it yourself”, Rondeau to three votes
      • “On a grant mal par trop amer / On est bien malade pour amer”, Rondeau with four voices
      • “Pour entretenir mes amours”, Rondeau with three votes
      • “Pucellotte que dieu nos quart”, ballad for three voices
      • “Quant j'ay au cueur”, rondeau for three voices
      • “Quant vous me ferez plus de bien”, a rondeau with three voices
      • "Quelque povre homme que je soie" (I), Rondeau with three votes
      • "Quelque povre homme que je soie" (II), rondeau with three voices (different versions)
      • “Seule a par moy en chambre bien paree”, Rondeau with three voices
      • "Seyense an mains" to three voices (cf. "Ung grand povre homme insanne")
      • “Soudainement mon cueur a pris”, Bergerette with three voices
      • "Terrible dame", Rondeau to four votes
      • “Une filleresse d'estouppes / S'il ya compagnon / Vostre amour” with four voices
      • “Ung grand povre homme insanne” to three votes
      • “Ung plus que tous est en mon souvenir”, rondeau with three voices
      • “Vostre gracieuse acointance”, a rondeau with three voices
    • With Flemish text
      • “In myne zynn” to four voices
    • With Italian text
      • "Con tutta gentileça", ballata for three voices (possibly a counterfactor )
      • "Fortuna desperata" (five versions) for three or four voices (numerous sources, Busnoys' authorship disputed)
  • Works of controversial attribution / anonymous works
    • Spiritual works
      • Missa "Quant ce viendra" for four voices (attribution by Richard Taruskin )
      • Missa “L'Ardent desir” with four voices
      • 6 “L'Homme armé” masses with four to five voices
      • Magnificat octavi toni for four voices (attribution by Richard Taruskin)
      • “Gaude caelestis domina” to four voices
      • “Incomprehensibilia firme” / “Preter rerum ordinem” to four voices
    • Secular works
      • "Amours, amours, amours" with four voices (also attributed to Jean Japart )
      • "Amours fait moult / Il est de bonne heure né / Tant que nostre argent dura", rondeau with four voices (also attributed to Japart)
      • "Cent mile escus" (two versions) with three or four voices (also attributed to Firminus Caron )
      • "D'Ung aultre amer" with three voices (attributed to Busnoys and Ockeghem or anonymous)
      • "Et qui la dira" to four voices (attributed to Busnoys or Japart)
      • "J'ay bien choisi à mon vouloir", rondeau with three voices (also attributed to Hayne van Ghizeghem )
      • "J'ay pris amours tout au rebours", rondeau with four voices (also attributed to Johannes Martini )
      • "Je ne fay plus" (two versions) with three or four voices (also attributed to Loyset Compère and G. Mureau)
      • "Je suis venu vers mon ami", rondeau with three voices (also attributed to Hayne van Ghizeghem)
      • “Le serviteur”, rondeau for four voices (soprano and tenor by Guillaume Dufay?)
      • "Malagrota" to three voices (cf. "S'amours vous fui")
      • "Pour les biens qu'en vous je parcoy" with three voices (anonymous; possibly one of the Haqueville songs)
      • "Quant ce vendra", Rondeau (two versions) with three or four voices (also attributed to Ockeghem)
      • "Resjois toy terre de France / Rex pacificus", motet chanson with four voices (anonymous)
      • "S'amours vous fui" for three voices ("Malagrota" by Heinrich Isaac; "Sans avoir", anonymous)
      • "Se brief je puis", rondeau with three voices (also attributed to Caron)
      • "Vous marchez au bout du pie / Vostre beauté" with four voices (also attributed to Heinrich Isaac)
  • Lost Works
    • "Asperges me" (mentioned in an entry dealing with a lost manuscript for Louis XI)
    • "Congaudebant" (mentioned by Johannes Tinctoris in Liber de arte contrapuncti 1477)
    • "Gabrielem" for four and five voices (mentioned in a letter to the Marquis of Mantua in 1494)
    • "Lamentation" on the death of Guillaume Dufay (copied in 1475 into a choir book of the cathedral of Cambrai which has not survived)

Literature (selection)

  • J. Houdoy: Histoire artistique de la Cathédrale de Cambrai, ancienne église métropolitaine Notre Dame , Lille 1880
  • G. van Doorslaer: La Chapelle musicale de Philippe de Beau. In: Revue belge d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art, No. 4, 1934
  • W. Stephan: The Burgundian-Dutch motet at the time of Ockeghem , Kassel 1937
  • G. Perle: The Chansons of Antoine Busnois. In: Musical Review , Volume 11, 1950, pages 89-97
  • Catherine V. Brooks: Antoine Busnois, chanson composer. In: Journal of the American Musicological Society, Volume 6, 1953, pages 111-135
  • Micheline D. Ustilla: The texts of the chansons of Antoine Busnois , dissertation at New York University 1960
  • EH Sparks: Cantus firmus in Mass and Motet, 1420-1520 , Berkeley - Cambridge 1963
  • J. Cohen: The Six Anonymous L'Homme armé Masses in Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, MS VI E 40 , Rome 1968 (= Musicological Studies an Documents No. 21)
  • A. Seay: The Conditor alme Siderum by Busnois. In: Quadrivivium No. 12, 1971, pages 225-234
  • Leeman L. Perkins: Antoine Busnois and the D'Hacqueville Connection. In: MB Win (ed.), Musique naturelle et musique artificielle: In memoriam Gustave Reese, Le Moyen Français 5, Montréal 1979, pages 49-64
  • L. Perkins: The L'Homme armé Masses of Busnoys and Ockeghem. A Comparison. In: Journal of Musicology No. 3, 1984, pp. 363-396
  • W. Arlt: From traditional findings to the composition process. Observations on the two versions of Busnoys' Je ne puis vivre ainsy. In: Festschrift A. Forchert, edited by G. Allroggen / D. Altenburg, Kassel 1986, pages 27-40
  • Paula Marie Higgins: Antoine Busnois and Musical Culture in Late Fifteenth-Century France and Burgundy , PhD thesis at Princeton University 1987
  • RC Wegman: Busnoys' Anthoni usque limina and the Order of Saint-Antoine-en-Barbefosse. In: Studi musicali No. 17, 1988, pages 15-32
  • David Fallows: Busnoys and the Early Fifteenth Century. A note on "L'Ardent desir" and "Faictes de moy". In: Music and Letters No. 71, 1990, pp. 20-24
  • The same: Parisian Nobles, a Scottish Princess, and the Woman's Voice in Late Medieval Song. In: Early Music History . Volume 10, 1991, pages 145-200
  • M. Natvig: The Latin-Texted Works of Antoine Busnois , dissertation at the University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music 1991 (University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor / Michigan, No. DA9125962)
  • Martin Claes: Antoine Busnois / Explanatory Notes , CD booklet Busnois , Van der Kamp & Kapel van de Lage Landen, 1993, Emergo Classics EC 3954-2
  • Clemens Goldberg: The chansons by Antoine Busnois: the aesthetics of courtly chansons , Lang, Frankfurt / M. 1994, ISBN 3-631-47079-7
  • D. Howlett: Busnois' Motet In Hydraulis. An Exercise in Textual Reconstruction and Analysis. In: Plainsong & Medieval Music No. 4, 1995, pages 185-191
  • Paula Marie Higgins: Antoine Busnoys. Method, Meaning and Context in Late Medieval Music , Clarendon Press, Oxford 1999
  • Christian Einsiedel: Antoine Busnoys - reasons for a reassessment , Grin Verlag, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-638-13636-1

Web links


  1. Richard Sherr:  Busnoys, Antoine. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): The music in past and present . Second edition, personal section, volume 3 (Bjelinski - Calzabigi). Bärenreiter / Metzler, Kassel et al. 2000, ISBN 3-7618-1113-6  ( online edition , subscription required for full access)
  2. Marc Honegger, Günther Massenkeil (ed.): The great lexicon of music. Volume 1: A - Byzantine chant. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau a. a. 1978, ISBN 3-451-18051-0 .