Gilles Binchois

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Gilles Binchois (right), together with Guillaume Dufay

Gilles Binchois, also de Bins, Binch, Binche, (* around 1400 in Mons (?); † September 20, 1460 in Soignies , Diocese of Cambrai ), was a Franco-Flemish composer , poet and cleric of the Renaissance.

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Binchois was the son of Jean de Binche († 1425?) And his wife Jeanne, née Paulouche († 1426?), Both highly respected citizens. At the end of the 14th century, the father was in the service of Count Wilhelm IV of the Wittelsbach family , who ruled Hainaut , and since 1417 in the service of his daughter Jacqueline von Bayern. In addition, he had a corresponding post at the church of Sainte-Waudru in Mons; he was also responsible for building a new chapel at St. Germain's Church. Gilles Binchois had at least two brothers: Andrij, who survived him, and Ernoul, who left two daughters.

Nothing is known about his youth. Binchois probably received his first training in the area around the Monser Hof, with its intensive cultural ties to the French and Burgundian courts. The earliest records in which he is mentioned can be found in the account books of St. Waudru, where he played the organ on December 18, 1419 . Binchois probably also received training as a choir singer there . He performed his organist services until 1423; on July 28th of that year he paid the city of Mons a sum of money for the privilege of being able to move to Lille , and then apparently left Mons.

He quickly came into contact with the English occupiers . He probably entered the service of William Pole, the Earl and later Duke of Suffolk (1396-1450). A document from 1427 reports that in 1424, after falling from his horse, Suffolk commissioned Binchoiz to write the rondeau "Ainsi que a la foiz m'y souvient", and that he received two rolls of red cloth. Binchois was probably in Paris at the time . The rondeau has not survived. In April 1425 Binchois accompanied the English count to Hainaut. As confidante of Count Humphrey of Gloucester, the Earl was to mediate in the escalating disputes between the Houses of Gloucester and Burgundy. A certain Guillaume Benoit reports that in a disagreement with two of the Count's Norman servants over the war in Hainaut, Binchois did not take sides with Gloucester, but with the art-loving Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy, who lived in legendary luxury . Under his reign, Burgundy experienced a phase of cultural prosperity. The musical obituary (“Deploration”) of the composer Johannes Ockeghem on Binchois states that Binchois was a soldier in his youth. This is entirely compatible with his previously described employment relationships, but for a musician and composer, serving with a weapon was hardly the focus.

According to Benoit, Binchois was at least a household name at the Burgundian court of Philip the Good in 1427. But because the payrolls from 1419 to 1436 are missing, it is not known exactly from which year he actually joined the Burgundian court orchestra in order to be an active member of it until 1452. He was nominally a member there until his death. The earliest evidence of his service there is his motet "Nove cantum melodie", composed for the baptism of Anthoine of Burgundy, son of Philip the Good and Isabellas of Portugal on January 18, 1431. In the text of this motet the members of the Court orchestra listed by name, including P. Fontaine and Binchois himself. However, since he was listed as the fifth oldest chaplain in the payroll of 1436 , he must have entered the court orchestra much earlier.

During his time at the Burgundian court, Binchois received considerable donations, including important ecclesiastical benefices : on January 7, 1430 at St. Donatian's in Bruges together with his first canonical , combined with a six-monthly residence obligation , on May 17, 1437 at St. Waudru in Mons, at the end of his Burgundian service in 1452 one at St. Vincent in Soignies and others. Around 1437 Binchois became honorary secretary of the Burgundian court. in June 1437 the Bishop of Cambrai raised him to the rank of subdeacon . The following years Binchois' were filled with his duties as a member of the ducal chapel, in whose hierarchy he rose steadily, and by his duties as a canon in Bruges. Usually the duke traveled with his chapel; Binchois accompanied him whenever possible. On January 7, 1438, in Bruges, Binchois took part in the election of Jean of Burgundy, Philip the Good's stepbrother, as provost of St. Donatian. On May 29 of the same year he received payment for a book with “Passion ennouvelle maniere” (not recorded). In addition, a note dated July 3, 1437 suggests that Binchois apparently also had the reputation of a magician or had corresponding connections: He procured a ring for the duchess for a toothache and received 28 sous . From March 3, 1449 Binchois and Guillaume Dufay took part in a meeting of the canons of St. Waudru in Mons, where Dufay had a benefice since 1446. There are indications of a closer acquaintance between the two composers from earlier times and of an encounter as early as February 1434 in Chambéry .

During his active years in Burgundy, Binchois was certainly not able to travel extensively on his own, while he probably held the benefices in question in absentia: only shortly before his death did St. Donatian breach the temporary residence obligation with the suspension of the income in question for Punished from 1459 to 1460. In 1452, the Duke Binchois conferred the title of provost of the collegiate Saint-Vincent in Soignies and at the same time a canonical. Soignies was known for his excellent music care and in this respect can only be compared with Cambrai and Condé. At the time of Binchois' also the composers Guillaume Malbecque (Guillermus Modatoris, ~ 1400–1465) and Johannes Regis owned canons and benefices at the monastery, Malbecque later being one of his executors. As provost, Binchois exercised worldly power. he was obliged to stay in Soignies for at least 32 weeks a year. From the end of February 1453 he belonged to the Burgundian chapel only on a pro forma basis, but continued to be paid until his death, probably as a kind of pension, so that he must have had considerable income in the last years of his life. He lived in a tenement house belonging to the monastery. The maid Belotte de Meskine and the young servant Martin served him.

Binchois fell seriously ill around September 5, 1460 and died on September 20. He left a substantial fortune. He found his final resting place in the choir of the collegiate church of St. Vincent (the tomb was removed in the course of construction works in the 18th century). His exact date of death and the regulations of the various inheritance and inheritance matters can be seen from the execution invoices. His heirs include his brother Andrij de Binch, other relatives and domestic staff. On Binchois' death, Johannes Ockeghem composed the "Deploration sur la mort de Binchois" and Guillaume Dufay, lamenting the loss of a friend, composed the rondeau "En triumphant de Cruel Dueil".

Binchois was not a priest ; at the Burgundian court this was not necessary for the service of a chaplain ; nor did he have a degree. The only surviving illustration of Binchois is the miniature (see above) in a manuscript from Arras from 1451 with the poem "Le Champion des dames" by Martin Le Franc (~ 1410–1461). It shows Dufay dressed in blue next to an organ and Binchois in a red skirt, leaning on a harp. Both are named, but certainly not reproduced realistically. In connection with another illustration, the art historian Erwin Panofsky put forward the hypothesis in 1949 that the “Portrait of Tymotheus” by Jan van Eyck represents Binchois. But this interpretation was countered by the fact that the sitter is not holding a sheet of music in his hand. This portrait is now seen as a self-portrait of van Eyck.


Gilles Binchois is, alongside Guillaume Dufay and John Dunstable, the third outstanding musical figure in the first half of the 15th century. What Martin Le Franc said for the first time in his “Le Champion des dames” in 1440, that Binchois was no less responsible than Guillaume Dufay for the development of a new, English-inspired style, has been part of the foundation of musical historical insights since Johannes Tinctoris . Binchois' melodic inventiveness is much admired to this day. Alongside Dufay, Binchois is the most prominent representative of the first generation of Franco-Flemish music.

Compared to other Burgundian composers, Binchois' very extensive work is divided into more than 50 manuscripts spanning a period of almost a century. The sources and the way he handled his work already give a clear impression of the composer's reputation. Binchois' work has, much more than Dufay's, been adapted in various ways and has been cited in various ways. As with other Franco-Burgundian composers of the 14th and 15th centuries, Latin-sacred counterfactures can be found particularly in southern German manuscripts , although the sacred aspect may have played a lesser role than the desire to adopt compositions whose incomprehensible texts contrast with Latin was exchanged, thus one came closer to a humanistic educational goal. Six of his chansons are intavolated in the Buxheim organ book , some of them repeated . In addition, the high reputation of the composer is also reflected in literary statements and statements by theorists, where he is always mentioned next to or in the wake of Dufay and with other composers. In contrast to Dufay's work, that of Binchois does not contain any recognizable Italian influence or settings of Italian texts.

For a long time, the main focus of Binchois' work was seen in the field of secular music (chansons and other pieces); nevertheless, the sacred works make up a considerable part here (Binchois' function as chaplain obliged him to do so); this has been handed down by representative sources. On the other hand, the importance of the Burgundian chanson art is based primarily on its 55 chansons, the clear musical form of which results from the use of the cadenza as a principle of order. The chansons tend to be of a uniform nature, while the spiritual compositions show a great variety. There is no evidence of a coherent cycle of ordinarium scoring, even if reconstructions of entire masses from individual sentences and sentence pairs have been suggested. Musically, Binchois' fair movements show a more conservative orientation while at the same time being free to design, while his chansons are characterized by strict economy in form, melody, rhythm and voice guidance. Overall, Binchois is more conservative in harmony than Dufay's development. Nevertheless, his musical language, influenced by the abundance of thirds and sixths of English art, is not inferior to that of Dufays. The freshness that characterizes many of his chansons has led the Deploration lyricist to call him the "father of happiness". But there is also deep melancholy in them, which was a basic feature of the epoch, as the historian Johan Huizinga has shown in his book Autumn of the Middle Ages .


  • Single and paired measuring sets
    • Kyrie 'angelorum'
    • Kyrie 'apostolorum' / 'de martiribus' / 'brevioris perfecta'
    • Kyrie [cunctipotens]
    • Kyrie 'de dominica' / 'de beata Maria'
    • Kyrie 'feriale'
    • Kyrie 'breve in simplici the'
    • [Gloria] 'Et in terra pax' and [Credo] 'Patrem omnipotentem'
    • [Gloria] 'Et in terra pax' and [Credo] 'brevioris imperfecta per medium'
    • [Gloria] 'Et in terra pax hominibus' and [Credo] 'Patrem omipotentem factorem'
    • [Gloria] 'Et in terra pax'
    • [Gloria] 'Et in terra pax'
    • [Gloria] 'Et in terra pax'
    • [Credo] 'Patrem omnipotent'
    • [Credo] 'aversi' / 'autenti triti irregularis'
    • Sanctus and Agnus Dei
    • Sanctus and Agnus Dei for low voices;
    • Sanctus and Agnus Dei [ferialie]
    • Sanctus and Agnus Dei
    • Sanctus
    • Agnus Dei
  • Psalms, hymns and magnificats
    • In exitu Israel ... Nos qui vivimus (Psalm 113)
    • Magnificat primi toni
    • Magnificat secundi toni
    • Magnificat tercii toni
    • Magnificat [quarti toni]
    • Magnificat sexti toni ad omnes versus
    • Magnificat octavi toni
    • Te Deum laudamus
  • Smaller spiritual works
    • A solis ortus cardine
    • Asperges me (1)
    • Asperges me (2)
    • Ave corpus Christi carum
    • Ave regina celorum
    • Beata nobis gaudia
    • Da pacem domine
    • Deodorant gracias
    • Dixit sanctus Philippus
    • Domitor Hectoris Paridia
    • Felix namque it
    • Gloria laus et honor
    • Inter natos mulierum (1)
    • Inter natos mulierum (2)
    • Nove cantum melodie / Tanti gaude germinis / Enixa meritis (for the baptism of Prince Anthoine of Burgundy on January 18, 1431)
    • Passions en nouvelle maniere (1438, lost)
    • Quem terra pontus aethera
    • Rerum conditor respice
    • Salve sancta parens (1)
    • Salve sancta parens (2)
    • Sancti Dei omnes
    • Ut queant laxis
    • Veneremur virginem
    • Veni Creator Spiritus
    • Virgo rosa venustatis
    • Vox de celo ad Anthonium
  • Chansons and ballads
    • Adieu, adieu mon joieulx souvenir
    • Adieu jusques je vous revoye
    • Adieu m'amour et ma maitresse
    • Goodbye ma doulce
    • Goodbye mes tres belle amours
    • Adieu, mon amoureuse joye (ballad)
    • Ainsi que a la foiz m'y souvient (lost)
    • Amoureux suy et me vient toute joye
    • Amours et qu'as do en pensé
    • Amours et souvenir de celle
    • Amours merchi de trestout mon pooir (ballad)
    • Ay douloureux disant helas
    • Bien puist ...
    • C'est assez pour the dueil
    • Comme femme desconfortée
    • De plus en plus se renouvelle
    • Dueil angoisseus, rage demeseurée (ballad)
    • Depuis le congé que je pris
    • En regardent votre tres doulx maintiens
    • En sera il mieulx a voustre cuer
    • Esclave puist yl devenir
    • Filles a marier / [Se tu t'en marias]
    • Helas, que poray je plus faire
    • Jamais tant que je vous revoye
    • J'ay tant de deul que nul homs peut avoir (ballad)
    • Je loe amours et ma dame mercye (ballad)
    • Je me recommande humblement
    • Je ne fai tousjours que penser
    • Je ne pouroye estre joyeux
    • Je ne vis onques le pareille
    • Joyeux penser and souvenir
    • La merchi ma dame et amours
    • L'ami de ma dame is venu
    • Les tres doulx jeux du viaire ma dame
    • Leave m'a mandé salut
    • Ma dame que j'ayme et croy (ballad)
    • Ma léesse a changié son nom
    • Marguerite, fleur de valeur
    • Mesdians m'ont cuidié desfaire (ballad)
    • Mes yeulx ont fait mon cuer porter
    • Mon cuer chante joyseusement
    • Mon doulx espoir tres desireux las [...]
    • Mon seul et sovereign desir
    • Mort en merchy
    • Nous vous verens bien, Malebouche
    • Plains de plours et gemissements
    • Pour prison ne pour maladie
    • Qui veut mesdire si mesdie
    • Quoy que Dangier, Malebouche et leur gent
    • Rendre me vieng a vous sauve la vie
    • Se je souspire, plains et pleure
    • Se j'eusse un seul peu d'esperanche
    • Se la belle n'a le voloir
    • Seule esgarée de tout joyeulx plaisir
    • Aunt plus ayme, aunt plus suy mal amé
    • Tout a par moy afin qu'on ne me voie
    • Toutes mes joyes sont estaintes
    • Tristre plaisir et douleureuse joye
    • Vostre alée me desplait tant
    • Vostre tres douls regart plaisant
    • [without text]
  • Bergerette and combination chanson
    • A textless Bergerette with the combination chanson 'Filles a marier' / [Se tu t'en marias]
  • Inauthentic, doubtful, and ascribed works
    • Measurement cycle with a dripped Kyrie 'Omnipotens Pater'; Composer: presumably John Plummer
    • Missa 'Pax vobis ego sum'; anonymous, has been attributed to Binchois
    • Gloria 'Et in terra pax'; by Binchois or by Jacobus de Clibano
    • Gloria
    • Magnificat sexti toni; Composer: probably Guillaume Dufay
    • Alma Redemptoris mater; Composer: John Dunstable
    • Beata mater et innupta virgo; Composer: John Dunstable
    • Quam pulchra es; Composer: John Dunstable
    • Virgo prefulgens; Composer: probably Sandley
    • Ce moys de mai; Composer: Guillaume Dufay
    • Je cuidoye estre conforté; unproven attribution to Binchois, controversial
    • Va tost mon amoureux desir; Attribution to Binchois
    • Dame que j'ay loingtamp servie; Attribution to Binchois
    • Espris d'amours l'autremstritten jour me trouvay; Attribution to Binchois, uncertain
    • Faisons bonne chiere et lie; Attribution to Binchois, not contradicted
    • Soyés loyal à vo povoir; from Binchois or from the "school of Dufay"
    • Veuillés hoster de che dangier; Attributed to Binchois
    • Adieu ma tresbelle maistresse; Attributed to Binchois
    • Beata Dei genitrix; Attributed to Binchois, but closely related to English compositions
    • Bien viengnant ma tres redoubtée; Attributed to Binchois
    • Bien viegnés vous, mon prinche gracieux; Attributed to Binchois
    • De ceste joieuse advenue; Attributed to Binchois
    • Depuis le congié que je pris; Binchois' authorship probably
    • Je ne porroye plus durer; Attributed to Binchois
    • Je ne vis oncques le pareille; partly attributed to Binchois, partly to Dufay
    • Je vous salue, ma maistresse; Attributed to Binchois
    • Le tresorire de bonté; Attributed to Binchois
    • L'une tresbelle, clere lune; Attributed to Binchois
    • Mon coeur avoeque vous s'en va; Attributed to Binchois
    • Bien viegnés vous, mon prinche gracieux; Attributed to Binchois
    • Je n'atens plus de resconfort; Attributed to Binchois
    • L'onneur de vous, lady sans per; Attributed to Binchois
    • Tous desplaisirs m'en sont prochains; Attributed to Binchois
    • Va t'en mon desir gracieux; Attributed to Binchois


  • J. Houdoy: Histoire artistique de la cathédrale de Cambrai. Paris 1880. Reprinted Geneva 1972.
  • E. vander Straeten: La musique aux Pays-Bas avant le XIXe siècle. Volume 8. Brussels 1882.
  • A. Demeuldre: Le Chapitre de Saint-Vincent à Soignies, ses dignitaires et ses chanoines. Soignies 1902 (also as Annales du Cercle archéologique du canton du Soignies III. )
  • E. Closson: L'Origine de Gilles Binchois. In: Rivista musicale Italiana. No. 5. 1924, pages 149-151.
  • Wilibald Gurlitt : Burgundian chanson and German song art of the 15th century. In: Congress report Basel 1924. Leipzig 1925. Reprint Leipzig 1969, pages 153–176.
  • H. Funck: A chanson by Binchois in the Buxheimer organ and Locheimer songbook. In: Acta musicologica. No. 5. 1933, pages 3-13.
  • E. Dannemann: The late Gothic music tradition in France and Burgundy before the appearance of Dufay. Strasbourg and others 1936. Reprint Baden-Baden 1973.
  • J. Marix: Histoire de la musique et des musiciens de la cour de Bourgogne sous le règne de Philippe le Bon. Strasbourg 1939. Reprints Geneva 1972 and Baden-Baden 1974.
  • E. LiGotti: L 'Ars Nova e il madrigale. In: Atti della Reale accademia di scienze, lettere e arti di Palermo. Series IV, Volume IV, Part II. 1944, pages 339-389.
  • Erich Panofsky: Who is Jan van Eyck's “Tymotheos”? In: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. No. 12. 1949.
  • Heinrich Besseler : Bourdon and Fauxbourdon. Leipzig 1950. 2nd revised edition: Ed. Peter Gülke, Leipzig 1974.
  • Wolfgang Rehm : The chanson work by Gilles Binchois. Dissertation. University of Freiburg i. Br. 1952.
  • R. Wangermée: Flemish music in society in the 15th and 16th centuries. Brussels 1960.
  • J. Kreps: Gilles de Binche 1440-1460. Bruges 1960. In: Revue Hainaut-Tourisme. No. 83. Mons 1060.
  • W. Frei: Secular and spiritual - a memorial to the 500th anniversary of the death of Gilles Binchois. In: Revue Musicale Suisse. No. 101. 1961.
  • JA Boucher: The Religious Music of Gilles Binchois. Dissertation. Boston University 1963. University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan No. 6,400,373.
  • W. Marggraf: Tonality and harmony in French chanson from Machaut's death to early Dufay. Dissertation. University of Leipzig 1964. Summary with less consideration of Binchois: Tonality and harmony in the French chanson between Machaut and Dufay. In: Archives for Musicology . No. 23, 1966, pp. 1-31.
  • A. Parris: The Sacred Works of Gilles Binchois. 2 volumes. Dissertation. Bryn Mawr College 1965.
  • M. Picker: Cantus firmus in Binchois' “Filles à Marier”. In: Journal of the American Musicological Society. No. 18. 1965.
  • EL Kottnick: The Chansonnier cordiforme. In: Journal of the American Musicological Society. No. 20. 1967.
  • C. Wright: Music at the Court of Burgundy, 1364-1419. Dissertation. Harvard University 1972. Henryville, Pennsylvania 1979 (= Musicological Studies. No. 28).
  • M. Schuler: News on the biography of Gilles Binchois. In: Archives for Musicology . No. 33, 1976.
  • LM Throwbridge: The 15th-Century French Chanson: a Computer-aided Study of Styles and Style Change. Dissertation. Urbana, Illinois 1982. University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan No. 8,209,635.
  • E. Lowinsky: Jan van Eyck's Tymotheos: Sculptur or Musician? In: Studi musicali. 13, issue 1. 1984, pages 33-105.
  • H.-O. Korth: Studies on cantilevers in the early 15th century, cantilevers with interchangeable contratenores. Munich / Salzburg 1986 (= Berlin musicological works. No. 29).
  • David Fallows: The contenance angloise: English Influence on Continent Composers of the Fifteenth Century. In: Renaissance Studies. 1. 1987, pages 189-208.
  • Carl Dahlhaus : Bitonality or Octatonic? Divergent accidentals in Binchois' chansons. In: D. Berke, H. Heckmann (Ed.): Festschrift Wolfgang Rehm. Kassel 1989.
  • WH Kemp: Burgundian Court Song in the Time of Binchois. The Anonymous Chansons of El Escorial. Oxford 1990 (based on the author's dissertation Oxford 1971, with bibliography).
  • Christian Berger : Hexachord and Modus: Three Rondeaux by Gilles Binchois. In: Basler Jahrbuch für historical Musikpraxis. No. 16. 1992, pages 71-87.
  • I. Ragnard: Eléments por l'analysis des chansons de Gilles Binchois. Cadre poétique et language musical. In: Musurgia. No. 2. 1995, pages 34-53.
  • Astrid Opitz: Modus in the Chansons of Binchois (= Saarbrücker Studien zur Musikwissenschaft 18), Studiopunkt-Verlag Sinzig 2015, ISBN 978-3-89564-157-2 .

See also

Web links


  1. Hans-Otto Korth:  Binchois, Gilles. 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 .