A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Fevin, Antoine


FEVIN, Antoine, composer of the 16th century, whose works entitle him to a position amongst his contemporaries second alone to that of Josquin Deprés. We have only a few vague conjectures as to the actual circumstances of his life. Burney mentions Orleans as his birthplace, and later historians have accepted his statement. Indeed, there is little reason to dispute it, unless the existence of Fevin's compositions in MS. in the cathedral at Toledo, and the opinion of Spanish musicians, can make him a Spaniard, as Gevaert and Eslava would have him to be. There are some books of masses in the Vienna library containing three by 'Anthonius Fevin, pie memorie.' Ambros, in his History of Music (iii. 274) shows that the date of these books lies between 1514 and 1516, and assuming that Fevin died about this time, and moreover (as Glarean leads us to infer) that he died quite young, places his birth about 1490. We may, at any rate, accept these dates as approximately true, and at once see that it is scarcely correct to call Fevin a contemporary of Josquin. Although he died a few years before the great master, he was probably born 40 years after the date of Josquin's birth. Had it not been for his premature death, might not the 'Felix Jodoci æmulator,' as Glarean calls him, have lived on to work by the side of Lassus and share with him the glory of a brighter period? Surely there was in 'that noble youth, whose modesty was equal to his genius ' (again we quote Glarean), every element of greatness, except perhaps physical strength, requisite for making his name stand with those of Clement and Gombert in the gap between Josquin and Lassus. But although Fevin can never be the hero of any chapter in musical history, there is little doubt that when the compositions of his time become once more generally known, the few works which he has left behind him will find favour as soon as any, on account of the peculiar charm which veils his most elaborate workmanship, and the simplicity of effect which seems to come so naturally to him, and so well agrees with the personal character for which Glarean admired him. We give the following list of his works, and the various collections in which they appear:—(1) 3 masses, 'Sancta Trinitas,' 'Mente tota,' and 'Ave Maria,' from a book of 5 masses (Petrucci, Fossombrone 1515). The only known copy of this work, with all the parts, is in the British Museum. Burney has given two beautiful extracts from the 1st mass in his History. (2) 3 masses, 'Ave Maria,' 'Mente Tota,' and 'De Feria,' in 'Liber quindecim Missarum' (Andreas Antiquis, Rom. 1516), a copy of which is in the Mazarin Library at Paris. (3) 6 motets from the 1st book of the 'Motetti della corona' (Petrucci, Fossombrone 1514). (4) A motet, 'Descende in hortum meum,' and a fugue, 'Quæ es ista,' from the 'Cantiones selectae ultra centum' (Kriesstein, Augsburg 1540). (5) 2 lamentations, 'Migravit Juda' and 'Recordare est,' from the collection by Le Roy and Ballard, Paris 1557. (6) Detached movements from masses in Eslava's 'Lira-sacro-Hispana.' (7) 1 magnificat from Attaignant's 5th book for 4 voices, and 2 motets from his 11th book (Paris 1534). (8) 1 piece in the 'Bicinia Gallica, etc.' (Rhau, Wittenberg 1545). (9) 3 masses, 'O quam glorifica luce,' 'Requiem,' and 'Mente tota,' in the 'Ambraser Messen' at Vienna, and 3 MS. motets in same library. (10) A mass, 'Salve sancta parens,' the only copy of which is in the Royal Library at Munich. There is a song of his, 'Je le l'airray,' in the Harleian MSS. 5242; and fragments of two masses in Burney's musical extracts, Add. MSS. 11,581-2—both in the British Museum.