A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Mouton, Jean

1712167A Dictionary of Music and Musicians — Mouton, JeanJames Robert Sterndale-Bennett

MOUTON, Jean, French composer, born about the year 1475[1] in the department of the [2]Somme, pupil of Josquin, teacher of Willaert, musician to Louis XII and Francis I of France, canon of [3]Therounne, and afterwards, like Josquin, canon of the collegiate church of S. Quentin, in which place he died and was buried in 1522, the following words being inscribed on his [4]tomb:—

Ce gist maistre Jean de Hollingue dit Mouton, en son vivant chantre du Roy, chanoine de Therouaune et de cet eglise, qui trepassa le penultieme jour d'Octobre mdxxii. Priez Dieu pour son âme.

When Petrucci began to print music, Mouton was in his prime, and the edition of 5 masses (à 4) in 1508 is an early example of a whole book devoted to one composer. This book, which [5]Glarean found 'in manibus omnium' is now scarce, and Fétis thinks the copy of the [6]2nd edition in the British Museum the only complete one. Burney carefully examined the 4th [7]mass, and scored several movements, discovering no variety of measure or subject, no melody, no ingenuity of contrivance, no learning of modulation. Yet the masses were highly valued in their day, reprinted by other publishers[8] and much admired, according to Glarean and Le [9]Roy, by Pope Leo X, Giov. di [10]Medici. As for motets, Mouton saw 21 printed in the best collection of his time, Petrucci's Motetti de la [11]Corona. Posthumous publications continued for nearly 40 years, and the list of known printed works includes 9 [12]masses, about 75 motets and psalms, and a few French chansons.

The British Museum has a single voice-part (superius) of Mouton's 22 [13]motets printed by Le Roy in 1555, and happily a complete MS. score of the same collection. This gives many interesting pieces, the 'Nesciens Mater' (8 à) with 4 of the parts derived canonically from the others, the 'Quis dabit oculis' composed in 1514 on the death of Anne of Bretagne, Queen of France, some Easter pieces, 'Alleluia,' and 'In illo tempore,' and one for Christmas, 'Noe, noe, psallite,' on which Arcadelt afterwards wrote a mass.

Burney has scored, besides the mass movements, 3 [14]motets, and in this style of composition finds Mouton more smooth and polished than his contemporaries. 'Life in a court' can scarcely account for it. Most great musicians of the time had the same surroundings. Glarean, more reasonably, attributes to zeal and industry the rare facility which separated Mouton from his fellows. The numerous examples drawn from his works for the 'Dodecachordon,' and the evident pride with which Glarean [15]recalls the meeting in Paris, are evidence of the high value set upon the French composer. Had Mouton left no compositions of his own, he would still be remembered as belonging to a remarkable line of great teachers, Ockenheim, Josquin, Mouton, Willaert, Zarlino.
  1. Date proposed by Fétis. Mouton's first publication appeared in 1505.
  2. See 'Joannis Mouton Sameracensis … aliquot moduli'; Paris, Le Roy & Ballard, 1555 (Brit. Mus. A. 132)—an edition apparently unknown abroad, or the word 'Sameracensis' would not have escaped attention. Glarean merely calls Mouton 'Gallus.' Fétis thinks, from the inscription on the tomb, that Holling, a little town near Metz, may have been his birthplace. In that case 'Sameracensis' may refer simply to Mouton's residence at S. Quentin.
  3. Whence he removed, probably, when the English took the town in 1513.
  4. See 'Etudes St. Quentinoises' (S. Quentin 1851–62, etc.), tom. i. p. 302. Ch. Gomart, the author, took the inscription from a MS. of Quentin Delafons, but does not state where it is to be found. It is the only authority for the date of Mouton's death, and for his two church preferments.
  5. 'Δωδεκαχορδον' (Basilew 1548), p. 464.
  6. 'Missæ J. Mouton' (Fossombrone, Petrutlus, Aug. 11, 1515), containing 'Missa sine nomine,' 'Alleluia,' 'Alma Redemptoris,' another 'Sine nomine,' 'Regina mearum' (Brit. Mus. B. 15 [App. p.720 "K 1, d. 7."]).
  7. For Burney's examples from Mouton, and critical notes, see 'Musical Extracts' (vol. ii. pp. 104, 134, 137, 169) in Brit. Mus. (Add. MSS. 11,582). Most of the notes are incorporated in his History (vol. ii. p. 533).
  8. The 'Alma redemptoris' was reprinted, and a new one, 'dittos moy toutes vos pensées,' added in Antiquis' famous 'Liber quindecim Missarum' (Rom. 1516).
  9. See preface to work quoted in note 2 of previous page.
  10. 'A passionate lover of music … the sounds of which were daily heard floating through the palace, Leo himself humming the airs that were performed.' (Ranke's History of the Popes.)
  11. 8 in book i. (1514); 10 in book ii. (1519); 8 in book iii. (1519).
  12. Besides the six mentioned in note 6 of previous page and note 1 above, the 'Missa d'Allemagne,' 'Tua est potentla,' and 'Quem dicunt' were printed. Fétis mentions a MS. 'Missa sans cadence' at Cambrai. Zarlino speaks of a Mass 'Benedicam Dominum,' à 6 (Istitutioni Harm. pt. iv. p. 414).
  13. See note 2 on previous page.
  14. 'Quis dabit oculis,' 'Non nobis Domine,' composed in 1509 at the birth of Renée, daughter of Louis XII. Also 'Quam pulcra es,' which Burney likes so much that he gives the first movement in his History. This motet had in its own time been ascribed to Josquin.
  15. Speaking of it continually in the 'Dodecachordon.' See pp. 296, 320, 464. They conversed by means of an interpreter.