A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Perne, François
PERNE, François Louis, born in Paris, 1772, was educated in a maîtrise, and during the Revolution became a chorus-singer at the Opéra. In 1799 he exchanged into the band, where he played the double-bass. A mass for St. Caecilia's day, performed in 1800 at St. Gervais, secured him the esteem of musicians; and in the following year he published a fugue in 4 parts with 3 subjects, which placed him amongst the foremost masters of harmony of the day. It is not however by his compositions that Perne's name will be preserved, but by his laborious and erudite works on some of the most obscure points in the history of music. His expenditure of time, patience, and learning, in hunting up, cataloguing, copying, and annotating the most important sources of information, printed and MS., on the music of the Greeks and the Middle Ages, was almost superhuman. One instance of his devotion will suffice. After publishing his 'Exposition de la Séméiographie, ou Notation musicale de Grecs' (Paris, 1815), Perne actually transcribed the complete score of Gluck's 'Iphigénie en Tauride' in Greek notation. In 1811 he was chosen to succeed Catel as professor of harmony at the Conservatoire, but his 'Cours d'harmonie et d'accompagnement' was not so clear that of his predecessor. In 1816 he became Inspector-general of the Conservatoire, and in 1820 librarian, but in 1822 retired to the country, and resided near Laon. In 1830 he removed to Laon itself, but the air was too keen for him, and he returned to Paris only to die, on May 26, 1832. His last published work wa the 'Chansons du Châtelain de Coucy' (Paris, 1830) [Chanson], but the 'Revue musicale' contains many of his articles, such as 'Les Manuscrits relatifs a la musique de l'Eglis Grecque,' 'Josquin Depres,' 'Jerome de Moravie,' and 'La Musique Ancienne.' Perne left most of his notes and MSS. to the library of the Institut; and his books and annotated catalogues, bought in 1834 by Fétis, are now in the Royal Library at Brussels. His unpublished sacred works also passed into the hands of Fétis, but the library of the Conservatoire possesses the autographs of his choruses for 'Esther,' performed in 1821 by the pupils of the Ecole Royale de Musique (Conservatoire), his 'Messe de Ste. Cécile' (1800), his mass 'Vivat Rex,' for 4 voices (1816), a 'Veni Creator' for 3 voices, and the 'Offices,' arranged in 3 parts with the Plain-Song.
[ G. C. ]