Guillaume de Machaut


Guillaume de Machaut (ca. 1300-1377) is by common consent the most important French poet and composer of the fourteenth century. Patronised by the ruling families of France, Bohemia, and Navarre, he bequeathed a large legacy of lyric poems, several lengthy narrative dits, and an unparalleled corpus of monophonic and polyphonic songs, motets, and a Mass ordinary setting. Machaut’s status in his own day led to demand for copies of his works, and in his own lifetime and soon after a series of sumptuous complete-works manuscripts were copied that are unique of their kind. Several of these now figure amongst the precious possessions of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, which has now digitized many of these.

Literary and Musical Influence
In the field of literature, he developed several of the poetic forms and genres that dominated for generations to come and he was a major influence on Chaucer as well as Christine de Pizan, Eustache Deschamps, Alain Chartier, and Charles d’Orléans. His impact on the musical life of his age was equally profound; he is credited with the development of the fixed forms and polyphonic song, and with setting the first complete Mass cycle, and he is viewed today as the supreme representative of the Ars nova musical tradition.
The Machaut Manuscripts
As well as for the works they contain, the corpus of complete-works manuscripts is of great interest for their fine illuminations and these are now attracting the attention of a new generation of art historians. The Machaut manuscripts are valuable evidence too for those interested in the history of the book, and especially in book production in fourteenth-century Paris.
Historical Significance
Machaut’s close relationship with leading political figures of the day also makes him an intriguing figure for historians, for his biography has potential to shed light not only on cultural life within specific courtly circles and the tastes of princely and noble patrons, but also on social and political history in the age of the Hundred Years War.


***********************STOP PRESS!!!!!!!!************************

The Complete Poetry and Music of Guillaume de Machaut Volume 1 is out now!!!!

Volume 1: The Debate Poems is now available in print.

You can also enjoy the entire volume online via the Middle English Texts Website.

Edited and translated by R. Barton Palmer, with art historical commentary by Domenic Leo, and musical commentary by Uri Smilansky, the volume contains  Le Jugement dou Roy de Behaigne, Le Jugement dou Roy de Navarre, and Le Lay de Plour.




The Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript

Full colour facsimile with introductory study by Lawrence Earp, Domenic Leo and Carla Shapreau. Preface by Christopher de Hamel

"It is a vast manuscript of royal luxury, 390 leaves of parchment, 314 mm. by 220 mm., illustrated with 118 enchanting miniatures by a workshop of court illuminators led by the Master of the Bible of Jean de Sy.They include pictures of gothic chivalry and romance, with mythology and natural history. Music is included on 235 pages of the manuscript, with almost the entire corpus of the ballades, lais and motets of Machaut, as well as his great polyphonic setting of the Mass, the four-part Messe de Nostre-Dame.The manuscript has never before been photographed in its entirety or reproduced in colour."

"Vol. 1 introductory study (225 pages colour/mono), vol. 2 facsimile (789 full colour pages) on 150gsm matt art paper. Full size reproduction, hard bound in buckram, presented in hard slipcover."

Available now from DIAMM Publications.

The Art of Grafted Song: Citation and Allusion in the Age of Machaut by Yolanda Plumley

Available now from Oxford University Press

"Presents the first detailed exploration of citational practices in the song-writing tradition of fourteenth-century France. The first monograph-length study on the Ars nova chanson with new evidence about the emergence of the new polyphonic chanson. Provides new evidence about the circle of poets and composers who engaged with Machaut and created a new style of poetry and song. Explores little studied collections of lyrics and songs of the period and provides fresh insights and perspectives on Machaut's works."