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Jehan Titelouze

Pipe Organ

(c.1563 - 1633)

Titelouze was born in Spanish Flanders and died in Rouen, where he had been an organist for almost fifty years. His two publications of organ music, "Hymnes d'Eglise pour toucher sur l'orgue, avec les fugues et recherches sur leur plain-chant" (1623) and "Magnificat ou Cantique de la Vierge, pour toucher sur l'orgue suivant les huit tons de l'Eglise" (1626), are the earliest attributed French publications of organ music, and earliest French examples of any kind since the tablatures of 1531. This distinction has rightfully earned Titelouze the title of "father of the French organ school."

Titelouze' organ settings, twenty in total, consist of verses of polyphony set for organ and intended to alternate with plain chant, as had been the custom with vocal polyphony. This polyphony is exceptionally dense, especially in the first publication, consisting of all manner of contrapuntal techniques formed into unified verses and compositions. In this Titelouze was old-fashioned in his preference for the older polyphonic style of the Franco-Flemish masters. However, his feeling for organ sonority and advocacy of specific organ construction show him also to have been a forward-thinking individual of great influence. This unusual combination of historical reflection and modern disposition can also be found in a later organist of some importance, Johann Sebastian Bach. ~ Todd McComb (6/94)

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