Pierre de Manchicourt

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Aliases: Pierre de Mancicourt; Pierre de Manchicurti


Born: c. 1510, Béthune (then County of Artois, Habsburg Netherlands; now Pas-de-Calais, France)

Died: 5 October 1564, Madrid


Few records of Manchicourt's life survive: what we know of his life and work is obtained primarily from publications of his works. The earliest known information indicates that in 1525 he was a choirboy at Arras. By 1539, he was provost at the cathedral in Tours, where he would have had access to a considerable library of the works of the great master, and previous incumbent, Johannes Ockeghem. For at least nine years, from 1545 to 1554, he held the post of maître de chapelle at Nôtre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai; Nicolas Gombert, whose compositional influence is clearly evident in much of Manchicourt’s output, was a canon of the Cathedral throughout Manchicourt’s tenure. On the death of the incumbent, Nicolas Payen, in 1559, Manchicourt was appointed maestro de capilla flamenca (master of the Flemish chapel) at the court of Philip II in Madrid, which post he held until his death five years later. He was succeeded in 1565 by Jean de Bonmarché, continuing an unbroken line of Flemish incumbents stretching back to Marbrianus de Orto in 1512.

The fact that Pierre Attaingnant, publisher of the French Royal Court, devoted his fourteenth and final volume of motets in 1539 entirely to Manchicourt's work (an honour emulated by Flemish publishers Susato and Phalèse in 1545 and 1554 respectively) bears testament to the composer's reputation in his day. Around the time of his death, Manchicourt's highly polyphonic style of composition rapidly went out of fashion — a fate shared with his contemporaries Gombert, Jacobus Clemens and Thomas Crecquillon — as the liturgical reforms of the Council of Trent took hold, marking the transition from the High Renaissance to the less florid Late-Renaissance style of Victoria and Palestrina.

Click here to search for this composer on CPDL

View the Wikipedia article on Pierre de Manchicourt.

List of choral works

Sacred works

Manchicourt’s sacred works appear in more than fifty printed collections and at least twenty hand-copied manuscripts, dating from 1532 through to the late 16th century. His surviving sacred output consists of nineteen masses, a mass section, a Magnificat, 71 motets and two chansons spirituelles. A further nine sacred works — polychoral psalm settings — are contained in a degraded manuscript in Zaragoza (E–Zvp Armario C-3, MS 14) whose contents are not documented.

Masses, mass section, Magnificat

Manchicourt’s surviving complete masses consist of eighteen settings of the Mass Ordinary and a setting of the Ordinary and Propers of the Mass for the Dead. Most of the former are parody masses, based either on his own motet (three settings) or on sacred or secular works by other Franco-Flemish composers (eleven settings). Two mass settings are based on unidentified models, and the remaining two use Gregorian chant as their basis (likewise the Missa de Requiem). As was common practice, the final Agnus Dei of many of the mass settings includes one or two additional voice parts: such cases are indicated by a number in parentheses.

  • Missa de Requiem 5vv — using chant settings of the Ordinary and Propers of the Mass for the Dead (Parisian Rite) as a cantus firmus, similar to Richafort's Requiem
  • Domine Deus 2vv — mass fragment published in a collection of 2vv works [Gardano, RISM 1543/19] that includes mass fragments from other composers
  • Magnificat secundi toni 4(5)vv — alternating verses of polyphony and Tone II chant, published in a collection of Magnificat settings [Attaingnant, RISM 1534/7]

1. Grove identifies no model, but there is very clear motivic correlation with Sermisy’s motet that was first published in 1539 and thus pre-dates the mass (which is annotated ‘1547’ in its source). Manchicourt based three other mass settings on works by Sermisy.
2. Despite Grove’s attribution, there appears to be no such motet by Guillaume Le Heurteur among his known works, nor any other surviving setting of Ego flos campi that predates the mass (whose only surviving source dates from c.1545–55) and resembles its motifs.
3. Although Grove states that Nicolas Gombert’s five-voice chanson of the same name is the model, the motifs in the mass more closely resemble Benedictus Appenzeller's four-voice setting: most notably, the opening phrase of the Kyrie — where direct quoting of the model is to be expected — is identical to the opening phrase of Appenzeller’s chanson. Thomas Crecquillon wrote a five-voice mass setting on the same Appenzeller chanson.

Latin sacred motets

The 71 sacred motets attributed to Manchicourt include one with doubtful attribution (^^), four with doubtful attribution to another composer (^), five with unresolved conflicting attribution (?), and two contrafacta of other Manchicourt motets (°).

Chansons spirituelles

These two chansons are a French paraphrase of Psalm 130, and appear in one printed source as two partes of a single work:

Summary of sacred works available at CPDL (listed automatically)

Secular works

Manchicourt's surviving secular output includes three dedicatory motets, and fifty French chansons that appear in at least sixteen publications (including one devoted entirely to Manchicourt's works).

Latin dedicatory motets

  • Nunc enim si centum 4vv (2.p. Ne dubitatis; 3.p. Innumeras unus) – in praise of Charles V
  • Nil pace est melius 5vv (2.p. Vive igitur felix) – in celebration of a treaty restoring possessions to Duke Moritz of Saxony
  • O decus, o patrie lux 5vv (2.p. Salve, pontificum) — in praise of Cardinal Granvelle, patron of the arts, to whom Manchicourt dedicated his 1554 volume of motets


Summary of French chansons available at CPDL (listed automatically)



Three of the pre-eminent music publishers of the mid-16th century each devoted a volume solely to Manchicourt’s works:

Two significant manuscripts of his works are held in the library of the Benedictine monastery in Montserrat, Catalunya:

  • Montserrat, Biblioteca del Monestir, MS 768 ‘Douze messe musicales composees par M.P. de Manchicourt’ (Brussels, c.1545–55) — from the court of Mary of Hungary (daughter of Philip the Fair and Juana of Spain, and Regent of the Netherlands 1531–55); contains twelve of his nineteen mass settings
  • Montserrat, Biblioteca del Monestir, MS 772 ‘Liber quatuor missarum musicalium nec non aliquot carminum ecclesiasticorum Petre de Manchicourt’ (Madrid, c.1560) — possibly copied by the composer himself during his tenure in the Court of Philip II; contains four mass settings, one 6vv motet, seven 5vv motets and three 4vv motets

Manchicourt's works also appear in at least seventy printed collections published between 1532 and 1580, including the following that are catalogued at CPDL:


External links

Works by Pierre de Manchicourt in the Petrucci Music Library (IMSLP)