Firminus Caron

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Aliases: F. Caron; P. Caron


Flourised: 1460–75


French composer. He was one of the most successful composers of his time, to judge from the distribution of several early songs and the high praise given him by Tinctoris. His first name comes only from references in three different treatises by Tinctoris (CSM, xxii/2, 1975, pp.13, 156, 176). The ascriptions for his music all read simply ‘Caron’ apart from ‘F. Caron’ in the case of the mass L'homme armé in I-Rvat S Pietro B80 (assertions that it reads ‘P. Caron’ are definitely wrong; and it cannot stand for ‘Filippo’). Even though Tinctoris occasionally made odd mistakes, the endorsement of his view in the S Pietro manuscript surely makes it idle to propose that he had a different first name; and that means that no direct documentation of the composer's life is known. There was a singer ‘primus huius ecclesie musicus Firminus le Caron’ at Amiens Cathedral in 1422 (F-AM 516, f.183, an 18th-century copy of earlier documents; facs. in Thomson, 1959, facing p.15); that is probably too early to be the composer, but might have been his father. It is reasonable to suggest that the composer may himself be from Amiens, where Firmin was a popular name.

Indirect evidence of an association between Caron and Dufay comes from Compere's Omnium bonorum plena (?1472), primarily praising Du Fay but including Caron among the musicians named; and in 1472–3 a mass of his was copied at Cambrai (Houdoy, 200). The style of his mass L'homme armé and of his song Du tout ainsy strongly reflects that of Du Fay. He was treated as an established master by Tinctoris from 1473: Tinctoris named him alongside Ockeghem, Busnoys and Regis as ‘the most outstanding of all composers I have heard’, though he also reported the opinion that Caron and several other composers were poorly educated – minime litteratos. Later, generally approving, references to him appear in the writings of Hothby, Gaffurius, Aaron, Heyden, Coclico and Hermann Finck (1556).

View the Wikipedia article on Firminus Caron.

List of choral works

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