George de La Hèle

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Aliases: Georges de la Hele; George de la Helle


Born: 1547, Antwerp

Died: 27 August 1586, Madrid


George de La Hèle trained as a chorister at Antwerp cathedral before moving to Madrid in 1560 to sing in the royal chapel of Philip II, under the musical direction of Pierre de Manchicourt. Returning to the Low Countries in the 1570s for university study and subsequent appointments as maestro di capilla at Sint-Romboutskathedraal in Mechelen and Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai, La Hèle was appointed in 1580 to succeed Geert van Turnhout as maestro di capilla at the royal chapel in Madrid. He remained in that post until his death, whereupon he was succeeded by Philippe Rogier, the last in a line of Franco-Flemish incumbents stretching back to Marbrianus de Orto in 1512. Manuscripts containing much of La Hèle's compositional output were destroyed in a fire at the Palacio Real on Christmas Eve 1734, which may go some way to explaining his apparent obscurity in comparison to the more famous bearers of that important royal office. Only eleven works survive: eight masses, two motets, and a chanson. The chanson, Mais voyez mon cher esmoy, and his motet Nonne Deo subiecta erit anima mea were among the prizewinners at the prestigious Puy de musique d'Évreux composition competition in 1576. His other motet, Asperges me, Domine, and all eight masses (based on motets by Josquin, Lassus, Rore and Crecquillon) are contained in a volume published by Christophe Plantin in 1578.

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