Pierre de Manchicourt

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Aliases: Mancicourt, Manchicurti


Born: c. 1510, Béthune

Died: 5 October 1564, Madrid


Few records of Manchicourt's life survive: information about 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. 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.

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 he bestowed on no other, and 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 Nicolas 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 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 Ceste une dure departie 4vv — on Sermisy’s chanson
  • Missa Congratulamini 4(6)vv — on an unidentified model
  • Missa Cuidez vous que Dieu 5(6)vv — on Richafort’s chanson
  • Missa De retourner 4vv — on an anon. chanson [Attaingnant, RISM 1528/6]
  • Missa Deus in adjutorium 4(5)vv — on Sermisy’s motet
  • Missa de Domina Virgine Maria 4(5)vv — on Mass IV, IX as in Liber Usualis
  • Missa Ego flos campi 4vv — on Le Heurteur’s motet? (see Note (1))
  • Missa Gris et tannet 4(5)vv — on Sermisy’s chanson
  • Missa Nisi Dominus 4(5)vv — on L’Héritier’s motet
  • Missa Noe, noe 4(6)vv — on Mouton’s motet
  • Missa Non conturbetur cor vestrum 4(5)vv — on his own or Gosse’s motet
  • Missa Povre cuer 4vv — on an anon. chanson [Attaingnant, RISM 1528/4]
  • Missa Quo abiit dilectus tuus 4(5)vv — on his own motet
  • Missa Reges terrae I 4(5)vv [E-Mo 768, c.1545–55]on Mouton’s motet
  • Missa Reges terrae II 6vv [B-Bcx 27087, c.1549]on his own motet
  • Missa Se dire je losoie 4(5)vv — on Gombert’s chanson? (see Note (2))
  • Missa Surge et illuminare 4(5)vv — on an unidentified model
  • Missa Veni Sancte Spiritus 6vv — on the Sequence for Pentecost
  • Missa de Requiem 5vv — using chant settings of the Ordinary and Propers of the Mass for the Dead from the Liber Usualis as a cantus firmus
  • 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) Despite Grove’s attribution, there appears to be no such motet by Le Heurteur, nor indeed any other setting of Ego flos campi that predates the mass and resembles its motifs.
(2) Although Grove states that Gombert’s five-voice chanson is the model, the motifs in the mass more closely resemble the four-voice chanson of the same name by Benedictus Appenzeller: 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.

Latin sacred motets

The 71 sacred motets attributed to Manchicourt include one with doubtful attribution (^^), one with doubtful attribution to another composer (^), four 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 parts 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 secular works available at CPDL (listed automatically)



Three of the pre-eminent publishers of the mid-16th century each devoted one of their volumes solely to Manchicourt’s works:

Two manuscripts that contain only Manchicourt’s 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 masses
  • 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 masses, one 6vv motet, seven 5vv motets and three 4vv motets

Manchicourt's works also appear in the following 16th-century printed collections catalogued at CPDL:

External links

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