Guillaume Dufay, classical music composer

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Guillaume Dufay


One of the leading figures of the Burgundian School, Guillaume Dufay was the most influential composer of the 15th century. His works span many of the common forms of his day, both in sacred and secular music. Dufay's music was widely distributed, a remarkable feat since he died decades before the availability of music printing, and was absorbed by the succeeding generation of composers, such Ockeghem, Tinctoris, and Busnois.

Likely born in Beersel nears Brussels in 1397, Dufay was the illegitimate son of an unknown priest and a woman named Marie Du Fayt. Marie took her son to Cambrai, where they lived with a relative who was a canon of the cathedral there. Dufay's inclination for music was quickly noticed, and he apparently received thorough training at the cathedral, being listed as a choirboy from 1409 to 1412.

After a likely trip to the Council of Konstanz, which would be the first of several from Cambrai, between 1414 and 1418, Dufay became a subdeacon at the Cambrai Cathedral. However, he did not remain long in his hometown. In 1420, Dufay made the first of his excursions south, traveling to Remini and possibly Pesaro. During this period, he likely worked for the Malatesta family, though there is no record of his employment there. Four years later, Dufay returned to Cambrai because of illness, but departed for Italy again in 1426. Traveling this time to Bologna, he entered the service of Cardinal Louis Aleman, the papal legate, and later became a deacon, then a priest. In 1428, he left Bologna for Rome, and became a member of the Papal Choir. Growing tension between the papacy and the Council of Basel, however, eventually drove Dufay from Rome. In 1434, he was appointed maistre de chappelle in Savoy to Duke Amédée VIII. Yet, the following year he was once again serving the papacy in Florence.

The widening gulf between the factions of the Catholic Church in the 1430s ultimately forced Dufay to return to Cambrai in 1439. He remained in his homeland for the following decade, working in the service of the Duke of Burgundy. However, with the abdication of the last antipope in 1449, and the fissure in the Church beginning to mend, Dufay once again ventured south. Visiting Turin in 1450, and Savoy in 1452, Dufay remained in Italy for several years, evidently looking for employment that would keep him there. However, in 1458, he returned for the final time to Cambrai.

Appointed as canon of the cathedral in Cambrai, Dufay reestablished his connections with the court of Burgundy, for whom he continued to compose music. After an illness lasting several weeks, Dufay died on November 27, 1474.

Composer Title Date Action
Guillaume Dufay Adieu Ces Bons Vins de Lannoys 08/04/2013 Play Add to playlist
Guillaume Dufay Apostolo glorioso 08/04/2013 Play Add to playlist
Guillaume Dufay Nuper rosarum flores 08/04/2013 Play Add to playlist
Guillaume Dufay Kyrie, from Missa Resvellies Vous 07/27/2014 Play Add to playlist
Guillaume Dufay Gloria, from Missa Resvellies Vous 07/27/2014 Play Add to playlist
Guillaume Dufay Ballata "Resvellies Vous" 07/27/2014 Play Add to playlist
Guillaume Dufay Ave Maris Stella 07/27/2014 Play Add to playlist
Guillaume Dufay Ce Jour de L’an 01/25/2017 Play Add to playlist