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Pierre de Manchicourt
c.1510 - 1564
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P. de Manchicourt
Pierre de Manchicourt (c.1510 - 05/10/1564), a Franco-Flemish composer and singer, born in Béthune. From 1525 perhaps a choirboy at Arras Cathedral; later held posts at the cathedrals of Tours and Toumai, returning to Arras as a canon by 1556; in Madrid from 1559 led Philip II's Flemish chapel and perhaps also his Spanish chapel. His compositions include about twenty masses; over sixty motets; nine psalms; a Magnificat; and over fifty chansons, the majority Flemish but a few Parisian in style.
Source:Grove's dictionary of music and musicians and http://www.hoasm.org/IVA/Manchicourt.html
Manchicourt was a Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was born in c.1510 in Béthune, near Arras (Atrecht) in the French area of Flanders. He belongs to the fourth Flemish/Netherlands generation. It is supposed Manchicourt received his musical education as a choirboy at the cathedral in Arras. Indeed in 1525 he is mentioned as a choirboy in Arras. In 1532 Pierre Attaignant in Primus Liber viginti Missarum, published a composition by Manchicourt his “Missa Deus in Adiutorium”. From 1539 to 1545 he was choir-master at Tours Cathedral, thereafter in 1545 at Tournai Cathedral first music-teacher and some later Chapel-master, Maistre de Chapelle at Notre Dame . In 1556 he became Canon at Arras Cathedral. In 1557 Manchicourt was probably (one source) choir-master at Notre Dame in Antwerp. Finally, in the summer of 1559, he took up the position of Chapel-master to Philip II of the famous Capilla Flamenca in Madrid, Spain. De Manchicourt was the second in line of that distinguished Flemish musicians who directed during the period 1555 to 1637 this Chapel: Nicolas Payen (1512-1559), De Manchicourt, Jean de Bonmarchais (c.1520-1572), Gérard van Turnhout (c.1520-1580), George de la Hèle (1547-1587), Philippe Rogier (1561-1596) and Mateo Romero (1575-1647). It is interesting at this place to see the years they were in office in Madrid: Payen 1555-1559; De Manchicourt 1559-1564; de Bonmarchais 1565-1570; Van Turnhout 1571-1580; De la Hèle 1582-1586; Rogier 1588-1596; Romero 1597-1633. In 1560 Manchicourt travels back to the Low Countries to recruit boys’ voices for his Capilla. One of the youth is George de la Hèle , who later became Chapel-Master to Philip II (1582-1586). October the fifth 1564 Manchicourt died in Madrid. Similar to many Flemish composer of the early to mid 16th century, he wrote sacred music, Masses (19) , Missa de Requiem (1), Motets (73), Magnificat secundi toni (1), Ceremonial Motets (3), Psalms (9) and secular music Chansons (53). Lot of his work has been published by the most important publishers/printers at that time: Attaignant, Du Chemin, Phalèse, Gardano, Montanus & Neuber, Susato. A choir-book of twelve Masses, Douze Messe musicales composes par M.P., thus De Manchicourt, was produced at the court of Maria of Hungary in Brussels in the early 1550s and now stored in the Benedictine abbey of Montserrat. That means approximately 150 compositions have been already printed before de Manchicourt was appointed in Madrid! De Manchicourt’s motets are particularly interesting for they show the three separate stages of early sixteenth century motet development. In his earliest motets one can hear influence of Ockeghem (c.1425-1497); in his middle period works, the paired/double imitation style of Josquin (c.1440-1521); and in his late works the stylistic refinement, well-crafted melodic lines and strong imitation recall of Gombert (c.1500-c.1556). Manchicourt is of course an other excellent example of a Flemish composer from the Low Countries who learned his craft/skills and Art in the Low Countries, and then merged the Flemish style with other European elements by traveling to another regions in working, composing and performing there. So did a lot of famous and even far unknown Flemish predecessors and successors. De Manchicourt has to be regarded as the last great composer in the Flemish style of polyphony before the rise of the more homophonic manner of writing. Therefore Lassus (1532-1594) classified Pierre de Manchicourt as a very important and excellent composer, he wrote: “Autores musici praecipui et excellentissimi”! and so it is.
Author:Wim Goossens
Peccantem me quotidie
Period:Early Renaissance
Composed in:1539c
Musical form:Motet à 4 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin from a Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum
Label(s):Hyperion CDA 67604
Peccantem me quotidie is a motet from the Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum Ad Matutinum composed by Manchicourt for four voices (SATB). The Peccantem me quotidie is an old Responsorium, Respond which is still published in the old Liber Usualis page 1797 and is sung after Lectio VII in the third Nocturn. But Pierre de Manchicourt uses in this case the text of the Respond nr. 68 which is not published in the Liber usualis. This peccantem me quotidie is an old Responsorium. There are about 138 Responsoria de Officium Defunctorum, Responds from Office of the Dead known and used all over Europe during centuries in the Office of the Dead. They are all well ordered, this is number 68. The choice of texts and the order in which they occur in the sources vary according to local uses! Manchicourt has even used the belonging Versicle Commissa mea nr. 34. The same did Jacob Regnart ( c.1540-1599). See the remarks I made there. The choice of the texts vary according to local uses. This motet by Pierre de Manchicourt first appeared in Liber decimus quartus .XIX. musicas cantiones continent P. Attaignant. Mbs. 1539 and some later in the Primus Tomus P. Attaignant in 1545. Pierre de Manchicourt has written this Respond motet with the belonging Versicle of the Office of the Dead, in modest polyphonic imitative style, in a style like Obrecht (1450-1505) and Josquin (c.1440-1521) did. Manchicourt starts this motet with five bars in homophony. The motet in total contains 85 bars.
Author:Wim Goossens
Peccantem me quotidie et non me penitentem, timor mortis conturbat me, quia in inferno nulla est redemption. Miserere mei, deus, et salva me. V. Commissa mea pavesco, et ante te erubesco. Cum veneris judicare, noli me condemnare.
The fear of death overwhelms me, who sin every day and not repent: for in hell there is no redemption. Have mercy on me O God and spare me V. I dread my judgement and I am ashamed before Thee. When Thou shall come to judgement do not condemn me.
Contributor:Wim Goossens
Missa de Requiem
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1550c
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin Ordinarium Missae pro Defunctis
Label(s):ARS SACD 406
This Missa de requiem is for five voices.
Contributor:Tassos Dimitriadis
This Missa de Requiem consists out of:
- Introit: Requiem Aeternam
- Kyrie Christe Kyrie
- Graduale: Si Ambulem
- Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe
- Sanctus & Benedictus
- Agnus Dei I, II, III
- Communio: Lux Aeterna

The Missa de Requiem, Mass of the Dead is in the middle of the 16th century composed by Pierre de Manchicourt for five voices (SATTB). Requiem masses written by a lot of Flemish/ Netherlands composers are made up of different parts of the Ordinary of the Mass of the Dead, the texts of which remain essentially unchanged (Kyrie, Sanctus & Benedictus, and Agnus Dei), and of the Proper’s of the Requiem, Mass of the Dead whose texts do change according to the liturgical occasion. This was the normal liturgical practice in the region of northern Europe. Before the reforms of the Council of Trent (1543-1563) there were diverse alternative texts for the Proper’s of the Mass of the Dead including the Gradual Si ambulem in medio umbræ mortis, selected by Manchicourt for his Requiem. We already saw the use of this particular Gradual-text among others by Netherlands composers like Ockeghem (c.1420-1497), Divitis (c.1473-c.1528), de Févin (1473-1512), Prioris (c.1460-c.1514), Richafort (1480-1547), Claudin Sermisy (c.1490-1562), (Benedictus Appenzeller c.1480-1558aft) and Lassus (1532-1594). This use depends on and vary per region. For instance and on the other hand the Spanish Polyphonist and Engarandus Juvenis (16th Century) use in the Gradiual-text Requiem aeternam, page 1808 Liber Usualis nor did use the Gradual-text but other parts of the Proper’s for instance Tractus sicut servus like Pierre de la Rue ( 1460-1518). And we can mention and add the sequentia Dies Irae : Liber Usualis page 1810 which caused a lot of discussions whether or not this is a proper text belonging to the Service. In fact the Dies Irae is now and sometimes in the 15th and 16th Century (see Antoine Brumel c.1460-c.1513 and Jacobus de Kerle 1531-1591) an excellent plainchant which melody is often used.
The other parts – we mentioned already the Si Amulem - of the Proper’s in the Requiem used by Piere de Manchicourt are the Introit Requiem æternam, the Offertory Domine Jesu Christe and the Communion Lux æterna. All are still published in the Liber Usualis pp. 1806-1815. The Si Ambulem is today out of use. Manchicourt did not use the Dies Irae. In the Agnus Dei III de Manchicourt added at the end after requiem sempiternam: “et locum indulgentiae – and a place of pardon”. This phrase is no more in use according to the Liber Usualis p. 1815. I saw this addition for the first time. And with the “Quam olim Abrahae” last part of the Offertory de Manchicourt starts without a brake full integrated an imposing closure of this Offertory which takes in total eleven minutes.
Characteristic for the Mass of the Dead in general is the use of the original Gregorian chant the plainchant in the polyphonic parts, as cantus firmus or as a basis for some paraphrasing. In this Missa de Requiem Pierre de Manchicourt places the plainchant mostly in the upper voice the Superius, around which de Manchicourt composes four free moving voices. All parts of this Missa de Requiem start with the usual short plainchant and all have a beautiful polyphone improving. De Manchicourt uses an ingenious slowly-moving but continuous flowing transparent counterpoint in a masterly fashion. Not any hesitation is in this composition which is full of modest tense. Manchicourt uses fine well placed dissonant over the whole Missa de Requiem and this composition breaths a very serene sphere. I would say with this excellent fashion De Manchicourt unconsciously perfectly showing the skills of the Netherlands generations around Gombert (c.1495-c.1557).
One manuscript, copied about 1560 in Madrid, contains the Missa de Requiem of de Manchicourt, together with three other masses and some motets saved in Liber quator missarum musicalium nec non aliquot carminum ecclesiasticorum Petre de Manchicourt regie capelle magistro conscriptus et compositus equntur que in hoc libro continentur. This manuscript must have belonged to the repertoire of the well-known monastery of Montserrat (Montserrat 772, f.25v) in Spain, where this manuscript like more others is still preserved. The inscription on a part-book is made “ P. de Manchicourt faciebat “ 1560. Mend is the copy (1560) who was supposed to be made by Manchicourt I believe. In 1586 George de la Hèle (1547-1587), the Chapel-master at that time, had this Requiem Mass from that manuscript re-copied for his own use. As seen earlier, from 1559 to 1564 de Manchicourt was Chapel-master of Capilla Flamenca. De Manchicourt was the second in line of those distinguished Flemish/Netherlands musicians who directed and served the Chapel. Of course it is not surprising you will find more music-sources in Spain with compositions of Pierre de Manchicourt.
Another Flemish/Netherlands Géry the Ghersem (c.1572-1630) in 1602 assistant chapel-master in Madrid wrote on a inventory list in 1607 about the volumes of Montserrat: “Montserrat 772 is listed among books which are old and dilapidated, containing OUTMODED! Music”. What’s in the name.
Author:Wim Goossens
De profundis, clamavi
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1560c
Musical form:Motet à 5 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin from de Officium Defunctorum
The De profundis clamavi is a motet from the de Officium Defunctorum composed for five voices (SATTB). This De profundis clamavi is the text of Psalm 129. But on three places in the Liber Usualis this text is used in de Officium Defunctorum, Office of the Dead. First in the Exsequarium ordo Burial service, bearing the corpse to the church, page 1763, second in Ad Vesperas, Vespers page 1774 and third in the Lauds page 1805. It is without doubt Manchicourt composed this variation with the Office of the Dead in mind because he omitted the Gloria patri et filio which is of course not sung in the Office of the dead. The choice of texts and the order in which they occur in the sources all around Europe vary according to local uses! The more often in the Spanish region this text is used in the Office of the Dead see Pedro de Cristo (c.1550-1618) and Vivanco (c.1550-1622). Of course a lot of composers in that time composed on the plainchant De profundis: Mouton (1558), Clement (1559), Ducis (1542), Josquin (1520, 1521, 1539), Willaert (1550), Lassus, but nearly all of them used the Gloria Patri et filio. Thus it was not used in the Office of the Dead.
This setting by de Manchicourt is drawn from various manuscripts and printed sources. This motet is published in a only(?) surviving manuscript dated 1560 and found Montserrat files 772. ff.81v-85r. “Liber quatuor missarum musicalium nec non aliquot carminum ecclesiasticorum, Petre de Manchicourt. Regie capelle magistro conscriptus et compositus sequntur que in hoc libro continentur. P. de Manchicourt faciebat 1560.” This motet is written in an excellent imitative polyphonic counterpoint. De profundis starts symbolic with each voice in a descending line. The total motet, prima and secunda pars together contains 182 bars. Of course De Manchicourt uses flats and sharps to underline his feelings and uses some fine dissonant. The used low voices in the score reflects the mood of the text and the occasions of mourning on which this motet should be used in the meaning of De Manchicourt.
Author:Wim Goossens
De Profundis Clamavi ad te, Domine; Domine exaudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuae intendentes in vocem depractionis meae.
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine; Domine quis sustenebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est; et propter legem tuam sustinui te Domine.
Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus; speravit anima mea in Domino.
A custodio maturina usque ad noctem, speret Israel in Domino;
quia apud Dominum misericordia et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israel ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.

Out of the depths I have cried to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears attend to the voice of my calling. If you, Lord, shall mark our iniquities; Lord who shall abide it? For there is a mercy with you; and by reason of your law I have waited for you Lord. My soul has relied on His word; my soul has hoped in the Lord. From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy and with him copious redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Contributor:Wim Goossens
Peccata mea, Domine
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1560c
Musical form:Motet à 5 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin from a Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum
This Peccata mea, Domine is an old Responsorium. There are about 138 Responsoria de Officium Defunctorum, Responds from Office of the Dead known and used during centuries in the Office of the Dead. They are all well ordered, this is number 109 and the belonging versicle is Quoniam iniquitatem V. 190. You will find some similar text of this Respond and Versicle in sources in Verona (c.7370). De Manchicourt uses some alterations (vulgo text out of psalm 50) compared to the text of the Versicle.
But the used text is in accordance of that found in Verona. This Respond is written for five voices (SAATB) in fluent excellent imitative polyphonic style using sharps, flats and some dissonant. This motet is written in the height period of his artistic achievement. This motet is published in a manuscript dated 1560 and found at Montserrat files 772. ff.81v-85r. Liber quatuor missarum musicalium nec non aliquot carminum ecclesiasticorum, Petre de Manchicourt. Regie capelle magistro conscriptus et copositus sequntur que in hoc libro continentur. P. de Manchicourt faciebat 1560.
Author:Wim Goossens