Guillaume Dufay

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Dufay, Guillaume

(gēyōm` düfā`), c.1400–1474, principal composer at the Burgundian court. After his early training in the cathedral choir at Cambrai, he sang in the papal chapel in Rome (1428–33) and later in Florence and Bologna (1435–37). He was in the service of the antipope Felix V for seven years and was a canon of the cathedral of Cambrai, where he lived from 1445 until his death. He traveled a great deal, knew many musical styles, and was highly esteemed by his contemporaries. His music is in the northern French tradition, but contains some Italian and English elements. He composed three-part chansons, masses, and motets.


See studies by Hamm (1964) and Fallows (1982).

Dufay, Guillaume


Born about 1400; died Nov. 27, 1474, in Cambrai. Franco-Flemish composer; one of the founders of the Netherlands school. Worked in Italy and France.

From 1428 to 1437 he was a singer in the papal choirs in Rome and other Italian cities, and from 1437 to 1444 he served the duke of Savoy. From 1445 he was a canon and the director of music at the cathedral in Cambrai. Dufay was a master of both sacred music, notably three- and four-part Masses and motets, and secular compositions, including three- and four-part French and Italian chansons, ballads, and rondos, reflecting national polyphonic traditions, as well as the humanist culture of the Renaissance. Dufay’s art, which had absorbed the achievements of European musical art, had a great influence on the further development of European polyphonic music. He was also a reformer of notation, being credited with introducing white notes. His complete collected works were published in Rome (6 vols., 1951-66).


Borren, C. van den. Guillaume Dufay: Son importance dans l’évolution de la musique au XVe siècle. Brussels, 1925.
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