Jablonski, Marek (Michael)


Jumilhac, Pierre-Benoît de



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Jumilhac, Pierre-Benoît de


(b Château de St Jean-Ligourre, nr Limoges, 1611; d Paris, 1682, probably 21 March, but possibly 22 March or 21 April). French ecclesiastic and theorist. After studying in Bordeaux, he became a novice of the Benedictine order in the Congregation of St Maur at St Remi, Reims, in 1629 and professed to that order on 6 April 1630. Following his studies in Reims, Jumilhac travelled to Rome. On returning to France he was appointed prior of St Julien, Tours (1647), superior first at Chelles and then (1651) at St Nicaise, Reims, and after a brief stay in Toulouse, assistant to the head abbot of his congregation (1654). He next spent some years as prior at St Corneille in Compiègne (from 1660) and at St Fiacre before retiring to the abbey of St Germain-des-Prés in 1666. It was while he was there that he produced his major work devoted to music, an extensive treatise on plainchant entitled La science et la pratique du plain-chant, où tout ce qui appartient à la pratique est étably par les principes de la science, et confirmé par le témoignage des anciens philosophes, des pères de l'église, et des plus illustres musiciens (Paris, 1673, ed. T. Nisard and A. Le Clercq, Paris, 1847; the original edn is incorrectly attributed to Jacques Le Clerc in several early sources). The work is based on a systematic review of the principles, theory and history of chant, all in the interest of better performance. Of particular note in the treatise are the parts devoted to mensuration and modality; the former deals with unmeasured time values and the role of accent in chant as well as with the metric nature of certain portions of chant, where Jumilhac advocated a new notation, and in the latter he advanced a system of 12 modes. The treatise was well thought of in its day, and references to it are not infrequent in 18th-century sources.

Even if he took much of his inspiration from the writings of Le Clérc, Jumilhac is distinguished from him by a fine sense of historical methodology reminiscent of that brought to bear by Dom Jean Mabillon. His work is dominated by a critical approach and the study of his sources, and is more valuable for its method than its contents, its propositions rather than its results (which are identical with those of Jacques Le Clerc). Nonetheless, Jumilhac contributed to the purification movement deriving from the research into the liturgy undertaken by the Maurists. That pretext concealed the more or less avowed intention of returning to the forms and practices of a Christian antiquity supposed to be endowed with every perfection.




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