Janequin [Jannequin], Clément
(b Châtellerault, c1485; d Paris, after 1558). French composer.
HOWARD MAYER BROWN/RICHARD FREEDMAN
Although it would seem reasonable to assume that Janequin received his earliest musical education in the choir school of his native town, no documents have yet been discovered to clarify the matter. The first certain notice of the composer dates from 1505 when he was a ‘clerc’ in Bordeaux in the service of Lancelot Du Fau, humanist, president of the court of inquests for the Parliament of Bordeaux, vicar-general of the archbishopric, canon of St André and St Seurin, and after 1515 Bishop of Luçon. Apparently Janequin worked for him until Du Fau's death in 1523.
In that year Janequin entered the service of Jean de Foix, Bishop of Bordeaux. The composer probably completed his studies leading to the priesthood about this time, for he began to receive a number of relatively minor and not very lucrative prebends (shortage of money was a recurring problem throughout his life). He was made a canon of Saint Emilion in 1525 and procureur des âmes (in charge of anniversary masses) there in 1526. In the same year he was made curé of St Michel de Rieufret and in 1530 curé of St Jean, Mézos, and doyen of Garosse. During this period in Bordeaux, he met the poet and musician Eustorg de Beaulieu, who described an evening with him at the home of a lawyer, where they sang three-part chansons until late at night.
Foix died in 1529 and the church administration declared all prebends vacant, leaving Janequin to seek a new means of livelihood. By then he enjoyed some fame as a composer: Pierre Attaingnant had published some of his chansons, probably including an undated volume devoted exclusively to his compositions. In 1530 Janequin had written the chanson Chantons, sonnons, trompettes to celebrate François I's entry into Bordeaux, on his way to the Spanish border to welcome his children back to France after their years of captivity as hostages. The success of this composition may have earned Janequin the title chantre du roi since he was almost certainly not regularly employed by the court.
In 1531 he served briefly as Master of the Choirboys at Auch Cathedral, but by the early 1530s he had moved to Angers. His brother Simon lived there and he had already had some contact with the area, for in 1526 he had been made curé of Brossary, and in 1527 chapelain of Angers Cathedral, prebends which apparently had not required his presence. In addition, in 1533 he was appointed curé of Avrille and from 1534 to 1537 he served as maître de chapelle at Angers Cathedral. For the years immediately following 1537 when Loys Henry replaced Janequin in the cathedral, there is no information concerning the composer's whereabouts. He probably stayed in Angers, for his name reappears in the archives there in 1548 when he is listed as an ‘estudiant en l'université d'Angers’. Although it seems very odd that Janequin should have waited so long before attending a university, he may simply have registered to enjoy certain privileges granted to students. Or he may have needed a degree in order to hold the more lucrative prebends; during these years he was plagued by financial difficulties because of a loan from his nephew, which he was unable to repay, even though he gave over all his income from his appointment as curé of Unverre, near Chartres. The resulting quarrel seems to have led to a complete break with his family. In spite of these troubles, however, the years in Angers, particularly the 1530s, were Janequin's most prolific, if his growing list of publications is an accurate guide. During that decade Attaingnant published at least four volumes devoted entirely to Janequin's chansons and possibly one, now lost, of his motets. The first of Moderne's Difficile des chansons volumes (1540) was also given over exclusively to Janequin's music.
He may have lived in Paris temporarily during the mid-1540s, but he did not settle there permanently until 1549, when he was inscribed as a student at the university. His chanson on the siege of Metz earned him the honorary title of chapelain to the Duke of Guise, but it was not until the 1550s that he became chantre ordinaire du roi and finally, during the last years of his life, compositeur ordinaire du roi, a title that only Sandrin before him seems to have held. Janequin made his will in January 1558, leaving his small estate to charity, not to his family, after payment of debts to his housekeeper, who had been working for him without remuneration; he died shortly thereafter. His career was unorthodox for a great composer in that he never held an important regular position in a cathedral or a court. This may explain the fact that no laments, either poetic or musical, were written on his death. The continuing popularity of his music was his greatest monument.
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