[source Grove's: P-A Gaillard, R. Freedman]
(b Besançon, 1514–20; d Lyons, 28–31 Aug 1572). French composer, music publisher and editor.
Nota praevia: Goudimel was not Palestrina's master, as older biographies often suggest.
He was a student at Paris University in 1549 when his first chansons appeared in print. In 1551 he became a proofreader with the publisher Nicolas Du Chemin, and from 1552 to 1555 he was Du Chemin's partner (although even by this later date he was still described as ‘estudiant en l'Université de Paris’). He played an important role as both composer and editor in the time he worked for Du Chemin. The Moduli undecim festorum includes as part of its liminary materials a Latin poem by Goudimel in which he counselled his readers to ‘buy this book with money, you will see (believe me) no uncorrected work’. His own music was well represented in this book as well as in others he prepared for his employer. Through Jean Brinon, to whom he dedicated his first book of psalms (1551), he met Ronsard, and he later set several sonnets and odes from Ronsard's Amours. His most fruitful years were from 1551 to 1558, when he published most of his chansons, psalms, motets, odes and masses. From 1557 he lived at the Huguenot city of Metz, where he worked with the poet and dramatist Louis des Masures on his first complete psalter (1564). He must have left Metz by 1567 for Lyons. He continued his editorial work during the last years of his life. In 1572 the Lyonnaise printer Jean II de Tournes brought out an edition of Arcadelt's chansons (L'excellence des chansons musicales) with spiritual contrafacta texts prepared by Goudimel (the book was reprinted in Geneva in 1586). He probably died as a victim of the St Bartholomew's Day massacres that between 28 and 31 August decimated the Huguenot population of Lyons
Goudimel is noted principally for his psalm settings. They are of three types:
- a free motet style, in which the Genevan melodies are generally used either as a cantus firmus or as motifs in imitative paraphrase;
- strict cantus-firmus settings in which only the first verse is set, the traditional melody appearing throughout in one voice (usually the superius) while the other voices act as imitative counterpoint to it;
- note-against-note harmonizations with the Genevan melodies (usually) in the tenor part.
Goudimel's Latin works – five masses, three Magnificat settings and ten motets – are extremely concise and concentrated; this is specially true of the masses ‘Audi filia’ and ‘De mes ennuys’. Many of these works set texts from the Catholic liturgy, and they share much with sacred music by French contemporaries such as Certon and Maillard. Consistently imitative in their textures and featuring clearly-profiled, triadic melodies, the musical style of these works is also recalled in Goudimel's more motet-like settings of French psalms. He also composed over six dozen secular songs and chansons spirituelles, works of intrinsic interest to anyone concerned with the history of French music of the mid-16th century: in these works, procedurally distinct from the psalm settings, his output strikingly reveals the continued interest of French composers in counterpoint and polyphonic elaboration of borrowed material.
Goudimel did not compose the melodies for the Psalter, as in older books often is suggested.
His simple harmonisations (note against note) always remained very popular, esp. for Church services (for which they, however, explicitly were not destined).
Below some alternative ways to perform his music, more 'like it must have been then...'
Performers: Oratoire du Louvre (dir. Florian Hollard) - 1996.
From CD Psaumes au temps de la Réforme 3D Classics 8016
Instrumental version of this 'sunday-morning' Psalm.