Besard, Jean-Baptiste

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Besard, Jean-Baptiste

Besard, Jean-Baptiste, French lutenist, anthologist, music theorist, and composer; b. Besançon, c. 1567; d. after 1617. He was educated at the Univ. of Dole (Licentiate and Doctor of Laws, 1587), and then pursued the study of medicine in Rome, where he also claimed to have studied with Lorenzini. In 1613 he inherited letters of nobility from his father. He was mainly active in the fields of law and medicine, but he also taught lute and composed. He publ. an exhaustive anthology, Thesaurus harmonicus (10 vols., Cologne, 1603), which includes works by some 21 composers, including some of his own. It also includes his valuable treatise on lute playing, De modo in testudine libellus, which was tr. into Eng. in R. Dowland’s Varietie of Lute Lessons (London, 1610). He also brought out a second anthology, Novus partus, sive Concertationes musicae (Augsburg, 1617), which includes works by some 12 composers, including several of his own. It also includes a rev. ed. of his treatise on lute playing as Ad artem testudinis, which appeared in a Ger. tr. as Isagoge in artem testudinariam (Augsburg, 1617).


J. Garton, J.-B. B.’s Thesaurus harmonicus (diss., Ind. Univ., 1952); J. Sutton, J.-B. B.’s Novus partus of 1617 (diss., Univ. of Rochester, 1962).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire