Le Jeune, Claude or Claudin
Le Jeune, Claude or Claudin
Le Jeune, Claude or Claudin, important French composer; b. Valenciennes, c. 1528; d. Paris, Sept. 25, 1600. He most likely studied in or near Valenciennes; was in Paris by 1564. After Baif and Courville founded the Académie de Poésie et de Musique in 1570, he became a major figure in promoting the new style of composition known as “musique mesurée a l’antique,” in which the music is made to follow the metrical rhythm of the text in conformity with the rules of classical prosody. The type of poetry set to music in this manner was called ‘vers mesurez/’ and 33 examples of such settings by Le Jeune are to be found in the work entitled Le Printemps, publ. posthumously in Paris in 1603 by his sister Cécile Le Jeune. The metrical scanning is given at the head of each song. In the preface to this work Le Jeune is given credit for having been the first to achieve the “mating of ancient rhythm and modern harmony”; if not the first, he was at least, together with his contemporary and friend Jacques Mauduit, one of the earliest and most notable cultivators of this new and significant style. Having espoused the Huguenot cause during the wars of the Catholic League, he was compelled to flee Paris during the siege of 1588; his MSS were saved by the intervention of his Catholic colleague Mauduit. After a period of refuge in La Rochelle, he eventually returned to Paris. He served as maistre compositeur ordinaire de la musique de nostre chambre to Henri IV in 1596. Le Jeune cultivated every variety of vocal music known in his time, such as French chansons in “vers rimez,” Italian madrigals, Latin motets, etc. Special mention must be made of his settings of the Psalms, of which 8 collections appeared between 1564 and 1612. So great was his renown even during his lifetime that a wood engraving dated 1598 bore the legend:”Le Phénix des Musiciens.” His best- known work is his setting of the Genevan Psalter a 4 and 5, publ. by Cécile Le Jeune in 1613. This simple contrapuntal setting of the Psalms was widely used in the Reformed churches of France and the Netherlands, and it was also publ. in a German tr. Some of these harmonizations even found their way into early New England psalmbooks, such as The Ainsworth Psalter (see C. Smith, ed., Early Psalmody in America, N.Y., 1939). A more elaborate setting of some Psalms, 12 psaumes de David, in motet style for 2 to 7 voices, was contained in the work entitled Dodecacorde, publ. at La Rochelle in 1598. In all, Le Jeune composed 347 Psalms, 146 airs (143 are mesurés), 66 secular chansons, 43 Italian madrigals, 38 sacred chansons, 11 motets, a Mass, and 3 instrumental fantasias.
(all publ. in Paris unless otherwise given): vocal: psalms:Dix pseaumes de David for 4 Voices, en forme de motets avec un dialogue for 7 Voices (1564; dialogue ed. in Monuments de la musique française au temps de la renaissance, VIII, 1928); Dodécacorde (12 psalms) for 2 to 7 Voices (La Rochelle, 1598; 3 in Les maîtres musiciens de la renaissance française, XI/1, 1900); Les 150 pseaumes for 4 to 5 Voices (1601; second ed., La Rochelle, 1608; 3rd ed., Paris, 1613; 4th ed., Amsterdam, 1629; 5th ed., Leiden, 1635; 6th ed., Paris, 1650; 7th ed., Schiedam, 1664); Premier livre, contenant 50 pseaumes de David mis en musique for 3 Voices (1602); Pseaumes en vers mesurez (26 psalms and a Te Deum) for 2 to 8 Voices (1606; ed. in Les maîtres musiciens de la renaissance française, XX-XXII, 1905-06); Second livre contenant 50 pseaumes de David for 3 Voices (1608); Troisième livre des pseaumes de David for 3 Voices (1610); 2 psalms for 5 and 6 Voices in Second livre des meslanges (1612; ed. in Monuments de la musique française au temps de la renaisance, Vili, 1928). Additional sacred vocal music includes: Octonaires de la vanité etet inconstance du monde (36 pieces) for 3 to 4 Voices (1606; ed. in Monuments de la musique française au temps de la renaissance, I, 1924); Missa ad placitum for 4 to 7 Voices (1607; ed. by M. Sanvoisin in Le pupitre, II, Paris, 1967); Second livre des meslanges (Magnificat, 3 motets, and sacred chansons) for 3 to 7 and 10 Voices (1612; also includes Psalms and secular works. Secular: Livre de meslanges (36 madrigals, 26 chansons, 5 motets, and a Latin echo piece) for 4 to 8 and 10 Voices (Antwerp, 1585; 13 chansons ed. in Monuments de la musique française au temps de la renaissance, XVI, 1903); (33) Airs mis en musique for 4 to 5 Voices (1594); Le printemps (33 airs mesurés and 6 chansons) for 2 to 8 Voices (1603; ed. in Monuments de la musique française au temps de la renaissance, XII-XIV, 1900-01); (68) Airs for 3 to 6 Voices (1608); Second livre des  airs for 3 to 6 Voices (1608); Second livre des meslanges (30 chansons, 7 madrigals, 3 airs, and 2 airs mesurés) for 4 to 8 Voices (1612; also includes various other works, both sacred and instrumental). INSTRUMENTAL: 3 fantasias in Second livre des meslanges (1612); also a Canzonetta, sacred chanson for Lute (1592), and 7 other pieces for Lute (1601).
E. Bouton, Esquisse biographique et bibliographique sur C. L.J. (Valenciennes, 1845); K. Levy, The Chansons of C. L.J. (diss., Princeton Univ., 1955); J. Hamersma, Les dix Pseaumes of C. L.J.: A Study in 16th Century French Psalmody (diss., Union Theological Seminary, 1961); I. MacMillan, The Calvinistic Psalmody ofC. L.J. with Special Reference to the Dodécacorde of 1598 (diss., N.Y.U., 1966); I. His, Les Meslanges de C. L.J. (Anvers: Plantin, 1585): Transcription et étude critique (diss., Univ. of Tours, 1990).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire