Muris, Johannes de (original French rendering may have been Jehan des Murs, de Murs, de Meurs, etc.)

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Muris, Johannes de (original French rendering may have been Jenan des Murs, de Murs, de Meurs, etc.)

Muris, Johannes de (original French rendering may have been Jenan des Murs, de Murs, de Meurs, etc.), important French music theorist, astronomer, and mathematician; b. in the diocese of Lisieux, Normandy, c. 1300; d. c. 1351. He was long confused with Julian des Murs, a Master of the Children of the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris (c. 1350), who later served as secretary to Charles V of France; it seems most likely, however, that the 2 were close relatives. Johannes de Muris is listed as a baccalaureate student in the Faculty of Arts in Paris in 1318. During the next few years he was active in Evreux and Paris. He was associated with the Coll. de Sorbonne in Paris, where he achieved the academic degree of Magister. In 1326–27 he was at the monastery of Fontevrault (Maine-et-Loire); it is known that Julian des Murs was his clerk at this time. In 1332–33 he was in Evreux, then returned to Paris, where he was again associated with the Sorbonne (1336–37). From 1338 to 1342 he was in service at the court of the King of Navarra, Philippe d’Evreux. In 1342 he was one of the 6 canons of the collegiate church in Mezieres-en-Brenne (Indre). In 1344 he went, at the invitation of Pope Clement VI, to Avignon, where he participated in the conference on the reform of the calendar. There is extant a letter in verse which he wrote to Philippe de Vitry.

The writings by Muris pose problems; titles and versions of the various works attributed to him are questionable. Those that appear authentic are as follows: Ars novae musicae or Notitia artis musicae (1321; although he gave it the title Summa musicae, the work is always known by the 2 preceding titles in order to avoid confusion with a spurious work of the same name); Questiones super partes musicae or Compendium musicae practicae (c. 1322; apparently a condensed version of the 2nd book of the Ars novae musicae)’, Musica speculativa secundum Boetium (June 1323). Some scholars also attribute to him Libellus cantus mensurabilis (secundum Johannes de Muris) (c. 1340) and Ars contrapuneti secundum Johannes de Muris (after 1340). The Speculum musicae (c. 1325), long attributed to Muris, has been proved to be a work by Jacques de Liège.


R. Hirschfeld, j.d.M.: Seine Werke und seine Bedeutung als Verfechter des Classischen in der Tonkunst: Eine Studie (Leipzig, 1884); W. Grossmann, Die einleitenden Kapitel des Speculum Musicae von J. d.M.: Ein Beitrag zu Musikanschauung des Mittelalters (Leipzig, 1924; erroneous in ascribing the authorship of Speculum musicae to Muris); U. Michels, Die Musiktrak-tate des J. d.M. (Wiesbaden, 1970).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis Mclntire