LE JEUNE, Claude

LE JEUNE, Claude
(c. 1528-1600)
Claude Le Jeune, a prolific and influential Protestant French composer, was an advocate of musique mesuree a l'antique and an outspoken participant in France's religious controversies. Born in Valenciennes, Le Jeune produced his first known publications in 1552. During his career after 1560, he enjoyed the protection and support of many Huguenot nobles such as William of Orange and Henri of Navarre. He quickly developed an international reputation to rival that of his fellow composers, Jacobus Clemens non Papa* and Orlando di Lasso.* By 1564 he had settled in Paris. Because of his opposition to the Cath­olic League, Le Jeune was forced to flee Paris and take refuge at La Rochelle in 1589. His return to Paris is indicated by references to his service to Henri IV in the king's records from 1596 and 1600.
Le Jeune participated in the Academie de poesie et de musique, an intellectual group dedicated to humanist ideals and to the search for a balanced union of poetry and music. The Academie, in an attempt to revive the manner of ancient Greek music, developed a style in which music closely followed the natural rhythms of its text. Le Jeune's Revecy venir du printemps is perhaps the best known example of this musique mesuree style. Music theory was also of interest to Le Jeune. He experimented with tetrachords drawn from Greek music theory and employed the theoretical ideas of Gioseffe Zarlino in the organization of several of his works. His Dodecacorde consists of twelve psalm settings, each psalm based upon a different one of Zarlino's twelve modes.
Le Jeune's compositions include both sacred and secular works and range in style from traditional Flemish polyphony to the more experimental musique mesuree. Among his works are 347 psalm settings, 146 airs, sacred and secular chansons, Italian madrigals, motets, a mass, and three instrumental fantasias.
Le Jeune's contribution as a composer was manifold. His significance to French Protestantism can be seen in the lasting popularity of his psalm settings, which were used throughout the seventeenth century. His compositions served as an inspiration for much later French sacred music. And his innovations in handling the relationship between text and music provided a model not only for French music but also for Claudio Monteverdi in his Scherzi musicali.
S. Sadie, ed., The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 6th ed., 1980.
Tucker Robison

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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