Dunstable, John

Dunstable, John
born с 1385, England
died Dec. 24, 1453, London

English composer.

His life and career are almost completely obscure. After his death he came to be credited with the achievements of all his English contemporaries, including Leonel Power (с 1380–1445). He left at least 50 compositions, all for three and four voices and almost all sacred. Their full triadic harmony and frequent parallel motion in the voices represented an important innovation that influenced composers such as Guillaume Dufay and Gilles Binchois (с 1400–60), softening the austerity of 14th-century polyphony.

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▪ English composer
born c. 1385, Eng.
died Dec. 24, 1453, London

      English composer who influenced the transition between late medieval and early Renaissance music. The influence of his sweet, sonorous music was recognized by his contemporaries on the Continent, including Martin le Franc, who wrote in his Champion des dames (c. 1440) that the leading composers of the day, Guillaume Dufay and Gilles Binchois, owed their superiority to what they learned from Dunstable's “English manner.”

      Information about Dunstable's life is scanty. He was in the service of the Duke of Bedford, who was regent of France from 1422 to 1435 and military opponent of Joan of Arc. Dunstable probably accompanied his patron to France; his music was well known on the Continent. His epitaph referred to him as skilled in mathematics and astronomy as well as in music.

      Dunstable's influence on European music is seen in his flowing, gently asymmetrical rhythms and, above all, in his harmonies. He represents a culmination of the English tradition of full, sonorous harmonies based on the third and sixth that persisted through the 14th century alongside the starker, more dissonant style of continental music.

      Dunstable left about 60 works, including mass sections, motets, and secular songs; they are largely in three parts. In the cantus firmus tenors of some of his mass sections he frequently used the continental device of isorhythm (rhythmic patterns overlapped with melodic patterns of different length). In many of his works the treble line, rather than the tenor line, dominates; it may be freely composed, or it may carry an ornamented version of the cantus firmus, an English innovation. Some of his motets show double structure: building the polyphonic composition on two melodies, a plainchant cantus firmus in the tenor and a melody in the treble that appears with variations. This structure, possibly invented by Dunstable, became popular with later composers.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Dunstable, John — (ca. 1385 1453)    The outstanding English composer of the first half of the 15th century, famous not only in England but in Italy and elsewhere. He was a married layman but was closely linked to the great monastery at St. Albans and through it,… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Dunstable, John — ( 1385, Inglaterra–24 dic. 1453, Londres). Compositor inglés. Su vida y su carrera son casi desconocidas. Después de su muerte se le atribuyeron los logros de todos sus contemporáneos ingleses, entre ellos, Leonel Power (n. 1380–m. 1445). Dejó al …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Dunstable, John — (c. 1390, England – 24 December 1453)    Composer who is most frequently cited in continental music theory as the one responsible for bringing the English sound to European polyphony, that is, a texture governed by a strict syntax of consonance… …   Historical dictionary of sacred music

  • John Dunstaple — (or Dunstable) (c. 1390 – 24 December 1453) was an English composer of polyphonic music of the late medieval era and early Renaissance. He was one of the most famous composers active in the early 15th century, a near contemporary of Leonel Power …   Wikipedia

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