Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 August 2020
Key to the training of the boys was their master, who was responsible for their upkeep as well as their musical training. Men in such positions had typically themselves been through choirboy training and were highly accomplished musicians. The most notable choirmaster in the book’s period of interest, Jean Thorion, a native of Saint-Omer, offers a particularly astonishing example of the international draw of northern maîtrise training. In his youth, Thorion had been employed far away from his homeland in Florence, where he worked as a singer and tutor at the priory of the SS Annunziata. Here he was patronised directly by the Medici family, and Lorenzo Il Magnifico in particular. Apparently the most significant role within the northern maîtrise of this period was that occupied by the tenorist, in which role no one was more glittering than the former tenorist of King Ferrante of Naples, Grigoire Bourgois, a central figure in St Omer for a quarter of a century. The chapter also addresses the copying of polyphonic music, and most importantly the role in this capacity of the celebrated composer Jean Mouton, a native of the region.
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