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Carpentras (also Elzéar Genet, Eliziari Geneti) (c.1470–June 14, 1548) was a French composer of the Renaissance. He was famous during his lifetime, and was especially notable for his settings of the Lamentations which remained in the repertory of the Papal Choir throughout the 16th century. In addition, he was probably the most prominent Avignon musician since the time of the ars subtilior at the end of the 14th century.
He was born in the town of Carpentras, but nothing else is known about his early life. Sometime before 1505, he took ecclesiastical orders, since when he was hired in the Avignon chapel in that year he was called "clericus." He spent most of his life alternately in Avignon and Rome.
Evidently he was acquainted with Avignon bishop Giuliano della Rovere, for when the bishop became Pope Julius II Carpentras went with him to Rome, where he sang in the papal chapel. After a few years he left the chapel to work at the court of Louis XII of France, though little is known about him at this time; clearly he was composing large quantities of secular music, some of it quite irreverent, for when he returned to Rome in 1513 he specifically promised to stop writing it. He became master of the papal chapel in 1514, now under the Medici Pope Leo X, who was an enthusiastic patron of music and the arts. When Leo X died in 1521, Carpentras fled Rome for Avignon; the new pope Adrian VI was uninterested in music, if not actively hostile, and many musicians gave him a "walking ovation."
When Adrian VI died in 1523, the new pope, Clement VII, was again a fine patron of the arts, and Carpentras returned to Rome. Two years later, however, he departed for Avignon, this time for good. While in Avignon he prepared several large collections of his own music, one of the most extensive prepared by any composer of the time. He seems to have held several ecclesiastical positions there, and he died in Avignon in 1548.
Carpentras composed several masses, numerous settings of the Magnificat, psalm settings, hymns, motets, and secular songs, as well as many settings of the Lamentations, which were his most famous work both during his lifetime and until 1587 when Palestrina was commissioned by the Counter-Reformation church to replace them. Stylistically, his music is typical of the generation after Josquin, smoothly polyphonic with pervasive imitation . Carpentras alternates points of imitation with homophonic sections, especially in his settings of the Lamentations.
References and further reading
- Article "Carpentras", in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1561591742
- Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0393095304
- Harold Gleason and Warren Becker, Music in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Music Literature Outlines Series I). Bloomington, Indiana. Frangipani Press, 1986. ISBN 089917034X
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