Gilles Binchois (Mons, 1400 - Soignies, 1460), also known as Gilles de Bins was a composer from Hainault who, along with Guillaume Dufay belonged to the first generation of Flemish polyphonists.
Where Gilles Binchois received his education is sadly unknown. In 1419 he became organist for the Saint-Waltrudis church of Mons. At the age of twenty he entered service in the court chapel of Philip the Good. His motet Nove Cantum Melodie, which he wrote in 1431, names all the singers of the court, including himself. In addition to this, he fulfilled churchly functions in Bruges and Mons.
In 1452 Binchois was appointed provost of Soignies. In addition to this he received an ample allowance from the Burgundian court. He passed away in Soignies. In lament Johannes Ockeghem wrote Mort tu as navré.
In the photo Binchois is depicted on the right with the harp.
Compared to his predecessors who constructed highly complex polyphonic structures, Binchois reintroduced accessibility to music, more so than his contemporaries of the Burgundian School such as Guillaume Dufay and John Dunstable.
This was implemented through relative simplicity, a strong melody and consonance of the different parts. He became famous for his chansons which were written for the court and consequently often portrayed courtly love. The lyrics of his chansons are in French and usually three-parted. Sadly, no more than about 60 songs have been preserved of his likely much broader portfolio. They are often performed as solo songs accompanied by 1 or 2 instrumental voices.
Binchois was very popular during his time and later many of his songs were copied, quoted or parodied in and outside the Netherlands. Besides his chansons, a number of churchly pieces have been preserved: a few masses, a Magnificat, a Te Deum and another 26 pieces.
Vocal works (selection)
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