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Guillaume Dufay

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(1397 – 1474)

Guillaume Dufay (most probably 1397 - 1474) was an early renaissance composer, and the first of many polyphonic masters from the Low Countries (modern Belgium, the Netherlands, and northern France).

He was not an innovator, with the exception of a few late works, and wrote within a stable tradition. He was one of the last composers to make use of mediaeval techniques such as isorhythm, but one of the first to use the harmonies, phrasing, and expressive melodies characteristic of the early Renaissance. His compositions within the larger genres - masses, motets, and chansons - are mostly similar to each other; his renown is largely due to what was perceived as his perfect control of the forms in which he worked, as well as his gift for memorable and singable melody. During the fifteenth century he was universally regarded as the greatest composer of the time, and that belief has largely persisted to the present day. Dufay, who wrote mostly church music, was a priest. His most famous motet is probably Nuper rosarum flores composed for the consecration of the cathedral of Florence in 1436.

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