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Petrus de Cruce


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Petrus de Cruce (Pierre de la Croix) was active as a cleric, composer and theorist in the late part of the 13th century. His main contribution was to the notational system.


13th-century composer, theorist, and scholar, Petrus de Cruce was apparently born in or near Amiens, in north-central France; for dates we know only that he was active in the years around 1290. He held the title of magistar, indicating that he probably studied at the University of Paris. Given the overlap of their lives and supposed tenures at Paris, Petrus may have been Franco of Cologne’s student. It is recorded that in 1298 he composed a monophonic office for the royal palace chapel at Paris, and that in 1301-2, he resided at the Bishop of Amiens’s court, undoubtedly as a member of his clerical staff, and most likely his chapel staff as well. Petrus died before 1347, since in that year is the first reference in the inventory of Amiens Cathedral to its possession of a polyphonic manuscript which he had apparently left them in his will. Contemporary and slightly later commentators spoke well of Petrus de Cruce; no less than the theorist Jacobus de Liėge called him, “that worthy practical musician, who composed so many beautiful and good pieces of mensural polyphony and followed Franco’s precepts.”

Theoretical contributions

Mensural notation had developed by fits and starts during the 13th century as the old ligatures/rhythmic modes became, for various reasons, less suited to the indication of polyphony’s new subtleties, as we shall see below.

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