The historical importance of of François Dufault and his influence on musicians outside France

Paper read at the Colloque, 'Le luth en l'Occident' at the Musée de la Musique, Paris in May 1998.


François Dufault's music forms, along with that of the Gaultiers, Mezangeau and Pinel, the central core of the mid-17th-century French lute repertory. The 1964 CNRS publication of his works almost doubled in size for the second edition in 1988, largely because of the addition of undoubtedly authentic music from non-French sources unknown to the editors in 1964. His music certainly travelled widely outside France, and its sources suggest that it was very influential. Although it is known that he spent some time in England, the documentation for this visit is frustratingly sparse, and it may not have been as important as a possible visit to Germany for which there is also some evidence. Indeed, Dufault's music was probably as well, if not better, known to German and Austrian lutenists of the late 17th and early 18th centuries than that of the Gaultiers.

The paper takes a fresh look at some of the sources, in particular an important but relatively little-known manuscript (Brussels, Bibliothèque royale, MS II 276) that shows strong evidence of being a partial autograph. If this identification is accepted, many 'new' pieces can be added to the oeuvre. This source, like most lute books of the period, is clearly of didactic intent and the paper touches upon the important master/pupil aspect of the transmission of the lute repertory. It also examines the reception of Dufault's oeuvre in its Germanic context and shows how non-French sources can cast light on French performance-practice (especially of the 'duple-time' gigue) as well as identifying some aspects of Dufault's music which may have particularly appealed to German and Austrian musicians of the following generations.

Department of Computing, Goldsmiths College, University of London, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW

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