L’homme armé

Six anonymous masses attributed to Antoine Busnoys

The manuscript VI E 40 from the Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli, dating from between 1460-1470 and attributed to the Franco-Flemish master Antoine Busnoys (c. 1430-1492), contains a cycle of six masses based upon the cantus firmus of the chanson L’homme armé. The first five masses use distinct fragments of the melody from the chanson, either in their original form or in various transformations. The sixth mass uses the entire melody of the chanson, performed in canon by the two tenor voices. This mass cycle, of the highest artistic level, could be considered a “treatise” on polyphonic composition. It represents, for its musical genre (the cantus frmus mass cycle), that which Bach’s Art of the fugue represents to instrumental counterpoint of the XVIII century.
In this program the sixth mass of the cycle is performed in its entirety, as well as instrumental versions of selections from the first five masses.

  • “L’homme, l’homme” (Mass n.1, Sanctus)
  • Kyrie
  • “L’homme armé” (Mass n.2, Osanna)
  • Gloria
  • “Doibt on doubter” (Mass n.3, Christe)
  • Credo
  • “On a fait partout crier que chascun se viengne armer” (Mass n.4, Osanna)
  • Sanctus
  • “D’un haubregon de fer” (Mass n.5, Agnus Dei I)
  • Agnus Dei

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