Guillaume Dufay

Guillaume Dufay (left), with contemporary composer Gilles Binchois
Guillaume Dufay (left), with contemporary composer Gilles Binchois


In the succession of medieval composers I have enjoyed so far, I seem to have made personal connections with every other one. Hildegarde von Bingen I adored; the representatives of the Notre Dame school—Perotin and Leonin—not so much; Guillaume Machaut I loved. So I wondered about Guillaume Dufay.

I bookmarked numerous pieces, but did not find any particularly compelling until my attention was captured by his beautiful motet Nuper Rosarum Flores. I was all the more intrigued when I learned it was composed for the 1436 consecration of the Basilica de Santa Maria de Fiore. This massive brick dome—which was then in the last stages of completion—was a feat of medieval technology, accomplished by Filippo Brunelleschi.

What just happened to be on my library book shelf?—Ross King’s excellent Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture.

I love connections like this!

Interestingly, it has been argued that the proportional structure of the motet was inspired by I Kings 6:1-20, which gives the dimensions of Solomon’s temple.