Nivers, Guillaume-gabriel

Nivers, Guillaume-Gabriel a French priest and composer of sacred music, was born in 1617, in a village in the environs of Melun. He was at first placed as choir-boy at Melun, and learned music in the collegiate church of that city. He afterwards went to pursue his studies in the college of Meaux, then at Paris, where he entered the seminary of St. Sulpice to pursue a theological course. Carried away by his taste for music, he took lessons upon the harpsichord from Chambonniere, and in a short time acquired a proficiency which caused him to be appointed, at the age of twenty-three, organist of St. Sulpice. Two years after he entered the king's chapel in the capacity of tenor. In 1667, one of the places for organist at this chapel, having become vacant, was given to Nivers, who still continued to fulfill the same duties in the church of St. Sulpice. Several years later he was made master of music to the queen and organist of the Royal House of the young ladies of St. Cyr, when, in 1688, Madame de Maintenon founded that establishment. It was Nivers who held the harpsichord when, for the first time, the young ladies of this institution represented before the king Racine's. Esther and Athalie, the choruses of which had been set to music by Moreau. We are ignorant of the precise date of Nivers's death; but we have proof that he was still living in 1701, by an approbation that he gave in the same year to a new edition of his Roman Graduel and Anitiphonaire, printed at the house of Chr. Ballard. Nivers was then eighty-four years old. This learned and laborious musician has left a large number of works. We have, La gamnme du Si; nouvelle methode pour apprendtre a solfer sans muances (Paris, 1646; 8vo). This book, of which several editions have appeared under different titles, has contributed powerfully, by its brevity and the simplicity of its method, to the reform of solmization by change of note, which was still in vogue in the time of Nivers, notwithstanding the efforts of other musicians of the latter part of the 16th century to abolish it: — Methode certaine pour apprendre le plainchant de l'Eglise (ibid. 1667): — Traiti de la composition musique (ibid. i667, 8vo): — Dissertation sur le chant Grigorien (ibid. 1683, 8vo). Nivers gave in this dissertation, as well as in the following works, a proof of his perfect knowledge of ecclesiastical music: — Chants d'Eglise a I'usage de la parvisse de St. Sulpice (ibid. 1656, 12mo): — Graduale Romanum juxta missale Pii Quinti pontijfcis maximi authoritate editum; cujus modulatio concinne disposita; in usum et gratiam monalium ordinis Sancti-Augustini, etc. (ibid. 1658, 4to): — A ntiphonarium Ronanur juxta Breviariunm Pii

Quinti, etc, (ibid. 1658, 4to): — Passiones D. N. J. C. cum benedictione ce4rei paschalis (ibid. 1670, 4to): — Lefons- de Tenobres selon l'usage Romain (ibid, 4to). This collection and the preceding have been united in one volume, having for a title Les Passions avec l'Exultet et les leFons de Teaebres de M. Nivers (ibid. 1689, 4to): — Chants et'Motets i Plusage de l'Eglise et communante de Dames de. la royale maison de Saint-Louis a Saint-Cyr (ibid. 1692, 4to). A second edition of this work, arranged and enlarged bh several motets by Clerembault, has been published (ibid. 1723, 2 vols. 4to): — Livre d'orque, contenant cent pieces de toos les tons de l'Elylise (ibid. 1665, 4to): — lqeuxieme Livre dorgque, etc. (ibid. 1671, 4to): — Troisieme Livre d'orgue (ibid. 1675, 4to). Other books of organ pieces by the same author have appeared at more recent periods. These pieces, correctly written, in a style which recalls that of the German organists of the 17th century, justify the reputation which Nivers enjoyed in his time as composer. See Bourdelot, Histoire de la Musique; De la Borde, Essai ser la Musique; Choron et Fayolle, Dictionnaire historique des Musiciens; Patria, Histoire de 'art musical en France, Fetis, Biog. Univ. des Musiciens.

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