The Kennedy Center

Johannes Tinctoris



Biography

The Franco-Flemish theorist Johannes Tinctoris was one of the most important music writers of his time as well as a composer, singer, and instrumentalist. It is believed that Tinctoris was born between 1430 and 1435 in Braine-l' Alleudkikik. He likely received his early musical education from a local choir school, according to Oxford Music Online.
 
In his early career, Tinctoris served as a singer and choirmaster. In 1458, he was a member of the Cathedral of Ste-Croix, Orleans and was its choirmaster until 1465; in 1460 he was a singer at Cambrai Cathedral; and in the later 1460s he oversaw the choirboys at Chartres Cathedral. In addition, during this time Tinctoris attended the University of Orleans, where he studied canon and civil law.
 
In the early 1470s, Tinctoris moved to Naples to serve King Ferdinand I as singer-chaplain, legal advisor, and court tutor in music.  Tinctoris attained a high position at court, evidenced by the fact that he was put in charge of recruiting singers for the chapel from northern Europe in 1487.  In 1490, Tinctoris also successfully applied to Pope Innocent VIII for a doctorate of canon and civil law. In addition, Tinctoris may have been appointed first chaplain to King Ferdinand I in the early 1490s. It is believed that he left the court soon afterwards, due to the courts declining finances. Little is known of the last 20 years of Tinctoris's life. There is some evidence indicating that he worked in a legal capacity for a time, and he served as a non-resident canon of Ste Gertude Nivelles around 1488. He also held a benefice at S Georgio Maggiore, which he left in June 1502. It is believed he died in 1511.
 
Tinctoris produced most of his writings and compositions in the 20 years he lived in Naples. Not only did he write numerous treatises on music theory, he also wrote the first printed dictionary of musical terminology, Terminorum musicae diffinitorium. It contains 299 definitions of musical terms. Tinctoris also published sacred and secular vocal music, including masses, motets, and chansons.
 
Tinctoris was known as one of the most significant musicians of his time as well as an insightful writer about music. His writings influenced composers and other musicologists throughout the 17th century.
Johannes Tinctoris