Elzéar ('Carpentras') Genet

In the Bavarian State Library a choirbook can be found with masses by a composer called Carpentras. This name is derived from the place in the French Provence near Orange and Avignon, where he was born around 1470. His family name is Elzéar Genet. Like in many of his colleagues of that time, there are only a few things to tell about his youth and education. But we know that in the early 1500s he took ecclesiastical orders and was hired in the Avignon chapel where his patron bishop Giuliano della Rovere was ruling. This bishop became Pope Julian II in 1503 and ‘Carpentras’ left with him, to be enlisted in the papal chapel. After a few years however he left Rome for a post at the court of king Louis XII of France. He must have written a lot of secular music - probably irreverent and naughty chansons - because, when he returned to Rome in 1513 (Pope Julian II had died and was succeeded by Leo X de’ Medici) he was forced to stop writing this secular music. After Leo X died, Carpentras fled to Avignon, because the new Pope, the Dutchman Adrian VI, was not interested in music. Adrian’s successor, Clement VII (1523) liked music better and Carpentras returned to Rome, for only two years however, to return again to Avignon until his death in 1548. The last years of his life he wrote numerous masses, lamentations and many settings of the Magnificat. The Lamentations were used in the papal chapel until 1587, when Palestrina, the great reformer of the liturgical music after the Tridentine Council (Counter-Reformation) replaced them.
Carpentras has held several ecclesiastical positions in Avignon the last two decades of his life. He suffered from tinnitus, a ‘constant hissing in his head’. He therefore stopped practising music and devoted himself to publishing his entire musical output of sacred music.
Cees Wagemakers, 2018

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