Several pieces from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries are known as ‘musician motets’ due to their inclusion of named composers. Moulu’s Mater floreat
, preserved uniquely in a manuscript presented to Lorenzo II de’ Medici at his wedding in 1518, has one of the longest lists of musicians, including the leading international figures within living memory, from Du Fay through Regis, Busnois, Basiron, Agricola, Obrecht, and so on, finishing with ‘the incomparable Josquin’. The second half of the piece is more particular to the French court, beginning its list of names with Antoine de Longueval, who had become master of the royal chapel in 1515. De Longueval receives the longest share of music in the whole of Moulu’s motet—nineteen bars as against Josquin’s eleven—yet today he his hardly remembered, and of his compositions only two motets, a chanson, and a questionably attributed Passion survive. The remaining French chapel musicians listed are largely minor figures, known to specialists but rarely performed today, with the exception of Jean Mouton. Heinrich Isaac, who is also mentioned in this part of the motet, has no known connection with the Paris court.
That Moulu listed so many musicians who were active at Paris has in the past been taken as indicating that he himself was among their number: more recently, however, a comprehensive survey of music at the court (Christelle Cazaux, La musique à la cour de François I, 2002) revealed no evidence of his presence. It is possible that future research will identify Moulu in some other (perhaps not specifically musical) role at court; in the meantime David Fallows has argued that Mater floreat is best viewed as having been written for entertainment at Meaux rather than in the court environment. This would certainly go some way to explaining the composer’s use of rather obvious Latin puns such as ‘laughing’ or, we might say, ‘hilarious Hilaire’ and ‘fortunate Divitis’ (the latter being a Latinization of ‘Le Riche’ or a similar vernacular name). Quite how the motet made its way into one of the sixteenth century’s most impressive presentation manuscripts for the nobility, if so, remains an open question.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2010