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François Dufaut

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Biography

General consensus dictates that French lutenist and composer François Dufault was born around 1600, though some sources postulate that his birthdate may have been as late as 1610; one contemporary chronicler notes that Dufault studied with eminent lutenist Ennemond Gaultier. Mention of Dufault isn't found until his first marriage entered a register in Paris in 1629; Dufault's first publication followed in 1631 with several pieces included in Pierre Ballard's Tablature de Luth de differens autheurs. Yet more of Dufault's pieces appeared when Ballard's publication went into a second edition in 1638 and these 20 or so compositions would be the only works of Dufault to appear in print during his lifetime. It has been suggested that Dufault may have been the unnamed French lutenist Esaias Reusner studied with in Poland between 1651 and 1654. Dufault established himself in London in the later 1650s and found a pupil in a noblewoman named Elizabeth Warwick; mention of them playing "a most excellent duet" is found in a 1665 letter from Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens. A 1672 letter from Huygens father -- the composer and diplomat Constantijn Huygens -- refers to Dufault as someone who had lately died. Numerous testimonials to Dufault's artistry are known from the seventeenth century, and this makes clear that Dufault was one of the most admired lutenists of his age. Ironically, very little of Dufault's music survives from England; a vast amount of it comes from sources in German-speaking lands, and Dufault is not known to have visited there at all. Nevertheless, in 1701 -- some 30 years after Dufault died -- Viennese lutenist Wenzel Ludwig Edler von Radolt wrote in the preface to his own lute music that "the Manier and style of Du Faut are complied with as much as possible, for he can be called rightfully the most noble and best master of the lute." Evidence suggests certain pieces of Dufault were still in circulation even through the time of Sylvius Leopold Weiss. Despite his lean publication history, Dufault's work was primarily known through manuscript copies and his music shows up in some 90 seventeenth and eighteenth century manuscripts. First edited into a single volume in 1964, Dufault's work was later reprinted, with a large number of freshly discovered pieces added, in a CNRS edition in 1988.
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