Bourgeois, Louis

A French musician, teacher, and composer of the Sixteenth Century, his chief claim to distinction being that he had an important part in the selection and arranging of tunes in the Genevan Psalter. Recent investigation has shown that he also wrote many of the melodies. He received an invitation to Geneva in 1541, left there in 1557, and it is thought had no connection with the Genevan Psalter after the latter year. Little is known of his life. He was born in Paris, early in the Sixteenth Century, and about the time of Calvin's return from Strasburg, was called to Geneva. In 1545 took the place, in association with another, vacated by Guillaume Franc, as Master of the Children. In Geneva, Bourgeois seems to have fared rather ill at the hands of the Council, who reduced his pittance, and though Calvin himself made intercession in his behalf it was of no avail. Once he was thrown into prison for the offense of altering psalm tunes without permission, but this time Calvin was successful in his effort for him, obtained his release and the alterations were adopted. Bourgeois was one of the first to harmonize the melodies of the French version of the psalms. In 1547 he published three collections of psalms, and these were printed at Lyons, instead of Geneva, probably because of Calvin's opposition to the use of harmony. A treatise of his, published at Geneva in 1550, proposed a reform in the naming of sounds, the first proposal, according to Grove, to abandon the method of the Guidonian Hand and to teach music by the employment of the solfeggio. Bourgeois returned to Paris in 1557, and it is believed spent the remainder of his days there. He published a collection of psalms in Paris, in 1561.