Genet, Eleazar

About 1475-about 1532

Priest and church composer; was born at Carpentras, France, after which place he was sometimes called II Carpentrasso. He was connected with the Court of Pope Leo X., where, in 1515, he was chief singer of the Pontifical Chapel, and soon afterward chapelmaster. In 1521 he was sent to Avignon in his priestly capacity, and, with the exception of a visit to Rome a few years later, seems to have remained there till his death. While on this visit his Lamentations were given by his former associates at the Papal court. He recognized on this hearing much room for improvement in the work, and rewrote it. A devout priest, Genet seems to have been absolutely indifferent to the praise of outsiders, and composed for his colleagues, the musicians of Leo's court, who appreciated his work to such an extent that for years after his death they refused to allow the Lamentations to be supplanted by Palestrina's music. The only known collection of Genet's works was published at Avignon by De Channay, in four volumes, introducing two important improvements, viz., the use of round notes in the place of the former square and diamond shapes, and the abandonment of the ligature, a complicated form of connecting notes that was commonly used by church musicians prior to that time. The first volume contains five masses; the second, festival hymns; the third, Lamentations; the fourth, Magnificats. Genet suffered during the latter part of his life from a painful disease of the ears and brain, which baffled his physicians and left but brief intervals for composition.