Birth: 1459 or earlier in Haut-Wignes (now known as Wirwignes), France.
Death: October 30, 1522 at Saint-Quentin, France.
Jean Mouton was an acclaimed French composer of the Renaissance especially known for his highly varied choral musical compositions. Mouton was also highly influential due to his roles as both a composer, and a teacher. He was famous for his classy and genteel motets.
Many details of Mouton’s early life is quite obscure such as many composers during his period. Many speculate that Jean Mouton has started his career as both a singer and a teacher at a collegiate church school. Mouton was a chorister in Nesle (1477–83) and worked in Amiens and Grenoble from 1500 to 1502 before joining the French royal chapel under Louis XII and Francis I. He apparently studied with Josquin des Prez, and he taught Adrian Willaert. His music leads away from the older style, which falls into clear sections, and instead emphasizes a continuous flow of vocal lines from beginning to end, with pervasive melodic imitation. He was a master of the technique of canon. His output is largely masses and motets, published during his life by printers such as Ottaviano dei Petrucci and Pierre Attaingnant. His music was featured for more than 50 years. Several of his works were included in the choir books of the papal chapel. For the rest of his life he was employed by the French Court to compose for many occasions such as births, funerals, weddings, etc.
Mouton was a dominant individual as he was both a teacher, and a composer! Of all the pieces of music which Jean Mouton composed, 9 Magnificat settings, 15 masses, 20 French chansons, and over 100 motets survived. Jean Mouton’s surviving musical output is quite large. As a court composer for the king, his compositions were widely distributed, copied, and archived all around. Thanks to Josquin des Prez, Jean Mouton was also able to compose music in Italy and eventually became a favourite of the Italians! Mouton’s style of music is very similar to that of Josquin des Prez, using paired imitation, canonic techniques, and equal-voiced polyphonic writing. However, Mouton tends to write rhythmically texturally uniform music compared to Josquin’s style. Mouton was a magnificent composer all throughout his life and was regarded as an outstanding musical craftsmen.
Mouton’s music attracted many composers later in during the 16th century. Two of his motets allowed several composers to have basis for their masses. Posthumously, Mouton was able to influence many such as music theorist Gioseffo Zarlino who was a pupil of Adrian Willaert (Willaert was a former student of Jean Mouton and one of the founders of the Venetian School).