Gui d'Ussel

Gui d'Ussel

Gui d'Ussel, d'Ussèl, or d'Uisel (fl. 1195–1209Aubrey, 16.] ) was a turn-of-the-thirteenth-century troubadour of the Limousin. Twenty of his poems survive: eight "cansos", two "pastorelas", two "coblas", and eight "tensos", several with his relatives and including a "partimen" with Maria de Ventadorn. [Gaunt and Kay, 284.] Four of his "cansos" melodies remain. [Perrin, 323.]

According to his "vida", Gui was the youngest of three sons of a wealthy noble family of the castle Ussel-sur-Sarzonne, northeast of Ventadorn. He and his brothers Ebles and Peire, as well as his cousin Elias, are all reputed troubadours and castellans of Ussel according to the author of the "vida", who makes Gui himself a canon of Montferrand and Brioude in the diocese of Clermont.Egan, 44.] Among his relatives Gui was known for his "cansos". The only confirmation of Gui's family from outside his "vida" is a reference to the brothers Guido and Eblo Usseli donating land to the abbey of Bonaigue. Gui's biographer believed him to have been in love with Malgarita, wife of Rainaut VI, viscount of Aubusson. He supposedly later fell in love with Guillemette de Comborn, wife of Dalfi d'Alvernha, and composed many songs about her. Gui spent almost his entire life in the Limousin and Auvergne, rarely travelling abroad.Aubrey, 222.]

Gui addresses several of his songs to Maria de Ventadorn (including the "partimen") and makes reference to Peter II of Aragon in one which survives with a melody. The reference to Peter's queen in the song's "razo" puts the date of its composition in 1204 or later, after Peter's marriage to Marie of Montpellier. His "vida" records how Gui obeyed a papal injunction from Pierre de Castelnau to cease composing in 1209 and the fact that none of his poems can be reliably assigned later than that date and none mention the Albigensian Crusade, it is probable that Gui did indeed obey papal orders and cease writing. [Egan, 45, notes that the Council of Montpellier of 1214 forbade clerics to mingle with "curias vel hospicia vel colloquia mulierum".]

Gui's poetry to some measure imitates that of his contemporary Cadenet, whom he mentions in one piece. [Aubrey, 21 and 225.] His melodies have something in common with those of Gaucelm Faidit, whom he may have met in Ventadorn. His melodies all stay within a minor tenth interval and use numerous thirds and traids, but never repeating phrases in the AAB form. His music is characterised by motivic variety and he has been praised for his "subtle and creative compositional faculty".Aubrey, 224.] The later troubadour Daude de Pradas referred to Gui in a "tenso" and his melody has gives some indication that it may have been influenced by those of Gui. [Aubrey, 232.]

Gui's works were reproduced in the anthology of Ferrarino Trogni da Ferrara.



*Aubrey, Elizabeth. "The Music of the Troubadours". Indiana University Press, 1996. ISBN 0 253 21389 4.
*Egan, Margarita, ed. and trans. "The Vidas of the Troubadours". New York: Garland, 1984. ISBN 0 8240 9437 9.
*Gaunt, Simon, and Kay, Sarah, edd. "The Troubadours: An Introduction". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN 0 521 574730.
*Perrin, Robert H. "Descant and Troubadour Melodies: A Problem in Terms." "Journal of the American Musicological Society", 16:3, (Autumn, 1963), pp. 313–324.

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