1165 - December 26, 1236
born in Paris, France, composed during the Medieval period
Philippe le Chancelier, or "Philip, the Chancellor," was born in Paris in the mid-1160s, an illegitimate son resulting from the union between a Parisian archdeacon and a woman connected with the nobility. Fortunately Philip's uncle was Peter of Nemours, bishop of Paris, who acknowledged young Philip and stewarded him through an education gained at the newly formed University of Paris. Philip taught theology at the University for several years before being named archdeacon of Noyon sometime around the turn of the thirteenth century. In 1217 Philip was named chancellor of the Notre Dame Cathedral, a position he held until his death nearly 20 years later; Philip also retained his title as archdeacon of Noyon beyond his appointment to Paris.
Philip, the Chancellor, has long been known to scholars of medieval thought as one of the most progressive of thirteenth century theologians through his tract Summa de bono. Philip is likewise one of the most prolific authors of verse to be found among the secular masters of his era, but it wasn't until the tail end of the twentieth century that musicologists began to take an interest in Philip as a composer of music. Most of the original manuscripts from which his verse is known bear witness to some kind of musical notation. Scholars had assumed that the musical component in Philip's literary output was the work of other hands; for example, his Notre Dame-based contemporary Pérotin is known to have set one of Philip's texts. But closer examination of the familiar manuscript sources, especially in comparison to anonymously transmitted versions held elsewhere, reveal that Philip was likely the composer of some 80 to 90 pieces of music bearing his literary texts. The pieces include both monophonic and polyphonic works, including lais, sequences, rondeaux, conductus, and jeu-parties. Subjects in the texts addressed range from complex biblical allegories to commentary about current events and specific people. As to exactly how many of Philip's musical settings genuinely belong to him is yet a matter of debate -- this whole field of study didn't commence until the 1980s. But it adds one more recognizable name, alongside that of Léonin and Pérotin, to the pantheon of the vastly influential, and still largely anonymous, group of composers who made up the School of Notre Dame. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis , Rovi