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Adrian Le Roy

1520 - 1598
born in Montreuil-sur-Mer, composed during the Renaissance period
Adrian Le Roy was a versatile figure in the arts in sixteenth century France, successfully mixing the careers of composer, lutenist, guitarist, pedagogue, and music publisher. As a composer, Le Roy is best known for his chansons and works for lute, guitar, and cittern, instruments on which he was a virtuoso.

Le Roy was born around 1520 in the northern French town of Montreuil-sur-Mer. He came from a wealthy family, but little else is known about his early years. He was probably a choirboy and undoubtedly studied with accomplished teachers on his trio of favorite instruments.

By his early adult years Le Roy was an accomplished musician and around this time was taken into the service of two royal dignitaries, Claude de Clermont-Tonnerre and Jacques II, Baron de Semblançay. Le Roy likely performed regularly for them at private gatherings, probably presenting some of his own works.

The young musician's interest in publishing appears to have been kindled by his acquaintance, in 1546, with Paris editor Jean de Brouilly. Le Roy, already financially secure, if not wealthy, purchased property from Brouilly and later married his daughter, Denise.

In 1551 Le Roy, along with his cousin Robert Ballard, established a music publishing firm, Le Roy & Ballard, which was eventually headquartered in the former Brouilly residence, one of the purchased properties. Le Roy served as artistic administrator of the firm, leaving the business details of the operation to his cousin.

The firm prospered, but Le Roy achieved his most satisfying successes in composition, mainly in songs and solo instrumental music. In 1551 he published the first of several instructional books, the initial effort dealing with the guitar, and two further ones, in 1557 and 1574, respectively, for lute. He also wrote numerous books of tablature for solo guitar, lute, and cittern. In addition, not only did he generally remain active as a composer of original music, but he arranged the works of other composers, like Certon.

By the 1570s Le Roy was among the few with connections not only to Kings (Charles IX and Henry III) and other French royalty, but to prominent composers of the day, including Lassus (a close friend), Arcadelt, and many others. Though the publishing firm slowed down for a time following the death of Ballard in 1588, it recovered and flourished once again. Le Roy died in 1598. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
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