Medieval France. An Encyclopedia

(Darren Dugan) #1

Bretel, who alludes to Adam’s superior education, his youth, and his loves. Before 1271,
the date of Bretel’s death, Adam was already well enough known to write jeux-partis
with the prince of the Puy. While his chansons written in the tradition of the Provençal
love lyric dwell on the suffering endured patiently by a lover whose lady appears
indifferent to him, there is no reason to believe that they were based on true feelings.
Although Adam lived and wrote in Picardy for much of his life, the language of his
songs reflects relatively few traits of the Picard dialect, whereas the speech of the
characters in his plays relies more heavily on dialect and probably resembles the
language used in Arras in the 13th century.
In 1276 or 1277, Adam wrote his Congé (farewell poem), one of three such poems
composed by trouvères (the others are by Jehan Bodel d’Arras and Baude Fastoul). In
156 lines divided into strophes of twelve octosyllabic verses, Adam takes leave for Paris
to continue his studies; he expresses his gratitude, good wishes, and regrets to the people
of Arras. His departure is by choice and not due to disease, as with the other two congés.
In Feuillée, he also mentions his imminent departure for Paris, though it is not possible to
know if he ever actually went.
During his lifetime, Adam’s fame stemmed equally from his musical and poetic skills.
Many of his melodies and lyrics have been preserved in versions that often resemble each
other more closely than is normally the case with trouvère compositions, implying
perhaps that they may have been copied from one model even though such a model has
not survived. In addition to the typical songs for one voice, Adam also wrote music for
five motets for three voices, fourteen rondeaux, and two other refrain songs, suggesting
that he probably knew how to read and write music, a rare phenomenon among the
Even though he must be considered one of the most versatile poets and composers of
his time, no document survives that dates any event in the life of this prolific artist.
However, Baude Fastoul, another trouvère of Arras, mentions him in a work dated 1272.
Adam died between January 7, 1285, the date of the death of Charles of Anjou, for whom
Adam began to compose Le Roi de Sicile, and before February 2, 1289, the date on which
the copyist Jean Madot, upon finishing a transcription of the Roman de Troie, boasts of
being the nephew of Adam le Bossu, who had died recently far from Arras.
Deborah H.Nelson
Adam de la Halle. Œuvres complètes du trouvère Adam de la Halle: poésies et musique, ed.
Edmond de Coussemaker. Paris: A.Durand et Pedone-Lauriel, 1872.
——. Le jeu de la feuillée, ed. Ernest Langlois. Paris: Champion, 1965.
——. Le jeu de Robin et Marion suivi du Jeu du Pélerin, ed. Ernest Langlois. Paris: Champion,
——. Le jeu de la feuillée and Le jeu de Robin et de Marion, in Medieval French Plays, trans.
Richard Axton and John Stevens. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1971, pp. 205–302.
——. The Chansons of Adam de la Halle, ed. John Henry Marshall. Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 1971.
——. The Lyrics and Melodies of Adam de la Halle, ed. and trans. Deborah H.Nelson; music ed.
Hendrik van der Werf. New York: Garland, 1985.

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