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About Pierre de Ronsard

Ronsard was a member of the humanist and literary group referred to as the Pleiade. Though he knew little about music formally or in terms of direct composition, Ronsard's odes and sonnets proved useful texts to the composers of his time and far after. Over two hundred of his poems were set to music by over thirty different composers. In helping to provide entertainment for Charles IX and Henry III, Ronsard would use music as a metaphor for the importance and virtues of poetry and would also use symbolic representations from the classical and from contemporary instruments to refer to various types of poetry (i.e., the lyre for lyric poetry and the flute for pastoral verse). All of his works were published in Paris and included the collection "Amours" which, not surprisingly, was much more sensual than other works. People who set his poems to music included Muret, Janequin, Certon, Lassus, Arcadelt, Durand and Roussel among others. Though his works were condemned and fell out of favor they have since been revisited by composers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among those setting his poetry to music were Wagner, Bizet, Gounod, Honegger, Milhaud, Dukas and Poulenc. ~ Keith Johnson