Pierre Phalèse the Elder

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Pierre Phalèse the Elder (alias Petrus Phalesius; c. 1510 – c. 1575) was an important publisher and engraver of music in the sixteenth-century Low Countries.

Phalèse was born in Leuven about 1510 where he started as a bookseller in 1545, but soon set up a publishing house, and by 1575 had produced some 189 music books. Phalèse at first outsourced his books to various printers, but by 1553 was printing his own high-quality output from movable type. In 1570 he entered into partnership with Jean Bellère, a printer based in Antwerp, enabling him to reach a wider clientele.

The majority of Phalèse's output is dedicated to sacred music — masses, motets and magnificats — the rest being a mix of French chansons, Italian madrigals, Flemish songs and instrumental works. Phalèse borrowed from many composers and did not hesitate to include works from collections of other publishers. Many pieces are by Clemens non Papa and other Flemish composers such as Lassus and Rore, while some of his instrumental pieces are obviously borrowed from the Parisian publishers Le Roy and Ballard. Notable among these is Selectissima... in guiterna ludenda carmina (Louvain, 1570), a collection containing instructions (in Latin) for amateurs wishing to play the guitar, together with 115 pieces for that instrument. In the same year Phalèse published a collection of music for cittern under the title Hortulus cytherae.

Other publications include:

  • Des chansons reductz en tabulature de lut a deux, trois et quatre parties …. Louvain, 1547
  • Hortus musarum (over 100 pieces for lute). Louvain, 1552.
  • Tiers livre des chansons. Louvain, 1560.
  • Hadriani Willaert musici excellentissimi moteta. Louvain, 1561.
  • Theatrum musicum (for lute). Louvain, 1563
  • Luculentum theatrum musicum (for lute). Louvain, 1568.
  • Recueil des fleurs produictes de la divine musique. Louvain, 1569.
  • Liber Primus Leviorum. Louvain, 1571.
  • Liber leviorum Carminum. Antwerp, 1572.
  • Selectissima carmina ludenda in Quinterna. Louvain, 1573.
  • La Fleur des chansons a trois parties. Louvain, 1574.

Phalèse died at Louvain in 1575. His sons Corneille and Pierre Phalèse the Younger continued the family firm, moving it in 1581 to premises in Antwerp, where it flourished into the seventeenth century under the direction of Pierre the Elder's granddaughters.


  • Henri Vanhulst, Catalogue des éditions de musique publiées à Louvain par Pierre Phalèse et ses fils (1545-1578), Brussels, Palais des Académies, 1990. ISBN 2-8031-0079-7.
  • Henri Vanhulst, Édition comparative des instructions pour le luth, le cistre et la guitare publiées à Louvain par Pierre Phalèse (1545-1570), Revue belge de Musicologie, XXXIV-XXXV (1980–1981).
  • Catalogue des Editions de musique publiées à Louvain par Pierre Phalèse et ses fils 1545-1578. Nederlands Conservatorium, Brussels, 1990.