Adrian Le Roy

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Adrian Le Roy

Adrian Le Roy (c.1520–1598) was an influen­tial French music publis­her, lute­nist, man­do­re pla­yer, gui­ta­rist, com­po­ser and music edu­ca­tor.


Le Roy[1] was born in the town of Mon­treuil-sur-Mer in nort­hern Fran­ce to a wealthy family. Very little is known about his for­ma­ti­ve years, but he was pro­bably a cho­ris­ter and stu­died the lute, gui­tar[2] and cit­tern with various tea­chers.

He beca­me an accom­plis­hed musi­cian and ente­red the ser­vi­ce of, first, Clau­de de Cler­mont, then, Jac­ques II (Baron de Sem­bla­nçay and Vis­count of Tours), both mem­bers of the aris­to­cracy who had influen­ce at court. In 1546 he met the publis­her Jean de Brouilly in Paris and married his daugh­ter Deni­se de Brouilly.

Le Roy and his cousin Robert Ballard (c.1525–1588)[3] foun­ded the prin­ting firm «Le Roy & Ballard», and in August 1551 obtai­ned a royal pri­vi­le­ge from Henry II to print music.[4] In February 1553, the com­pany was awar­ded the title of «Impri­meur du Roi en musi­que» (pre­viously held by Pie­rre Attaig­nant). This offi­ce, which was rene­wed by suc­ces­si­ve monarchs, gave the com­pany legal pro­tec­tion against com­pe­ti­tors and com­mer­cially valua­ble pres­ti­ge.[5] Royal patro­na­ge was a major fac­tor in the company’s suc­cess sin­ce it ensu­red both a ready supply of new music from the court musi­cians and a mar­ket for its publi­ca­tions.[5] Over the follo­wing two deca­des other rival com­pa­nies drop­ped out of the mar­ket and from the 1570s onwards Le Roy & Ballard enjo­yed a vir­tual mono­poly in music publis­hing. The publis­hing hou­se las­ted to the 19th cen­tury.[6]

Whi­le Robert Ballard loo­ked after the busi­ness side, Le Roy assu­med the role of an artis­tic direc­tor. He achie­ved renown as a com­po­ser and arran­ger of songs and ins­tru­men­tals, his publis­hed work inclu­ding at least six books of tabla­tu­re for the lute, five volu­mes for the gui­tar and arran­ge­ments for the cit­tern. Le Roy also hel­ped to ensu­re the suc­cess of com­po­ser Orlan­de de Las­sus, intro­du­cing him to court and publis­hing his music.[7]

Le Roy’s book L’Instruction pour la man­do­re gives modern his­to­rians hints as to the ins­tru­ments ori­gins and design. Alt­hough lost now, Pie­rre Tri­chet com­men­ted on things he read in Le Roy’s book that tell us the ins­tru­ment came to Fran­ce by way of Nava­rre and Bis­cay. Tri­chet also lets us know that Le Roy, the aut­hor of a man­do­re met­hod book, did own the ins­tru­ment which he wro­te about.[8]

Le Roy died in Paris in 1598.

Some Published Works[edit]

  • Pre­mier Livre de Tabla­tu­re de Luth (1551).
  • Brief­ve et faci­le ins­truc­tion (1551).
  • Tiers Livre de Tabla­tu­re de Luth (1552).
  • Cin­quies­me Livre de Gui­te­rre (1554).
  • Second Livre de Gui­te­rre (1556).
  • Ins­truc­tion de Luth (1557).
  • Sixies­me Livre de Luth (1559).
  • A Brie­fe and Eas­ye Ins­tru­tion to Lear­ne the Table­tu­re to Con­duc­te and Dis­po­se the Han­de unto the Lute (1568; 2nd ed. 1574); English trans­la­tion by Alford.
  • Livre d’air de cours miz sur le Luth (1571): Solo songs with lute accom­pa­ni­ments.[9]
  • Les Ins­truc­tions pour le Luth (1574)
  • L’Instruction pour la man­do­re (1585)[8]


  • Keith Cal­mes: Gui­tar Music of the 16th Cen­tury (Paci­fic, Mis­sou­ri: Mel Bay, 2008), pp. 46 ff.
  • James Harr: Euro­pean Music, 1520–1640 (Martles­ham, Surrey: The Boy­dell Press, 2006)), p. 172 ff.
  • Fra­nçois Lesu­re & Gene­viè­ve Thi­bault: Biblio­grap­hie des édi­tions musi­ca­les d’Adrian Le Roy et Robert Ballard, 1551–1598 (Paris: Socié­té fra­nçai­se de musi­co­lo­gie / Heu­gel, 1955; reprint: Paris: Biblot­hè­que natio­na­le de Fran­ce, 2002).
  • James Tyler & Paul Sparks: The Gui­tar and its Music: From the Renais­san­ce to the Clas­si­cal Era (Oxford: Oxford Uni­ver­sity Press, 2007), p. 17 ff.


  1. ^ All Music Gui­de (Retrie­ved 26 Aug 2009).
  2. ^ In tho­se days «gui­tar» refe­rred to an ins­tru­ment with 4 cour­ses – see The Renais­san­ce Gui­tar at Society of Ame­ri­ca Lute Society of Ame­ri­ca[per­ma­nent dead link] (retrie­ved on 26 Aug 2009).
  3. ^ Robert Ballard snr. (c.1527–1588), not to be con­fu­sed with his son Robert Ballard (c.1575–1645), a dis­tin­guis­hed lute­nist and com­po­ser. In addi­tion the­re was anot­her Robert Ballard, nep­hew to the afo­re­men­tio­ned lute­nist who took over the publis­hing com­pany of «Le Roy & Ballard» in 1639 (Music and Let­ters, vol. XLVI (1965), no. 4, pp. 375–6).
  4. ^ Colin Clair: A His­tory of Euro­pean Prin­ting (Lon­don: Aca­de­mic Press, 1976), p. 213.
  5. ^ a b See Harr, p. 172.
  6. ^ Wal­do S. Pratt: The His­tory of Music: A Hand­book and Gui­de for Stu­dents (New York: G. Schir­mer, 1907), p. 155.
  7. ^ see Adrian Le Roy (at «Vir­tual Baro­que»).
  8. ^ a b James Tyler: The Man­do­re in the 16th and 17th Cen­tu­ries.
  9. ^ See Geor­ge J. Bue­low: A His­tory of Baro­que Music (Bloo­ming­ton, Ind.: India­na Uni­ver­sity Press, 2004), pp. 156 ff.

External links[edit]