Pierre Gaultier was born in Orleans in 1599. He came from a middle class intellectual family
and his father is described as a school master and arithmetician. Apart from his 1638 lute
book no further clues about his life have come to light under this name. Even among
contemporary musicians he is not well known.
Lute pieces from his pen were of course adopted into other collections, though usually without
mention of his name. In the Burwell manuscript (ca 1670) we read "...Gaultier of Rome was
esteemed for his learning and the gravity of his playing....".
According to Monique Rollin´s most recent reading of the sources it is now thought highly
probable that Gaultier entered the Jesuit Monastery as novice in August 1621 and took his
vows in in 1624. As priest he assumed the latinised name Petrus Galltruchius (aurelianus)
and became involved in every field of learning of his time.
Between 1653 and 1665 he published in Caen a text-book in several volumes "for the use of
young men in their studies". The last volume is devoted to music.
Gaultier/Galltruchius had obviously pledge himself to the renaissance ideal of an allround
education. This compendium includes sections on arithmetic, geometry, the motions of the planet
, the earth, optics and music. Gaultier may therefore be compared with Constantin Huygens
or Athanasius Kircher.
Kircher, a German Jesuit, was author of the important musical treatise "Musurgia Universalis"
(1650) but at the same time a scientist and his acknowledged discoverer of, inter alia, the
magic lantern and was from 1637 until his death in 1680 teacher of Mathematics and Physics
at the Jesuit College in Rome. The College in Rome was the headquarters of the Jesuit Order,
aswell as being a cultural centre of exceptional standing. Here qualified musicians were sought
by European Princes both spiritual and temporal.
Presumably Gaultier, who must have been thoroughly familiar with the lute music of his French
contemporaries, was sent to headquarters in Rome by his Order. There he met Prince Eggenberg
whose visit in Rome took place in 1638 between June and November. Eggenberg had been sent to
Rome as a special envoy of the Austrian Emperor to announce at the Papal Court of Urban VIII
the enthronement of Ferdinand III. There was however a degree of diplomatic dissention which
resulted in Prince Eggenberg´s waiting "incognito" in Rome for five months.
Eggenberg´s processional entry into Rome with his lavish train finally took place at the
of November. A triumphal arch was erected in front of the Jesuit College where in his honour
a motet for double choir as well as a specially composed festival piece were offered.
A part of this festival piece is probably still to be found in the "Ballet sur l´entrée du Prince
Eggenberg", which Gaultier has left to us in his "Oeuvres". Only through Eggenberg´s patronage,
to whom the lute-book is dedicated, and his financial support was it possible to have the
Because it contains exclusively secular music it was at least advisable if not absolutely
to publish it under his original name. The formal procession into Rome marked the the end of
Eggenberg´s mission and he returned to Vienna before the end of 1638. Gaultier remained in Rome
until about 1640 and then he returned to the monastery at Caen, where he taught
Theology, Philosophy, Mathematics and the Humanities. He died in 1681 having meanwhile become
Director of the College.