Josse-François-Joseph Benaut (c.1743, Gullegem, Belgium - 13 July 1794, in what is now Place de la Nation, Paris) was a Belgian composer, organist and harpsichordist who was guillotined during the French Revolution. His father Charles Benaut was an organist in Wulveringen in Flanders. Josse-François-Joseph Benaut set himself up in Paris as a harpsichord tutor and in 1771 married the daughter of a Flemish merchant.
He was quite industrious during his short career: between 1772 and 1784 he brought out 260 compositions, 120 of which survive. The bulk consists of popular keyboard arrangements of arias and opera overtures, but he also produced 12 Organ Masses, six Magnificats, a Te Deum, two keyboard concertos, chamber sonatas, motets, ceremonial pieces and songs. His Galant manner had roots in outdated Baroque techniques, though he was not as conservative as all that. He had a broad knowledge of European music and experimented with novel scoring, employing Scottish bagpipes in one piece. Benaut's book of keyboard sonatas (1773) was written for both harpsichord and fortepiano.
"Messe en noëls avec variations en Ré Mineur" dates from 1774. It is an "Organ Mass" which uses popular Noël melodies as thematic material, rather than the more usual plainsong.
The "Kyrie" consists of:
1. Plein Jeu
2. Noël flamand (Grand Jeu)
3. Noël français (« A la venue de Noël » - Cromorne)
4. Noël anglais (Cornet de récit)
5. Noël français (« Où s’en vont ces gais bergers » - Grand Jeu)
The score is attached below, as well as 3 photos Benaut's grave and memorials. This is a mass grave containing 1000 guillotined victims.
For information on the traditions of the "French Organ Mass" please see the First Comment.