Franco-Flemish School

Franco-Flemish School

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In music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

, the Franco-Flemish School or more precisely the Netherlandish School refers, somewhat imprecisely, to the style of polyphonic
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 vocal music composition in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, and to the composers who wrote it. See Renaissance music
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

 for a more detailed description of the musical style, and links to individual composers from this time.

The composers of this time and place, and the music they produced, are also known as the "Dutch" or the "Netherlandish School". As national and linguistic boundaries during this period do not correspond with national borders today, the term "Netherlandish" is not meant to refer to the present-day boundaries of the nation known as the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 (or Holland); relatively few of the musicians originated within that region. Instead, the word "Netherlandish" refers to "de Nederlanden", i.e. the Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

, roughly corresponding to modern Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

, the southern and northern parts of Holland and adjacent portions of northern France. Most of these musicians were born in Hainaut
County of Hainaut
The County of Hainaut was a historical region in the Low Countries with its capital at Mons . In English sources it is often given the archaic spelling Hainault....

, Flanders
County of Flanders
The County of Flanders was one of the territories constituting the Low Countries. The county existed from 862 to 1795. It was one of the original secular fiefs of France and for centuries was one of the most affluent regions in Europe....

 and Brabant
Duchy of Brabant
The Duchy of Brabant was a historical region in the Low Countries. Its territory consisted essentially of the three modern-day Belgian provinces of Flemish Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Antwerp, the Brussels-Capital Region and most of the present-day Dutch province of North Brabant.The Flag of...

. During periods of political stability, this was a center of cultural activity for more than two hundred years, although the exact centers shifted location during this time, and by the end of the sixteenth century the focal point of the Western musical world shifted from this region to Italy.

While many of the composers were born in the region loosely known as the Netherlands, they were famous for working elsewhere. Netherlanders moved to Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 where they were called "I fiamminghi" or Oltremontani
Oltremontani is a term used to describe the Franco-Flemish School of composers who dominated the musical landscape of Northern Italy during the middle of the sixteenth Century...

 ("those from over the Alps"), to Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 - notably in the Flemish chapel (capilla flamenca)
Flemish chapel (capilla flamenca)
The Flemish chapel was one of two choirs employed by Philip II of Spain, the other being the Spanish chapel .- La Grande Chapelle :...

 of the Habsburgs, to towns in Germany and France and other parts of Europe, carrying their styles with them. The diffusion of their technique, especially after the revolutionary development of printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

, produced the first true international style since the unification of Gregorian chant
Gregorian chant
Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical music within Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services...

 in the 9th century.

Following are five groups, or generations, that are sometimes distinguished in the Franco-Flemish/Netherlandish school. Development of this musical style was continuous, and these generations only provide useful reference points.
  • The First generation (1420-1450), dominated by Dufay
    Guillaume Dufay
    Guillaume Dufay was a Franco-Flemish composer of the early Renaissance. As the central figure in the Burgundian School, he was the most famous and influential composer in Europe in the mid-15th century.-Early life:From the evidence of his will, he was probably born in Beersel, in the vicinity of...

    , Binchois
    Gilles Binchois
    Gilles de Binche , also known as Gilles de Bins , was a Franco-Flemish composer, one of the earliest members of the Burgundian School, and one of the three most famous composers of the early 15th century...

     and Antoine Busnois
    Antoine Busnois
    Antoine Busnois was a French composer and poet of the early Renaissance Burgundian School. While also noted as a composer of sacred music, such as motets, he was one of the most renowned 15th-century composers of secular chansons...

    ; this group of composers is most often known as the Burgundian School
    Burgundian School
    The Burgundian School is a term used to denote a group of composers active in the 15th century in what is now northern and eastern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, centered on the court of the Dukes of Burgundy. The main names associated with this school are Guillaume Dufay, Gilles Binchois,...

    . The origins of the style of the first generation embraces both earlier Burgundian traditions and also Italian and English styles. For example in 1442, the poet Martin le Franc
    Martin le Franc
    Martin le Franc was a French poet of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance.He was born in Normandy, and studied in Paris. He entered clerical orders, becoming an apostolic prothonotary, and later becoming secretary to both Antipope Felix V and Pope Nicholas V.He was named provost at Lausanne...

     praised Binchois and Dufay for following Dunstaple in adopting the contenance angloise ("English character").
  • The Second generation (1450-1485), with Ockeghem
    Johannes Ockeghem
    Johannes Ockeghem was the most famous composer of the Franco-Flemish School in the last half of the 15th century, and is often considered the most...

     as its main exponent, others including Orto
    Marbrianus de Orto
    Marbrianus de Orto was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was a contemporary, close associate, and possible friend of Josquin des Prez, and was one of the first composers to write a completely canonic setting of the Ordinary of the Mass.-Life:The illegitimate child of a priest,...

    , Compère
    Loyset Compère
    Loyset Compère was a French composer of the Renaissance. Of the same generation as Josquin des Prez, he was one of the most significant composers of motets and chansons of that era, and one of the first musicians to bring the light Italianate Renaissance style to France.-Life:His exact place of...

    , Prioris
    Johannes Prioris
    Johannes Prioris was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was one of the first composers to write a polyphonic setting of the Requiem mass....

    , Agricola
    Alexander Agricola
    Alexander Agricola was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. A prominent member of the Grande chapelle, the Habsburg musical establishment, he was a renowned composer in the years around 1500, and his music was widely distributed throughout Europe...

    , Caron
    Firminus Caron
    Firminus Caron was a French composer, and likely a singer, of the Renaissance. While highly successful as a composer and influential, especially on the development of imitative counterpoint, and while numerous compositions of his survive, he is almost unique in there being an almost complete...

    , Faugues
    Guillaume Faugues
    Guillaume Faugues was a French composer. Very little is known of his life, however a significant representation of his work survives in the form of five mass settings...

    , Regis
    Johannes Regis
    Johannes Regis was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was a well-known composer at the close of the 15th century, was a principal contributor to the Chigi Codex, and was secretary to Guillaume Dufay.-Life:...

     and Tinctoris
    Johannes Tinctoris
    Johannes Tinctoris was a Flemish composer and music theorist of the Renaissance. He is known to have studied in Orléans, and to have been master of the choir there; he also may have been director of choirboys at Chartres...

  • The Third generation (1480-1520): Obrecht
    Jacob Obrecht
    Jacob Obrecht was a Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was the most famous composer of masses in Europe in the late 15th century, being eclipsed by only Josquin des Prez after his death.-Life:...

    , de La Rue
    Pierre de La Rue
    Pierre de la Rue , called Piersson, was a Franco-Flemish composer and singer of the Renaissance. A member of the same generation as Josquin des Prez, and a long associate of the Habsburg-Burgundian musical chapel, he ranks with Agricola, Brumel, Compère, Isaac, Obrecht, and Weerbeke as one of the...

    , Isaac
    Heinrich Isaac
    Heinrich Isaac was a Franco-Flemish Renaissance composer of south Netherlandish origin. He wrote masses, motets, songs , and instrumental music. A significant contemporary of Josquin des Prez, Isaac influenced the development of music in Germany...

    , Brumel
    Antoine Brumel
    Antoine Brumel was a French composer. He was one of the first renowned French members of the Franco-Flemish school of the Renaissance, and, after Josquin des Prez, was one of the most influential composers of his generation....

    , Févin
    Antoine de Févin
    Antoine de Févin was a French composer of the Renaissance. He was active at the same time as Josquin des Prez, and shares many traits with his more famous contemporary.-Life:...

    , Pipelare
    Matthaeus Pipelare
    Matthaeus Pipelare was a Flemish composer, choir director, and possibly wind instrument player of the Renaissance.He was from Louvain, and spent part of his early life in Antwerp. Unlike many of his contemporaries, many of whom traveled to Italy, Spain or elsewhere, he seems never to have left...

    , Richafort
    Jean Richafort
    Jean Richafort was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance.He was probably born in Hainaut, and his native language appears to have been French. He may have studied with Josquin des Prez, though the evidence for this is circumstantial. Richafort served as choir master at St. Rombold...

    , and most significantly Josquin
    Josquin Des Prez
    Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] , often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance...

  • The Fourth generation (1520-1560): Gombert
    Nicolas Gombert
    Nicolas Gombert was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was one of the most famous and influential composers between Josquin des Prez and Palestrina, and best represents the fully developed, complex polyphonic style of this period in music history.-Life:Details of his early life are...

    , Crecquillon
    Thomas Crecquillon
    Thomas Crecquillon was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He is considered to be a member of the Netherlands school. While his place of birth is unknown, it was probably within the region loosely known at the time as the Netherlands, and he probably died at Béthune.-Biography:Very...

    , Manchicourt
    Pierre de Manchicourt
    Pierre de Manchicourt was a Renaissance composer of the Franco-Flemish School.Little is known of his early life other than that he was a choirboy at Arras in 1525; later in life he had a succession of posts in Arras, Tours and Tournai, before going to Spain to be master of the Flemish chapel at...

    , Arcadelt
    Jacques Arcadelt
    Jacques Arcadelt was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in both Italy and France, and principally known as a composer of secular vocal music...

    , Rore
    Cipriano de Rore
    Cipriano de Rore was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in Italy...

    , Willaert and Clemens non Papa
    Jacob Clemens non Papa
    Jacobus Clemens non Papa was a Flemish composer of the Renaissance based for most of his life in Flanders...

  • The Fifth generation (1560-1615/20): Lassus, de Monte
    Philippe de Monte
    Philippe de Monte , sometimes known as Philippus de Monte, was a Flemish composer of the late Renaissance. He was a member of the 3rd generation madrigalists and wrote more madrigals than any other composer of the time...

    , Vaet
    Jacobus Vaet
    Jacobus Vaet was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was a representative of the generation between Josquin and Palestrina, writing smooth polyphony with pervasive imitation, and he was a friend both of Clemens non Papa and Lassus.-Life:...

    , Regnart
    Jacob Regnart
    Jacob Regnart was a Franco-Flemish Renaissance composer. He spent most of his career in Austria and Bohemia, where he wrote both sacred and secular music.-Biography:Regnart was born at Douai...

    , Luython
    Carolus Luython
    Carolus Luython, or French: Charles Luython, was a late composer of the "fifth generation" of the Franco-Flemish school.Luython was born in Antwerp, and was recruited as a child to serve in the choir of Maximilian II in Vienna...

    , Wert
    Giaches de Wert
    Giaches de Wert was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance, active in Italy. Intimately connected with the progressive musical center of Ferrara, he was one of the leaders in developing the style of the late Renaissance madrigal...

    , de Macque
    Giovanni de Macque
    Giovanni de Macque was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque, who spent almost his entire life in Italy...

    , and Rogier
    Philippe Rogier
    Philippe Rogier was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active at the Habsburg court of Philip II in Spain...

    . By this time, many of the composers of polyphonic music were native to Italy and other countries: the Netherlandish style had naturalized on foreign soil, and become a true European style.

The Franco-Flemish Motet

Composed between 1450 and 1520, these motets were typically written for four voices, with all voices being equal. They often exhibit thick, dark textures, with an extended low range. The most notable composers of this style include Ockeghem
Johannes Ockeghem
Johannes Ockeghem was the most famous composer of the Franco-Flemish School in the last half of the 15th century, and is often considered the most...

 and Josquin
Josquin Des Prez
Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] , often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance...

, whose De profundis clamavi ad te, composed between 1500 and 1521, provides a good example.