Johannes Lupi

Johannes Lupi

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Johannes Lupi was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance
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...

. A representative of the generation after Josquin, he was a minor but skilled composer of polyphony
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 ....

 who was mainly active in Cambrai
Cambrai is a commune in the Nord department in northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.Cambrai is the seat of an archdiocese whose jurisdiction was immense during the Middle Ages. The territory of the Bishopric of Cambrai, roughly coinciding with the shire of Brabant, included...



His birthplace is unknown, but he served in Cambrai as a choirboy. He lived in Cambrai most of his life, only leaving to attend the university in Leuven
Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region, Belgium...

, where he was present from 1522 until 1526. In 1527 he became master of the choirboys at the Cambrai cathedral, a position which typically included housing and boarding them in addition to teaching them music. Several times he was fired from his job, but always re-hired again, usually for failing to discipline his charges but also for poor bookkeeping.

Lupi had an unnamed chronic illness which plagued him increasingly in the 1530s—he had to leave his position because of it in 1535—and which caused his early death.

Style and influence

All of his surviving music is a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

vocal. Only two mass
Mass (music)
The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music...

es survive, but he wrote numerous motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

s and chanson
A chanson is in general any lyric-driven French song, usually polyphonic and secular. A singer specialising in chansons is known as a "chanteur" or "chanteuse" ; a collection of chansons, especially from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, is also known as a chansonnier.-Chanson de geste:The...

s; the motets were collected and printed in 1542 by Pierre Attaingnant
Pierre Attaingnant
Pierre Attaingnant was a French music printer, active in Paris.-Life:Attaingnant is considered to be first large-scale publisher of single-impression movable type for music-printing, thus making it possible to print faster and cheaper than predecessors such as Ottaviano Petrucci...


Stylistically his music was related to that of Nicolas 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...

, and showed the typical tendencies of the generation after Josquin with its densely textured polyphony and rich imitation
Imitation (music)
In music, imitation is when a melody in a polyphonic texture is repeated shortly after its first appearance in a different voice, usually at a different pitch. The melody may vary through transposition, inversion, or otherwise, but retain its original character...

, but Lupi remained extraordinarily sensitive to text-setting, being able to present clearly understandable words even in eight-part counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

. His chansons are particularly notable for their wide range of subject matter, from the serious to the bawdy.

Lupi is sometimes confused with several other musicians of the 16th century. Johannes Lupi was the name of two other obscure figures, neither of whom was a composer. One was active at Nivelles
Nivelles is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant. The Nivelles municipality includes the old communes of Baulers, Bornival, Thines, and Monstreux....

, the other at Antwerp, both in the first half of the century. In addition, there was a composer named Lupus, often referred to by contemporary musicologists as the "Italian Lupus", whose works survive in the Medici Codex
Medici Codex
The Medici Codex of 1518 is a music book prepared for the Pope Leo X, the second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent of the Medici family who was pope from 1513 to 1521....

; another composer named Lupus Hellinck
Lupus Hellinck
Lupus Hellinck was a Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was a prominent composer of masses, as well as German chorales and motets...

, who may be the same as the "Italian Lupus"; and an entire family of musicians named Lupo. Of this family, only Ambrose Lupo
Ambrose Lupo
Ambrose, Ambrosius or Ambrosio Lupo was a court musician and composer to the English court from the time of Henry VIII to that of Elizabeth I and James I, and the first of a dynasty of such court musicians...

, of Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, was active in the early 16th century. Yet another Lupi, Didier Lupi Second
Didier Lupi Second
Didier Lupi Second was a French doctor based in Lyons. In 1548 he published Chansons Spirituelles with the poet Guéroult, the first such important publication of its kind by a Protestant. It includes Susanne un jour, a medical composition which was arranged by many later doctors...

, worked in Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

s around the middle of the century.