Josquin Des Prez

Josquin Des Prez

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Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] (ʒɔskɛ̃ depʁe; – 27 August 1521), often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish
Franco-Flemish School
In music, the Franco-Flemish School or more precisely the Netherlandish School refers, somewhat imprecisely, to the style of polyphonic vocal music composition in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, and to the composers who wrote it...

 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...

. He is also known as Josquin Desprez and Latinized as Josquinus Pratensis, alternatively Jodocus Pratensis, although he himself expressed his preferred spelling of his name, Josquin des Prez, in an acrostic
Acrostic
An acrostic is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message. As a form of constrained writing, an acrostic can be used as a mnemonic device to aid memory retrieval. A famous...

 in his motet Illibata Dei virgo nutrix. He was the most famous European composer between Guillaume 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...

 and Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition...

, and is usually considered to be the central figure of the Franco-Flemish School. Josquin is widely considered by music scholars to be the first master of the high Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 style of polyphonic
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 ....

 vocal music that was emerging during his lifetime.

During the 16th century, Josquin gradually acquired the reputation as the greatest composer of the age, his mastery of technique and expression universally imitated and admired. Writers as diverse as Baldassare Castiglione
Baldassare Castiglione
Baldassare Castiglione, count of was an Italian courtier, diplomat, soldier and a prominent Renaissance author.-Biography:Castiglione was born into an illustrious Lombard family at Casatico, near Mantua, where his family had constructed an impressive palazzo...

 and Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 wrote about his reputation and fame; theorists such as Heinrich Glarean
Heinrich Glarean
Heinrich Glarean was a Swiss music theorist, poet and humanist. He was born in Mollis and died in Freiburg....

 and Gioseffo Zarlino
Gioseffo Zarlino
Gioseffo Zarlino was an Italian music theorist and composer of the Renaissance. He was possibly the most famous music theorist between Aristoxenus and Rameau, and made a large contribution to the theory of counterpoint as well as to musical tuning.-Life:Zarlino was born in Chioggia, near Venice...

 held his style as that best representing perfection. He was so admired that many anonymous compositions were attributed to him by copyists, probably to increase their sales. At least 374 works are attributed to him; it was only after the advent of modern analytical scholarship that some of these mistaken attributions have been challenged, on the basis of stylistic features and manuscript evidence. Yet in spite of Josquin's colossal reputation, which endured until the beginning of the Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 era and was revived in the 20th century, his biography is shadowy, and we know next to nothing about his personality. The only surviving work which may be in his own hand is a graffito on the wall of the Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in Vatican City. It is famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Pinturicchio...

, and only one contemporary mention of his character is known, in a letter to Duke Ercole I
Ercole d'Este I
Ercole I d'Este was Duke of Ferrara from 1471 until 1505. He was a member of the house of Este. He was nicknamed North Wind and the Diamond.-Biography:...

 of Ferrara
Ferrara
Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north...

. The lives of dozens of minor composers of the Renaissance are better documented than the life of Josquin.

Josquin wrote both sacred
Religious music
Religious music is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence.A lot of music has been composed to complement religion, and many composers have derived inspiration from their own religion. Many forms of traditional music have been adapted to fit religions'...

 and secular
Secularity
Secularity is the state of being separate from religion.For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them...

 music, and in all of the significant vocal forms of the age, including masses
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...

, motet
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, chanson
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 and frottole
Frottola
The frottola was the predominant type of Italian popular, secular song of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. It was the most important and widespread predecessor to the madrigal...

. During the 16th century, he was praised for both his supreme melodic
Melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

 gift and his use of ingenious technical devices. In modern times, scholars have attempted to ascertain the basic details of his biography, and have tried to define the key characteristics of his style to correct misattributions, a task that has proved difficult. Josquin liked to solve compositional problems in different ways in successive compositions, as did Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

 more than 400 years later. Sometimes he wrote in an austere style devoid of ornamentation, and at other times he wrote music requiring considerable virtuosity. Heinrich Glarean
Heinrich Glarean
Heinrich Glarean was a Swiss music theorist, poet and humanist. He was born in Mollis and died in Freiburg....

 wrote in 1547 that Josquin was not only a "magnificent virtuoso" (the Latin can be translated also as "show-off") but capable of being a "mocker", using satire
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 effectively. While the focus of scholarship in recent years has been to remove music from the "Josquin canon" (including some of his most famous pieces) and to reattribute it to his contemporaries, the remaining music represents some of the most famous and enduring of the Renaissance.

Birth and early career


Little is known for certain of Josquin's early life. Much is inferential and speculative, though numerous clues have emerged from his works and the writings of contemporary composers, theorists, and writers of the next several generations. Josquin was born in the area controlled by the Dukes of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy was a title borne by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, a small portion of traditional lands of Burgundians west of river Saône which in 843 was allotted to Charles the Bald's kingdom of West Franks...

, and was possibly born either 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....

 (modern-day Belgium
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...

), or immediately across the border in modern-day France, since several times in his life he was classified legally as a Frenchman (for instance, when he made his will). Josquin was long mistaken for a man with a similar name, Josquin de Kessalia, born around the year 1440, who sang in Milan
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 ,...

 from 1459 to 1474, dying in 1498. More recent scholarship has shown that Josquin des Prez was born around 1450 or a few years later, and did not go to Italy until the early 1480s.

Around 1466, perhaps on the death of his father, Josquin was named by his uncle and aunt, Gilles Lebloitte dit Desprez and Jacque Banestonne, as their heir. Their will gives Josquin's actual surname as Lebloitte. According to Matthews and Merkley, "des Prez" was a nickname.

According to an account by Claude Hémeré, a friend and librarian of Cardinal Richelieu whose evidence dates as late as 1633, and who used the records of the collegiate church of Saint-Quentin
Saint-Quentin, Aisne
Saint-Quentin is a commune in the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France. It has been identified as the Augusta Veromanduorum of antiquity. It is named after Saint Quentin, who is said to have been martyred here in the 3rd century....

, Josquin became a choirboy at Saint-Quentin, probably around 1460, and was in charge of its music. He may have studied counterpoint
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,...

 under 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...

, whom he greatly admired throughout his life: this is suggested both by the testimony of Gioseffo Zarlino
Gioseffo Zarlino
Gioseffo Zarlino was an Italian music theorist and composer of the Renaissance. He was possibly the most famous music theorist between Aristoxenus and Rameau, and made a large contribution to the theory of counterpoint as well as to musical tuning.-Life:Zarlino was born in Chioggia, near Venice...

 and Lodovico Zacconi
Lodovico Zacconi
Lodovico Zacconi was an Italian-Austrian composer and musical theorist of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras...

, writing later in the 16th century, and by Josquin's eloquent lament on the death of Ockeghem in 1497, Nymphes des bois/Requiem aeternam
Nymphes des bois
Nymphes des bois, also known as La Déploration de Johannes Ockeghem, is a lament composed by Josquin des Prez on the occasion of the death of his predecessor Johannes Ockeghem in February 1497. The piece, based on a poem by Jean Molinet and including the funeral text Requiem Aeternam as a cantus...

, based on the poem by Jean Molinet
Jean Molinet
Jean Molinet was a French poet, chronicler, and composer. He is best remembered for his prose translation of Roman de la rose.Born in Desvres, which is now part of France, he studied in Paris...

. All records from Saint-Quentin were destroyed in 1669; however the cathedral there was a center of music-making for the entire area, and in addition was an important center of royal patronage. Both Jean Mouton
Jean Mouton
Jean Mouton was a French composer of the Renaissance. He was famous both for his motets, which are among the most refined of the time, and for being the teacher of Adrian Willaert, one of the founders of the Venetian School....

 and Loyset 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...

 were buried there, and it is certainly possible that Josquin acquired his later connections with the French royal chapel through early experiences at Saint-Quentin.

The first definite record of his employment is dated 19 April 1477, and it shows that he was a singer at the chapel of René, Duke of Anjou, in Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en-Provence
Aix , or Aix-en-Provence to distinguish it from other cities built over hot springs, is a city-commune in southern France, some north of Marseille. It is in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, in the département of Bouches-du-Rhône, of which it is a subprefecture. The population of Aix is...

. He remained there at least until 1478. No certain records of his movements exist for the period from March 1478 until 1483, but if he remained in the employ of René he would have transferred to Paris in 1481 along with the rest of the chapel. One of Josquin's early motets, Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo, suggests a direct connection with Louis XI
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

, who was king during this time. In 1483 Josquin returned to Condé to claim his inheritance from his aunt and uncle, who may have been killed by the army of Louis XI in May 1478, when they besieged the town, locked the population into the church, and burned them alive.

Milan


The period of 1480 to 1482 has puzzled biographers: some contradictory evidence exists, suggesting either that Josquin was still in France, or was already in the service of the Sforza
House of Sforza
Sforza was a ruling family of Renaissance Italy, based in Milan.-History:The dynasty was founded by Muzio Attendolo , called Sforza , a condottiero from Romagna serving the Angevin kings of Naples...

 family, specifically with Ascanio Sforza, who had been banished from Milan and resided temporarily in Ferrara or Naples. Residence in Ferrara in the early 1480s could explain the Missa Hercules dux Ferrariae, composed for Ercole d'Este, but which stylistically does not fit with the usual date of 1503–4 when Josquin was known to be in Ferrara. Alternatively it has been suggested that Josquin spent some of that time in Hungary, based on a mid-16th century Roman document describing the Hungarian court in those years, and including Josquin as one of the musicians present.

In either 1483 or 1484 Josquin is known to have been in the service of the Sforza family in Milan. While in their employ, he made one or more trips to Rome, and possibly also to Paris; while in Milan he made the acquaintance of Franchinus Gaffurius
Franchinus Gaffurius
Franchinus Gaffurius was an Italian music theorist and composer of the Renaissance. He was an almost exact contemporary of Josquin des Prez and Leonardo da Vinci, both of whom were his personal friends...

, who was maestro di cappella of the cathedral there. He was in Milan again in 1489, after a possible period of travel; but he left that year.

Rome


From 1489 to 1495 Josquin was a member of the papal choir, first under Pope Innocent VIII
Pope Innocent VIII
Pope Innocent VIII , born Giovanni Battista Cybo , was Pope from 1484 until his death.-Early years:Giovanni Battista Cybo was born at Genoa of Greek extraction...

, and later under the Borgia pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI , born Roderic Llançol i Borja was Pope from 1492 until his death on 18 August 1503. He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, and his Italianized surname—Borgia—became a byword for the debased standards of the Papacy of that era, most notoriously the Banquet...

. He may have gone there as part of a singer exchange with Gaspar van Weerbeke
Gaspar van Weerbeke
Gaspar van Weerbeke was a Netherlandish composer of the Renaissance. He was of the same generation as Josquin des Prez, but unique in his blending of the contemporary Italian style with the older Burgundian style of Dufay.- Life :...

, who went back to Milan at the same time. While there, he may have been the one who carved his name into the wall of the Sistine Chapel; a "JOSQUINJ" was recently revealed by workers restoring the chapel. Since it was traditional for singers to carve their names into the walls, and hundreds of names were inscribed there during the period from the 15th to the 18th centuries, it is considered highly likely that the graffiti is by Josquin – and if so, it would be his only surviving autograph.

Josquin's mature style evolved during this period; as in Milan he had absorbed the influence of light Italian secular music, in Rome he refined his techniques of sacred music. Several of his motets have been dated to the years he spent at the papal chapel.

Departure from Rome; Milan and France


Around 1498 Josquin most likely re-entered the service of the Sforza family, on the evidence of a pair of letters between the Gonzaga
House of Gonzaga
The Gonzaga family ruled Mantua in Northern Italy from 1328 to 1708.-History:In 1433, Gianfrancesco I assumed the title of Marquis of Mantua, and in 1530 Federico II received the title of Duke of Mantua. In 1531, the family acquired the Duchy of Monferrato through marriage...

 and Sforza families. He probably did not stay in Milan long, for in 1499 Louis XII
Louis XII of France
Louis proved to be a popular king. At the end of his reign the crown deficit was no greater than it had been when he succeeded Charles VIII in 1498, despite several expensive military campaigns in Italy. His fiscal reforms of 1504 and 1508 tightened and improved procedures for the collection of taxes...

 captured Milan in his invasion of northern Italy and imprisoned Josquin's former employers. Around this time Josquin most likely returned to France, although documented details of his career around the turn of the 16th century are lacking. Prior to departing Italy he most likely wrote one of his most famous secular compositions, the frottola El grillo, as well as In te Domine speravi ("I have placed my hope in you, Lord"), based on Psalm 30. The latter composition may have been a veiled reference to the religious reformer Girolamo Savonarola
Girolamo Savonarola
Girolamo Savonarola was an Italian Dominican friar, Scholastic, and an influential contributor to the politics of Florence from 1494 until his execution in 1498. He was known for his book burning, destruction of what he considered immoral art, and what he thought the Renaissance—which began in his...

, who had been burned at the stake in Florence in 1498, and for whom Josquin seems to have had a special reverence; the text was the monk's favorite psalm, a meditation on which he left incomplete in prison prior to his execution.

Some of Josquin's compositions, such as the instrumental Vive le roy, have been tentatively dated to the period around 1500 when he was in France. A motet, Memor esto verbi tui servo tuo ("Remember thy promise unto thy servant"), was, according to Heinrich Glarean
Heinrich Glarean
Heinrich Glarean was a Swiss music theorist, poet and humanist. He was born in Mollis and died in Freiburg....

 writing in the Dodecachordon of 1547, composed as a gentle reminder to the king to keep his promise of a benefice
Benefice
A benefice is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The term is now almost obsolete.-Church of England:...

 to Josquin, which he had forgotten to keep. According to Glarean's story, it worked: the court applauded, and the king gave Josquin his benefice. Upon receiving it, Josquin reportedly wrote a motet on the text Benefecisti servo tuo, Domine ("Lord, thou hast dealt graciously with thy servant") to show his gratitude to the king.

Ferrara


Josquin probably remained in the service of Louis XII
Louis XII of France
Louis proved to be a popular king. At the end of his reign the crown deficit was no greater than it had been when he succeeded Charles VIII in 1498, despite several expensive military campaigns in Italy. His fiscal reforms of 1504 and 1508 tightened and improved procedures for the collection of taxes...

 until 1503, when Duke Ercole I
Ercole d'Este I
Ercole I d'Este was Duke of Ferrara from 1471 until 1505. He was a member of the house of Este. He was nicknamed North Wind and the Diamond.-Biography:...

 of Ferrara
Ferrara
Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north...

 hired him for the chapel there. One of the rare mentions of Josquin's personality survives from this time. Prior to hiring Josquin, one of Duke Ercole's assistants recommended that he hire Heinrich 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...

 instead, since Isaac was easier to get along with, more companionable, was more willing to compose on demand, and would cost significantly less (120 ducat
Ducat
The ducat is a gold coin that was used as a trade coin throughout Europe before World War I. Its weight is 3.4909 grams of .986 gold, which is 0.1107 troy ounce, actual gold weight...

s vs. 200). Ercole, however, chose Josquin.

While in Ferrara, Josquin wrote some of his most famous compositions, including the austere, Savonarola
Girolamo Savonarola
Girolamo Savonarola was an Italian Dominican friar, Scholastic, and an influential contributor to the politics of Florence from 1494 until his execution in 1498. He was known for his book burning, destruction of what he considered immoral art, and what he thought the Renaissance—which began in his...

-influenced Miserere
Miserere (Josquin)
The Miserere, by Josquin des Prez, is a motet setting of Psalm 51 for five voices. He composed it while in the employ of Duke Ercole I d'Este in Ferrara, most likely in 1503 or 1504...

, which became one of the most widely-distributed motets of the 16th century; the utterly contrasting, virtuoso motet Virgo salutiferi; and possibly the Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae
Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae
The Missa Hercules dux Ferrariae is a setting of the Ordinary of the Mass composed by Josquin des Prez, and dedicated to Ercole d'Este I, Duke of Ferrara...

, which is written on a cantus firmus
Cantus firmus
In music, a cantus firmus is a pre-existing melody forming the basis of a polyphonic composition.The plural of this Latin term is , though the corrupt form canti firmi is also attested...

 derived from the musical letters in the Duke's name, a technique known as soggetto cavato.

Josquin did not stay in Ferrara long. An outbreak of the plague in the summer of 1503 prompted the evacuation of the Duke and his family, as well as two thirds of the citizens, and Josquin left by April of the next year, possibly also to escape the plague. His replacement, Jacob 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:...

, died of the plague in the summer of 1505, to be replaced by Antoine 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....

 in 1506, who stayed until the disbanding of the chapel in 1510.

Retirement to Condé-sur-l'Escaut


Josquin went directly from Ferrara to his home region of Condé-sur-l'Escaut
Condé-sur-l'Escaut
-Administration:Condé-sur-l'Escaut is the eastern member of the agglomerated Valenciennes metropolitan area, which together administers 35 communes.-References:...

, southeast of Lille
Lille
Lille is a city in northern France . It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium...

 on the present-day border between Belgium and France, becoming provost of the collegiate church of Notre-Dame on 3 May 1504, a large musical establishment that he headed for the rest of his life. While the chapter at Bourges Cathedral asked him to become master of the choirboys there in 1508, it is not known how he responded, and there is no record of his having been employed there; most scholars presume he remained in Condé.

During the last two decades of his life, Josquin's fame spread abroad along with his music. The newly-developed technology of printing made wide dissemination of his music possible, and Josquin was the favorite of the first printers: one of Petrucci
Ottaviano Petrucci
Ottaviano Petrucci was an Italian printer. His Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, a collection of chansons printed in 1501, is commonly misidentified as the first book of sheet music printed from movable type. Actually that distinction belongs to the Roman printer Ulrich Han's Missale Romanum of 1476...

's first publications, and the earliest surviving print of music by a single composer, was a book of Josquin's masses which he printed in Venice in 1502. This publication was successful enough that Petrucci published two further volumes of Josquin's masses, in 1504 and 1514, and reissued them several times.

On his death-bed Josquin asked that he be listed on the rolls as a foreigner, so that his property would not pass to the Lords and Ladies of Condé. This bit of evidence has been used to show that he was French by birth. Additionally, he left an endowment for the performance of his late motet, Pater noster/Ave Maria, at all general processions in the town when they passed in front of his house, stopping to place a wafer on the marketplace altar to the Holy Virgin. Pater noster may have been his last work.

Overview


Josquin lived during a transitional stage in music history. Musical styles were changing rapidly, in part due to the movement of musicians between different regions of Europe. Many northern musicians moved to Italy, the heart of the Renaissance, attracted by the Italian nobility's patronage of the arts; while in Italy, these composers were influenced by the native Italian styles, and often brought those ideas with them back to their homelands. The sinuous musical lines of the Ockeghem generation, the contrapuntal
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,...

 complexity of the Netherlanders, and the homophonic textures of the Italian lauda and secular music began to merge into a unified style; indeed Josquin was to be the leading figure in this musical process, which eventually resulted in the formation of an international musical language, of which the most famous composers included Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition...

 and Lassus
Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance...

.

Josquin likely learned his craft in his home region in the North, in France, and then in Italy when he went to Milan and Rome. His early sacred works emulate the contrapuntal complexity and ornamented, melismatic lines of Ockeghem and his contemporaries, but at the same time he was learning his contrapuntal technique he was acquiring an Italianate idiom for his secular music: after all, he was surrounded by Italian popular music in Milan. By the end of his long creative career, which spanned approximately 50 productive years, he had developed a simplified style in which each voice of a polyphonic composition exhibited free and smooth motion, and close attention was paid to clear setting of text as well as clear alignment of text with musical motifs. While other composers were influential on the development of Josquin's style, especially in the late 15th century, he himself became the most influential composer in Europe, especially after the development of music printing, which was concurrent with the years of his maturity and peak output. This event made his influence even more decisive than it might otherwise have been.

Many "modern" musical compositional practices were being born in the era around 1500. Josquin made extensive use of "motivic cells" in his compositions, short, easily-recognizable melodic fragments which passed from voice to voice in a contrapuntal texture, giving it an inner unity. This is a basic organizational principle in music which has been practiced continuously from approximately 1500 until the present day.

Josquin wrote in all of the important forms current at the time, including masses, motets, chansons, and frottole. He even contributed to the development of a new form, the motet-chanson
Motet-chanson
The motet-chanson was a specialized musical form of the Renaissance, developed in Milan during the 1470s and 1480s, which combined aspects of the contemporary motet and chanson....

, of which he left at least three examples. In addition, some of his pieces were probably intended for instrumental performance.

Each area of his output can be further subdivided by form or by hypothetical period of composition. Since dating Josquin's compositions is particularly problematic, with scholarly consensus only achieved on a minority of works, discussion here is by type.

Masses



Josquin wrote towards the end of the period in which the 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...

 was the predominant form of sacred composition in Europe. The mass, as it had developed through the 15th century, was a long, multi-section form, with opportunities for large-scale structure and organization not possible in the other forms such as the motet
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...

. Josquin wrote some of the most famous examples of the genre, most using some kind of cyclic
Cyclic mass
In Renaissance music, the cyclic mass was a setting of the Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Mass, in which each of the movements – Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei – shared a common musical theme, commonly a cantus firmus, thus making it a unified whole...

 organization.

He wrote masses using the following general techniques, although there is considerable overlap between techniques in individual compositions:
  • cantus firmus mass, in which a pre-existing tune appeared, mostly unchanged, in one voice of the texture, with the other voices being more or less freely composed;
  • paraphrase mass
    Paraphrase mass
    A paraphrase mass is a musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass, using as its basis an elaborated version of a cantus firmus, typically chosen from plainsong or some other sacred source...

    , in which a pre-existing tune was used freely in all voices, and in many variations;
  • parody mass
    Parody mass
    A parody mass is a musical setting of the mass, typically from the 16th century, that uses multiple voices of another pre-existing piece of music, such as a fragment of a motet or a secular chanson, as part of its melodic material. It is distinguished from the two other most prominent types of...

    , in which a pre-existing multi-voice song appeared in whole or in part, with material from all voices in use, not just the tune;
  • soggetto cavato, or solmization
    Solmization
    Solmization is a system of attributing a distinct syllable to each note in a musical scale. Various forms of solmization are in use and have been used throughout the world.In Europe and North America, solfège is the convention used most often...

     mass, in which the tune is drawn from the syllables of a name or phrase (for example "la sol fa re mi" — A, G, F, D, E — based on the syllables of Lascia fare mi ("leave me alone", a phrase used by an unknown patron, in a context around which much legend has arisen).
  • canon
    Canon (music)
    In music, a canon is a contrapuntal composition that employs a melody with one or more imitations of the melody played after a given duration . The initial melody is called the leader , while the imitative melody, which is played in a different voice, is called the follower...

    , in which an entire mass is based on canonic techniques, and no pre-existing material has been identified.


Most of these techniques, particularly paraphrase and parody, become standardized during the first half of the 16th century; Josquin was very much a pioneer, and what was perceived as mixing of these techniques by later observers was actually the process by which they were created.

Josquin was fond of canonic techniques, as were many other composers of his generation, and canon appears in all of his masses, sometimes to the exclusion of other structural devices.

Cantus-firmus masses


Prior to Josquin's mature period, the most common technique for writing masses was the cantus firmus, a technique which had been in use already for most of the 15th century. It was the technique that Josquin used earliest in his career, with the Missa L'ami Baudichon, possibly his first mass. This mass is based on a secular – indeed ribald – tune similar to "Three Blind Mice". That basing a mass on such a source was an accepted procedure is evident from the existence of the mass in Sistine Chapel part-books copied during the papacy of Julius II
Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II , nicknamed "The Fearsome Pope" and "The Warrior Pope" , born Giuliano della Rovere, was Pope from 1503 to 1513...

 (1503 to 1513).

Josquin's most famous cantus-firmus masses are the two based on the L'homme armé
L'homme armé
L'homme armé was a French secular song from the time of the Renaissance. It was the most popular tune used for musical settings of the Ordinary of the Mass: over 40 separate compositions entitled Missa L'homme armé survive from the period....

 tune, which was the favorite tune for mass composition of the entire Renaissance. The earlier of the two, Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales
Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales
The Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales is the first of the two settings of the Ordinary of the Mass, by Josquin des Prez, which use the famous L'homme armé tune as their cantus firmus source material; . The setting is for four voices...

, is a technical tour-de-force on the tune, containing numerous mensuration canons
Prolation canon
In music, a prolation canon or mensuration canon is a type of canon, a musical composition wherein the main melody is accompanied by one or more imitations of that melody in other voices. Not only do the voices sing or play the same melody, they do so at different speeds...

 and contrapuntal display. It was by far the most famous of all his masses. The second, Missa L'homme armé sexti toni
Missa L'homme armé sexti toni
Missa L'homme armé sexti toni is probably the later of two L'homme arme masses by Josquin des Prez - 'sexti toni' refers to the use of the 'sixth mode'. The theme is shared between all voices rather than being confined to the tenor, as in Josquin's earlier L'homme armé mass...

, is a "fantasia on the theme of the armed man." While based on a cantus firmus, it is also a paraphrase mass, for fragments of the tune appear in all voices. Technically it is almost restrained, compared to the other L'homme armé mass, until the closing Agnus Dei, which contains a complex canonic structure including a rare retrograde canon, around which other voices are woven.

Paraphrase masses


The paraphrase technique
Paraphrase mass
A paraphrase mass is a musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass, using as its basis an elaborated version of a cantus firmus, typically chosen from plainsong or some other sacred source...

 differs from the cantus-firmus technique in that the source material, though it still consists of a monophonic original, is embellished, often with ornaments. As in the cantus-firmus technique, the source tune may appear in many voices of the mass.

Several of Josquin's masses feature the paraphrase technique, and they include some of his most famous work. The relatively early Missa Ave maris stella, which probably dates from his years in the Sistine Chapel choir, paraphrases the Marian antiphon of the same name
Ave Maris Stella
Ave Maris Stella is a plainsong Vespers hymn to Mary. It is of uncertain origin and can be dated back at least as far as the eighth century. It was especially popular in the Middle Ages and has been used by many composers as the basis of other compositions...

; it is also one of his shortest masses. The late Missa de Beata Virgine paraphrases plainchants in praise of the Virgin Mary; it is a Lady Mass, a votive mass for Saturday performance, and was his most popular mass in the 16th century.

By far the most famous of Josquin's masses using the technique, and one of the most famous mass settings of the entire era, was the Missa pange lingua
Missa Pange lingua
The Missa Pange lingua is a musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass by Franco-Flemish composer Josquin des Prez, probably dating from around 1515, near the end of his life...

, based on the hymn by Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 for the Vespers of Corpus Christi. It was probably the last mass that Josquin composed. This mass is an extended fantasia
Fantasia (music)
The fantasia is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. Because of this, it seldom approximates the textbook rules of any strict musical form ....

 on the tune, using the melody in all voices and in all parts of the mass, in elaborate and ever-changing polyphony. One of the high points of the mass is the et incarnatus est section of the Credo, where the texture becomes homophonic, and the tune appears in the topmost voice; here the portion which would normally set "Sing, O my tongue, of the mystery of the divine body" is instead given the words "And he became incarnate by the Holy Ghost from the Virgin Mary, and was made man."

Parody masses, masses on popular songs


In parody masses, the source material was not a single line, but an entire texture, often of a popular song. Several works by Josquin fall loosely into this category, including the Missa Fortuna desperata, based on the three-voice song Fortuna desperata
Fortuna desperata
Fortuna desperata is a secular Italian song, possibly originally by Busnois, . It was used by many other authors in the following 75 years, for both variations and cantus firmus masses, and over 30 such reworkings are known....

 (possibly by 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...

); the Missa Malheur me bat (based on a chanson variously ascribed to 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:...

, 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...

, or, most likely, Abertijne Malcourt
Abertijne Malcourt
Abertijne Malcourt was a Flemish singer, music copyist, and composer of the Renaissance, principally active at the end of the 15th century, contemporary with Johannes Ockeghem...

); and the Missa Mater Patris, based on a three-voice motet by Antoine 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....

. The Missa Mater Patris is probably the first true parody mass to be composed, for it no longer contains any hint of a cantus firmus. Parody technique was to become the most usual means of mass composition for the remainder of the 16th century, although the mass gradually fell out of favor as the motet grew in esteem.

Masses on solmization syllables


The earliest known mass by any composer using this method of composition – the soggetto cavato – is the Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae
Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae
The Missa Hercules dux Ferrariae is a setting of the Ordinary of the Mass composed by Josquin des Prez, and dedicated to Ercole d'Este I, Duke of Ferrara...

, which Josquin probably wrote in the early 1480s for the powerful Ercole I
Ercole d'Este I
Ercole I d'Este was Duke of Ferrara from 1471 until 1505. He was a member of the house of Este. He was nicknamed North Wind and the Diamond.-Biography:...

, Duke of Ferrara. The notes of the cantus firmus are drawn from the musical syllables of the Duke's own name: Re – Ut – Re – Ut – Re – Fa – Mi – Re. Another mass using this technique is the Missa La sol fa re mi
Missa La sol fa re mi
The Missa La sol fa re mi is a musical setting of the mass by Josquin des Prez, first published in 1502. It is one of his most famous masses, and one of the earliest and most renowned examples of the soggetto cavato technique – the technique of deriving musical notes from the syllables of a...

, based on the musical syllables contained in "Lascia fare mi" ("leave me alone!"). The story, as told by Glareanus
Heinrich Glarean
Heinrich Glarean was a Swiss music theorist, poet and humanist. He was born in Mollis and died in Freiburg....

 in 1547, was that an unknown aristocrat used to order suitors away with this phrase, and Josquin immediately wrote an "exceedingly elegant" mass on it as a jab at him.

Canonic masses



Canonic masses came into increasing prominence in the latter part of the 15th century. Early examples include Ockeghem's famous Missa prolationum
Missa prolationum
The Missa prolationum is a musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass, by Johannes Ockeghem, dating from the second half of the 15th century...

, consisting entirely of mensuration canons, the Missa L'homme armé of Guillaume 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...

, whose cantus firmus is presented in canon at the descending fifth, and the Missa [Ad fugam] of Marbrianus de 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,...

, based on freely composed canons at the fifth between superius and tenor. Josquin makes use of canon in the Osanna and Agnus Dei III of the Missa L'homme armé sexti toni, throughout the Missa Sine nomine, and in the final three movements of the Missa De beata virgine. The Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales
Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales
The Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales is the first of the two settings of the Ordinary of the Mass, by Josquin des Prez, which use the famous L'homme armé tune as their cantus firmus source material; . The setting is for four voices...

 incorporates mensuration canons in the Kyrie, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei II.

Motets


Josquin's motet style varied from almost strictly homophonic settings with block chords and syllabic text declamation to highly ornate contrapuntal fantasias, to the psalm settings which combined these extremes with the addition of rhetorical figures and text-painting that foreshadowed the later development of the madrigal. He wrote many of his motets for four voices, an ensemble size which had become the compositional norm around 1500, and he also was a considerable innovator in writing motets for five and six voices. No motets of more than six voices have been reliably attributed to Josquin.


Almost all of Josquin's motets use some kind of compositional constraint on the process; they are not freely composed. Some of them use a cantus firmus as a unifying device; some are canonic; some use a motto which repeats throughout; some use several of these methods. The motets that use canon can be roughly divided into two groups: those in which the canon is plainly designed to be heard and appreciated as such, and another group in which a canon is present, but almost impossible to hear, and seemingly written to be appreciated by the eye, and by connoisseurs.

Josquin frequently used imitation, especially paired imitation, in writing his motets, with sections akin to fugal expositions occurring on successive lines of the text he was setting. An example is his setting of Dominus regnavit (Psalm 93), for four voices; each of the lines of the psalm begins with a voice singing a new tune alone, quickly followed by entries of other three voices in imitation.

In writing polyphonic settings of psalms, Josquin was a pioneer, and psalm settings form a large proportion of the motets of his later years. Few composers prior to Josquin had written polyphonic psalm settings. Some of Josquin's settings include the famous Miserere
Miserere (Josquin)
The Miserere, by Josquin des Prez, is a motet setting of Psalm 51 for five voices. He composed it while in the employ of Duke Ercole I d'Este in Ferrara, most likely in 1503 or 1504...

, written in Ferrara in 1503 or 1504 and most likely inspired by the recent execution of the reformist monk Girolamo Savonarola, Memor esto verbi tui, based on Psalm 119, and two settings of De profundis
Psalm 130
Psalm 130 , traditionally De profundis from its Latin incipit, is one of the Penitential psalms.-Commentary:...

 (Psalm 130), both of which are often considered to be among his most significant accomplishments.

Chansons and instrumental compositions



In the domain of secular music, Josquin left numerous French chanson
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, for from three to six voices, as well as a handful of Italian secular songs known as frottole
Frottola
The frottola was the predominant type of Italian popular, secular song of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. It was the most important and widespread predecessor to the madrigal...

, as well as some pieces which were probably intended for instrumental performance. Problems of attribution are even more acute with the chansons than they are with other portions of his output: while about 70 three and four-voice chansons were published under his name during his lifetime, only six of the more than thirty five- and six-voice chansons attributed to him were circulated under his name during the same time. Many of the attributions added after his death are considered to be unreliable, and much work has been done in the last decades of the 20th century to correct attributions on stylistic grounds.

Josquin's earliest chansons were probably composed in northern Europe, under the influence of composers such as Ockeghem and Busnois. Unlike them, however, he never adhered strictly to the conventions of the formes fixes
Formes fixes
A Forme fixé is any one of three fourteenth and fifteenth centuries French poetic forms, the ballade, rondeau and virelai...

 – the rigid and complex repetition patterns of the rondeau
Rondeau (music)
The rondeau was a Medieval and early Renaissance musical form, based on the contemporary popular poetic rondeau form. It is distinct from the 18th century rondo, though the terms are likely related...

, virelai
Virelai
A virelai is a form of medieval French verse used often in poetry and music. It is one of the three formes fixes and was one of the most common verse forms set to music in Europe from the late thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries.A virelai is similar to a rondeau...

, and ballade – instead he often wrote his early chansons in strict 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...

, a feature they shared with many of his sacred works. He was one of the first composers of chansons to make all voices equal parts of the texture; and many of his chansons contain points of imitation, in the manner of motets. However he did use melodic repetition, especially where the lines of text rhymed, and many of his chansons had a lighter texture, as well a faster tempo, than his motets.

Inside of his chansons, he often used a cantus firmus, sometimes a popular song whose origin can no longer be traced, as in Si j'avoye Marion. Other times he used a tune originally associated with a separate text; and still other times he freely composed an entire song, using no apparent external source material. Another technique he sometimes used was to take a popular song and write it as a canon with itself, in two inner voices, and write new melodic material above and around it, to a new text: he used this technique in one of his most famous chansons, Faulte d'argent ("The problem with money"), a song sung by a man who wakes in bed with a prostitute, broke and unable to pay her.

Some of his chansons were doubtless designed to be performed instrumentally. That Petrucci published many of them without text is strong evidence of this; additionally, some of the pieces (for example, the fanfare-like Vive le roy) contain writing more idiomatic for instruments than voices.

Josquin's most famous chansons circulated widely in Europe. Some of the better known include his lament
Lament
A lament or lamentation is a song, poem, or piece of music expressing grief, regret, or mourning.-History:Many of the oldest and most lasting poems in human history have been laments. Laments are present in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and laments continued to be sung in elegiacs accompanied by...

 on the death of Ockeghem, Nymphes des bois/Requiem aeternam
Nymphes des bois
Nymphes des bois, also known as La Déploration de Johannes Ockeghem, is a lament composed by Josquin des Prez on the occasion of the death of his predecessor Johannes Ockeghem in February 1497. The piece, based on a poem by Jean Molinet and including the funeral text Requiem Aeternam as a cantus...

; Mille regretz
Mille Regretz
Mille Regretz is a French chanson which in its 4 part setting is usually credited to Josquin des Prez. Josquin's version is in the Phrygian mode...

 (the attribution of which has recently been questioned); Plus nulz regretz; and Je me complains.

In addition to his French chansons, he wrote at least three pieces in the manner of the Italian frottola
Frottola
The frottola was the predominant type of Italian popular, secular song of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. It was the most important and widespread predecessor to the madrigal...

, a popular Italian song form which he would have encountered during his years in Milan. These songs include Scaramella, El grillo, and In te domine speravi. They are even simpler in texture than his French chansons, being almost uniformly syllabic and homophonic, and they remain among the most frequently sung portions of his output.

Motet-chansons


While in Milan, Josquin wrote several examples of a new type of piece developed by the composers there, the motet-chanson
Motet-chanson
The motet-chanson was a specialized musical form of the Renaissance, developed in Milan during the 1470s and 1480s, which combined aspects of the contemporary motet and chanson....

. These compositions were texturally very similar to 15th century chansons in the formes fixes
Formes fixes
A Forme fixé is any one of three fourteenth and fifteenth centuries French poetic forms, the ballade, rondeau and virelai...

 mold, except that unlike those completely secular works, they contained a 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...

-derived Latin cantus-firmus in the lowest of the three voices. The other voices, in French, sang a secular text which had either a symbolic relationship to the sacred Latin text, or commented on it. Josquin's three known motet-chansons, Que vous madame/In pace, A la mort/Monstra te esse matrem, and Fortune destrange plummaige/Pauper sum ego, are similar stylistically to those by the other composers of the Milan chapel, such as Loyset 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...

 and Alexander 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...

.

Influence


Josquin's fame lasted throughout the 16th century, and indeed increased for several decades after his death. Zarlino
Gioseffo Zarlino
Gioseffo Zarlino was an Italian music theorist and composer of the Renaissance. He was possibly the most famous music theorist between Aristoxenus and Rameau, and made a large contribution to the theory of counterpoint as well as to musical tuning.-Life:Zarlino was born in Chioggia, near Venice...

, writing in the 1580s, was still using examples from Josquin in his treatises on composition; and Josquin's fame was only eclipsed after the beginning of the Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 era, with the decline of the pre-tonal polyphonic style. During the 18th and 19th centuries Josquin's fame was overshadowed by later Roman School
Roman School
In music history, the Roman School was a group of composers of predominantly church music, in Rome, during the 16th and 17th centuries, therefore spanning the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. The term also refers to the music they produced...

 composer Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition...

, whose music was seen as the summit of polyphonic refinement, and codified into a system of composition by theorists such as Johann Fux
Johann Fux
Johann Joseph Fux was an Austrian composer, music theorist and pedagogue of the late Baroque era. He is most famous as the author of Gradus ad Parnassum, a treatise on counterpoint, which has become the single most influential book on the Palestrina style of Renaissance polyphony...

; however, during the 20th century, Josquin's reputation has grown steadily, to the point where scholars again consider him "the greatest and most successful composer of the age." According to Richard Sherr, writing in the introduction to the Josquin Companion, addressing specifically the shrinking of Josquin's canon due to correction of misattributions, "Josquin will survive because his best music really is as magnificent as everybody has always said it was."

Since the 1950s Josquin's reputation has been boosted by the increasing availability of recordings, of which there are many, and the rise of ensembles specializing in the performance of 16th century vocal music, many of which consider Josquin's output to be at the heart of their repertory.

Media



Works list


The difficulties in compiling a works list for Josquin cannot be overstated. Because of his immense prestige in the early sixteenth century, many scribes and publishers did not resist the temptation of attributing anonymous or otherwise spurious works to Josquin. The German editor Georg Forster summed up the situation admirably in 1540 when he wrote, "Now that Josquin is dead, he is putting out more works than when he was alive." Thus, the authenticity of many of the works listed below is disputed.

Masses

  1. Missa Ave maris stella (Rome, 1486–1495) (4 voices)
  2. Missa D'ung aultre amer (4 voices; authorship questioned by Jeremy Noble)
  3. Missa de Beata Virgine (around 1510) (4 voices in parts I–II, 5 voices in parts III–V)
  4. Missa Di dadi (=N'aray je jamais) (4 voices; authorship doubted by some scholars)
  5. Missa Faisant regretz (4 voices)
  6. Missa Fortuna desperata (4 voices)
  7. Missa Gaudeamus (4 voices)
  8. Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae
    Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae
    The Missa Hercules dux Ferrariae is a setting of the Ordinary of the Mass composed by Josquin des Prez, and dedicated to Ercole d'Este I, Duke of Ferrara...

     (Ferrara, 1503/04) (4 voices, 6 in Agnus III)
  9. Missa La sol fa re mi
    Missa La sol fa re mi
    The Missa La sol fa re mi is a musical setting of the mass by Josquin des Prez, first published in 1502. It is one of his most famous masses, and one of the earliest and most renowned examples of the soggetto cavato technique – the technique of deriving musical notes from the syllables of a...

     (4 voices)
  10. Missa L'ami Baudichon (4 voices)
  11. Missa L'homme armé sexti toni
    Missa L'homme armé sexti toni
    Missa L'homme armé sexti toni is probably the later of two L'homme arme masses by Josquin des Prez - 'sexti toni' refers to the use of the 'sixth mode'. The theme is shared between all voices rather than being confined to the tenor, as in Josquin's earlier L'homme armé mass...

     (4 voices, 6 in Agnus III)
  12. Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales
    Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales
    The Missa L'homme armé super voces musicales is the first of the two settings of the Ordinary of the Mass, by Josquin des Prez, which use the famous L'homme armé tune as their cantus firmus source material; . The setting is for four voices...

     (4 voices)
  13. Missa Malheur me bat (4 voices, 6 in Agnus III)
  14. Missa Mater patris (4 voices; authorship doubted by some scholars)
  15. Missa Pange lingua
    Missa Pange lingua
    The Missa Pange lingua is a musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass by Franco-Flemish composer Josquin des Prez, probably dating from around 1515, near the end of his life...

     (Condé, around 1514) (4 voices)
  16. Missa Sine nomine
    Missa Sine nomine
    A Missa sine nomine, literally a "Mass without a name", is a musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass, usually from the Renaissance, which uses no pre-existing musical source material, as was normally the case in mass composition...

     (4 voices; canonic mass, originally titled "Missa Ad fugam")


Doubtful works:
  1. Missa Ad fugam (4 voices)
  2. Missa Da pacem (4 voices)
  3. Missa Une musque de Biscaye (4 voices)

Mass fragments


Of questionable authenticity, with the exception of the Credo De tous biens playne:
  1. Credo Chascun me crie (= Des rouges nez)
  2. Credo De tous biens playne
  3. Credo Vilayge (II)
  4. Credo [Quarti toni] (canonic)
  5. Gloria De beata virgine
  6. Sanctus De passione
  7. Sanctus D'ung aultre amer
  8. Credo Vilayge (I)
  9. Credo La belle se siet (probably Robert de Févin
    Robert de Févin
    Robert de Févin was a French composer of the Renaissance. He was the brother of Antoine de Févin, a considerably more famous composer at the court of Louis XII of France...

    )

Motets

  1. Absalon, fili mi (4vv) (attribution has been challenged; possibly Pierre 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...

    )
  2. Absolve, quaesumus, Domine/Requiem aeternam (6vv) (attribution has been challenged)
  3. Alma redemptoris mater;
  4. Alma redemptoris mater / Ave regina caelorum;
  5. Ave Maria, gratia plena ... benedicta tu (4vv);
  6. Ave Maria, gratia plena ... Virgo serena (Milan
    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 ,...

     1484/85);
  7. Ave munda spes, Maria (not in first complete works edition)
  8. Ave nobilissima creatura
  9. Ave verum corpus natum
  10. Benedicta es, caelorum regina
  11. Christum ducem, qui per crucem (4vv)
  12. De profundis clamavi (4vv) (possibly middle-period composition: attribution has been questioned)
  13. De profundis clamavi (5vv) (late composition)
  14. Domine exaudi orationem meam
  15. Domine, ne in fuore tuo (4vv)
  16. Domine, non secundum peccata nostra (2-4vv; for Rome)
  17. Ecce, tu pulchra es, amica mea
  18. Factum est autem
  19. Gaude virgo, mater Christi
  20. Homo quidam fecit cenam magnam
  21. Honor, decus, imperium
  22. Huc me sydereo descendere jussit Olympo (5vv)
  23. Illibata Dei virgo nutrix
  24. In exitu Israel de Aegypto
  25. In illo tempore assumpsit Jesus doudecim disciplus
  26. Iniquos odio habui (4vv, only tenor part survives)
  27. In principio erat Verbum (authenticity has been questioned)
  28. Inviolata, integra et casta es, Maria
  29. Jubilate Deo omnis terra
  30. Liber generationis Jesu Christi
  31. Magnificat quarti toni (attributed to Josquin on stylistic grounds)
  32. Magnificat terii toni (attributed to Josquin on stylistic grounds)
  33. Memor esto verbi tui
  34. Miserere mei Deus
    Miserere (Josquin)
    The Miserere, by Josquin des Prez, is a motet setting of Psalm 51 for five voices. He composed it while in the employ of Duke Ercole I d'Este in Ferrara, most likely in 1503 or 1504...

     (Ferrara, 1503)
  35. Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo (France, 1480/83)
  36. Missus est Gabriel angelus ad Mariam Virginem
  37. Mittit ad virginem
  38. Monstra te esse matrem
  39. O admirabile commercium (part of a 5-motet cycle)
  40. O bone et dulcissime Jesu
  41. O Domine Jesu Christe (part of a Passion setting in 5 sections)
  42. O virgo prudentissima
  43. O virgo virginum
  44. Pater noster, qui es in caelis (Condé, 1505–1521)
  45. Planxit autem David
  46. Praeter rerum seriem
  47. Qui edunt me adhuc
  48. Qui habitat in adiutorio altissimi
  49. Qui velatus facie fuisti (part of a Passion setting in 6 sections)
  50. Salve regina (4vv)
  51. Salve regina (5vv, 1502)
  52. Stabat Mater
  53. Tu lumen, tu splendor
  54. Tu solus qui facis mirabilia
  55. Usquequo Domine oblivisceris me (attrib on stylistic grounds; only part survives)
  56. Ut Phoebi radiis
  57. Veni, sancte spiritus (also attrib to Forestier)
  58. Victimae paschali laudes
  59. Virgo prudentissima
  60. Virgo salutiferi (Ferrara, 1504/05)
  61. Vultum tuum deprecabuntur (7-part Passion cycle) (1480s)

Motet-chansons

  1. A la mort / Monstra te esse matrem
  2. Fortune destrange plummaige/Pauper sum ego
  3. Que vous madame / In pace in idipsum

Chansons

  1. A l'heure que je vous
  2. A l'ombre d'ung buissonet, au matinet (3vv)
  3. Adieu mes amours
    Adieu mes amours
    Adieu mes amours was a popular secular monophonic chanson of the late 15th century. Many settings of this tune are in fact based on the c. 1480 setting by Josquin des Prez, in which the lower two voices are in quasi-canon, and the upper two voices are freer. The tune itself is in a simple ABA' form...

  4. Adieu mes amours (6vv or 7vv)
  5. Baisé moy, ma doulce amye (4vv)
  6. Belle, pour l'amour de vous
  7. Bergerette savoyenne
  8. Cela sans plus
  9. Comment peult haver joye
  10. Cueur langoreulx
  11. De tous biens plaine (3vv)
  12. De tous biens plaine
    De tous biens plaine
    De tous biens plaine is a French chanson, usually credited to Hayne van Ghizeghem, who wrote a 3-part version, published by Petrucci in 1501. Amongst other reworkings are a four-part version by Josquin and two 3-part versions by Alexander Agricola....

     (4vv)
  13. Douleur me bat
  14. Du mien amant
  15. Dulces exuviae
  16. En l'ombre d'ung buissonet tout, au long (3vv)
  17. En l'ombre d'ung buissonet tout, au long (4vv)
  18. Entré je suis en grant pensée (3vv)
  19. Entré je suis en grant pensée (4vv)
  20. Fama malum
  21. Faulte d'argent
  22. Fors seulement
    Fors seulement
    Fors seulement is a French chanson, popular as a basis for variations and as a cantus firmus. An early version is attributed to Ockeghem - this is sometimes called Fors seulement l'attente to distinguish it from his similarly titled Fors seulement contre.Brumel wrote a polytextual version,...

     (only one of six voice parts survives)
  23. Fortuna d'un gran tempo
  24. Helas madame
  25. Ile fantazies de Joskin
  26. Incessament livré suis à martire
  27. Je me complains
  28. Je n'ose plus
  29. Je ris et si ay larme
  30. Je sey bien dire
  31. La belle se siet
  32. La Bernardina
  33. La plus de plus
  34. Le villain [jaloux]
  35. Ma bouche rit et mon cueur pleure
  36. Mille Regretz
    Mille Regretz
    Mille Regretz is a French chanson which in its 4 part setting is usually credited to Josquin des Prez. Josquin's version is in the Phrygian mode...

      (4 voices)
  37. Mon mary m'a diffamée
  38. N'esse pas ung grant desplaisir
  39. Nymphes des bois
    Nymphes des bois
    Nymphes des bois, also known as La Déploration de Johannes Ockeghem, is a lament composed by Josquin des Prez on the occasion of the death of his predecessor Johannes Ockeghem in February 1497. The piece, based on a poem by Jean Molinet and including the funeral text Requiem Aeternam as a cantus...

     (written for the death of Johannes 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...

    )
  40. Nymphes, nappés / Circumdederunt me
  41. Parfons regretz
  42. Petite camusette;
  43. Plaine de dueil
  44. Plus n'estes ma maistresse
  45. Plus nulz regretz (written between 1508 and 1511, commemorating the 1507 Treaty of Calais);
  46. Plusieurs regretz
  47. Pour souhaitter
  48. Quant je vous voye
  49. Qui belles amours a
  50. Recordans de my signora
  51. Regretz sans fin;
  52. Se congié prens
  53. Si j'ay perdu mon amy (3vv)
  54. Si j'ay perdu mon amy (4vv)
  55. Tant vous aimme Bergeronette
  56. Tenz moy en voz bras
  57. Une mousque de Biscaye;
  58. Vive le roy (instrumental piece, written for Louis XII)
  59. Vous l'arez, s'il vous plaist
  60. Vous ne l'arez pas
  61. textless (4vv)

Frottole

  1. El Grillo
  2. In te Domine speravi per trovar pietà
  3. Scaramella va alla guerra

Recordings

  • 1993 – Renaissance-polyfonie in Brugge. The Songbook of Zeghere van Male.. Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca is a vocal and instrumental early music consort based in Leuven, Belgium. The group specialises in 14th to 16th Century music from Flanders and takes its name from the choir of the court chapel of Emperor Charles V...

    . Eufoda 1155. Contains a recording of O intemerata and Mille regretz
    Mille Regretz
    Mille Regretz is a French chanson which in its 4 part setting is usually credited to Josquin des Prez. Josquin's version is in the Phrygian mode...

    .
  • 1996 – Pierre 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...

     . Missa Alleluia. Music at the Burgundy Court. Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca is a vocal and instrumental early music consort based in Leuven, Belgium. The group specialises in 14th to 16th Century music from Flanders and takes its name from the choir of the court chapel of Emperor Charles V...

    . Eufoda 1232. Contains a recording of Gaude Virgo and Huc me sidereo by Josquin des Prez
  • 1996 – Oh Flanders Free. Music of the Flemish Renaissance: Ockeghem, Josquin, Susato, 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...

    . Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca is a vocal and instrumental early music consort based in Leuven, Belgium. The group specialises in 14th to 16th Century music from Flanders and takes its name from the choir of the court chapel of Emperor Charles V...

    . Alamire LUB 03, Naxos 8.554516. Contains a recording of El grillo, Guillaume se va chaufer and Kyrie from Missa la sol fa re mi by Josquin des Prez
  • 1998 – Margarete – Maximilian I. Musik um 1500. Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca is a vocal and instrumental early music consort based in Leuven, Belgium. The group specialises in 14th to 16th Century music from Flanders and takes its name from the choir of the court chapel of Emperor Charles V...

     with La Caccia, Schola Cantorum Cantate Domino Aalst, Schola Gregoriana Lovaniensis. ORF Shop CD 265 (2 CDs). Contains a recording of Adieu mes amours by Josquin des Prez.
  • 2000 – Magic. Flanders Recorder Quartet
    Flanders Recorder Quartet
    The Flanders Recorder Quartet is a professional recorder group whose members are Bart Spanhove, Tom Beets, Joris van Goethem and Paul van Loey. The quartet is one of a handful of ensembles inspiring a recorder renaissance...

     and friends. Contains a recording of Mille Regretz
    Mille Regretz
    Mille Regretz is a French chanson which in its 4 part setting is usually credited to Josquin des Prez. Josquin's version is in the Phrygian mode...

     and Scaramella by Josquin des Prez.
  • 2002 – Pierre 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...

    : Missa de septem doloribus. Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca is a vocal and instrumental early music consort based in Leuven, Belgium. The group specialises in 14th to 16th Century music from Flanders and takes its name from the choir of the court chapel of Emperor Charles V...

     and Psallentes. MEW 0207. Contains a recording of Stabat mater by Josquin des Prez.
  • 2005 – Dulcis Melancholia. Biographie musicale de Marguerite d’Autriche. Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca is a vocal and instrumental early music consort based in Leuven, Belgium. The group specialises in 14th to 16th Century music from Flanders and takes its name from the choir of the court chapel of Emperor Charles V...

    . MEW 0525. Contains a recording of Belle pour l'amour de vous, Plus nulz regretz and Que vous madame / In pace by Josquin Desprez.
  • 2007 – Désir D'aymer. Love Lyrics Around 1500: From Flanders To Italy. Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca
    Capilla Flamenca is a vocal and instrumental early music consort based in Leuven, Belgium. The group specialises in 14th to 16th Century music from Flanders and takes its name from the choir of the court chapel of Emperor Charles V...

    . Eufoda 1369. Contains a recording of Baisés moy (4 voices and 6 voices) and O venus bant by Josquin des Prez.
  • 2007 – Salve Mater Salve Jesu. Chant and Polyphony From Bohemia Around 1500. Capilla Flamenca and Schola Gregoriana Pragensis, with Barbara Maria Willi. KTC 1346. Contains a recording of Qui velatus facie fuisti by Josquin des Prez.

External links