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 Josquin Des Prez

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Josquin Des Prez

Composer. Often referred to as "Josquin", he was regarded by his contemporaries as the greatest musician of his era. In his vocal works he broke new ground in unifying text and music and his melodies are unsurpassed in their profound expressiveness. Almost nothing is known of Josquin's early life. He was probably born in Conde-sur-l'Escaut, France, but the birthdate is only approximate. From the 1450s he worked as a singer at several Italian courts and churches and from 1486 to 1494 he was the highest-paid vocalist in the Papal Choir in Rome. His last years (from 1504) were spent at Conde under the patronage of Marguerite of Austria, regent of the Netherlands, who appointed him provost of the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame; he was interred there beneath the choir area. Marguerite later erected a memorial to him at the Cathedral of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula in Brussels. Josquin's surviving output includes roughly 80 motets, 20 Masses, and 70 secular songs. His genius is best revealed in the motets, where he was free to choose the texts and let inspiration be his guide. In the "Ave Maria", "Salve Regina", "Absalom, fili mi", and "Domine Jesu Christe" he combined the contrapuntal style of the North with the more harmonious writing of the Italian school, while boldly experimenting with form, rhythm, and ostinato. Among his other compositions are the "De profundis", "Missa Da Pacem", and the songs "El Grillo", "Adieu mes amours" and "Mille regretz". At the time of his death, and for a century afterward, Josquin's reputation as a composer was the most honored in Europe. Martin Luther said of him admiringly, "Josquin is a unique master of the notes, which must do as he desires. Other composers do what the notes dictate". He has also been called "The Beethoven of the Renaissance", not only for his forceful originality but for his independent attitude as an artist. Fully aware of his worth, he demanded (and received) top fees for his work and could be amazingly insolent towards his patrons. (In two vocal pieces he upbraided his employer for being stingy). Following the Baroque period Josquin was largely forgotten, but he has since resumed his place among the giants of Early Music.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 17 Jul 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 20487190
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Josquin Des Prez (1440–27 Aug 1521), Find A Grave Memorial no. 20487190, citing Cathedral of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula, Brussels, Arrondissement Brussel-Hoofdstad, Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium ; Maintained by Find A Grave .