Johannes Ockeghem

Johannes Ockeghem

Birth
Saint-Ghislain, Arrondissement de Mons, Hainaut, Belgium
Death 6 Feb 1497 (aged 86–87)
Tours, Departement d'Indre-et-Loire, Centre, France
Burial Tours, Departement d'Indre-et-Loire, Centre, France
Plot * Location unconfirmed by historians
Memorial ID 20903254 · View Source
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Composer. An outstanding figure of the early Renaissance period. His music has long been admired for its rhythmic brilliance and timeless, mysterious quality. He wrote the earliest surviving polyphonic setting of the Requiem (the "Missa pro defunctis", c. 1464). Ockeghem's early life is shrouded in mystery. Scholars have determined he was born in Saint-Ghislain, Flanders (now Belgium), but his birthdate is unknown. He first emerges in 1444 as a choir singer at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Antwerp, and two years later he was in France, employed at the chapel of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon. By 1451 Ockeghem had begun his long association with the French court, successively serving Kings Charles VII, Louis XI, and Charles VIII as musician, choirmaster and occasional diplomat. In addition he was appointed treasurer of St. Martin's Abbey in Tours in 1459, a very important position, and awarded several church benefices, including one at Notre Dame in Paris. Apart from brief visits to Spain in 1470 and Flanders in 1484, he traveled very little but somehow managed to become friends with composers Guillaume Dufay, Gilles Binchois, and Antoine Busnois, while his fame spread across Europe. He last appears in Royal Court records in 1488. Ockeghem's retirement years, like his early ones, are obscure. It is generally believed he died in Tours and was interred at St. Martin's, since he left a will there bequeathing his large estate to that church; but burial records for him do not exist and the Abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution. His age was anywhere from 67 to 90. Josquin Des Prez and the philosopher Erasmus were among those who wrote laments at his death. For an artist of such major calibre, dispiritingly few of his compositions survive: the Requiem, 14 Masses (some incomplete), seven motets and 21 songs. All show the hand of a master. As a singer Ockeghem was famed for his bass voice and he wrote for the lower vocal ranges with far more imagination than his contemporaries; this gives his music its distinctive dark coloring. Some of his technical innovations, such as the progressive use of canons in the "Missa prolationum" and the astonishing 36-part "Deo gratius" (anonymous but attributed to him), were being profitably mined by Baroque composers 250 years later. But an intense spirituality is at the heart of Ockeghem's work, what one modern historian called "music of vast contemplation and inward rapture".

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 11 Aug 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 20903254
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Johannes Ockeghem (c.1410–6 Feb 1497), Find A Grave Memorial no. 20903254, citing Abbey of St. Martin (Defunct), Tours, Departement d'Indre-et-Loire, Centre, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave .