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Josquin Desprez

1455 - August 27, 1521
born in Hainaut, Belgium, composed during the Renaissance period
"Master of the notes," Martin Luther called him. To contemporary prelates, Josquin was an adornment worthy of a world-class court; to music publishers, his was the name that assured sales; and other composers claimed his tutelage to improve their own image. Josquin's music is regarded as one of the great treasures of Western culture. Furthermore, in his compositions, music historians have seen a crucial link in the development of the Renaissance "Central Musical Language." And yet, a reliable biography of this pivotal figure has remained maddeningly elusive. As of the year 2000, the edifice of the textbook biography was overthrown by new archival discoveries. At least three prominent musicians of his time were called "Josquin"; the presence of another in Milan has bewildered "our" Josquin's biographers by suggesting a 1440 birth date and a surprisingly mediocre early career in Italy. (Similar confusion would ensue from the discovery of two Elizabethan playwrights named William Shakespeare.) The Josquin who would cast his mythic shadow across the centuries was born in the 1450s, in northern France or Hainaut (present-day Belgium), son of Gossard Lebloitte. Despite strong family ties and, later, an inheritance in Condé, Josquin's path took him south to Aix-en-Provence, where he joined King René d'Anjou's court as a singer. The young musician began his career as early as 1475 in a prosperous (and Italophile) court establishment, surrounded by a supportive courtiers' "network." After René's death in 1480, most of his singers were retained by his nephew, King Louis XI of France; Josquin may have served Louis from 1480/81 to 1483. This position may have provided an opportunity for Josquin to meet to the King's renowned Premier chapellain, Johannes Ockeghem. By 1484, Josquin had become a commensural familiar (personal servant, as well as singer) to Ascanio Sforza, brother to the Duke of Milan. Not only did this bring Josquin into the orbit of one of the most splendid courts of Quattrocento Italy, but Ascanio's elevation to the Cardinalate likely brought his familiar to Rome (August 1484 until 1487, returning to Milan in 1488-1489). Josquin's relationship to this generous and well-connected patron continued into the next century as attested by printed attributions of music to "Josquin d'Ascanio" in 1504 and 1509. His next musical appointment, however, was to the Papal Choir in Rome, from June of 1489 until at least 1495. Two new expectative benefices in Thérouanne and Cambrai, close to his homeland, were among his immediate compensations. His location around the turn of the century is currently unknown, though this period saw a surge in the dissemination of his music, in manuscripts from centers such as Rome, Milan, and Brussels/Mechlin, but also in Petrucci's revolutionary musical press in Venice. After a brief, but highly lucrative, tenure as Maestro di cappella for the Duke of Ferrara from 1503-1504, the aging Josquin-hero passed into semi-retirement back in Condé. The collegiate church of Notre-Dame in Condé accepted him as provost in May 1504, and he purchased a new house in August, remaining until his death in 1521. During this time, he was an ordained priest and maintained some level of activity as a composer; as late as 1520, he presented a volume of chansons to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Josquin's will bequeathed his home to the collegiate church, to endow his stipulated obituary services: Marian "Salve" services on Saturdays throughout the year and on Marian feast days, and the singing of his own Pater noster and Ave Maria in front of his house during all general liturgical processions. And with the profuse laments of his contemporaries, the creation of his legend began. ~ Timothy Dickey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Josquin Desprez. Adieu, Mes Amours . Chansons

Title: Douleur Me Bat, Song For 5 Parts
Title: Adieu Mes Amours, Song For 4 Parts
Title: Plusieurs Regretz, Song For 5 Parts
Title: Petite Camusette, Song For 6 Parts
Title: Mille Regretz, Song For 4 Parts
Title: En Non Saichant, Song For 5 Parts (doubtful)
Title: J'ay Bien Cause De Lamenter, Song For 5 Parts (doubtful)
Title: Nymphes, Nappés/Circumdederunt Me, Song For 6 Parts
Title: Ile Fantazies De Joskin, For Instruments For 3 Parts
Title: La Plus Des Plus, Song For 3 Parts
Title: Plus N'estes Ma Maistresse, Song For 4 Parts (poss. Spurious)
Title: Cueurs Desolez, Song For 5 Parts
Title: Plaine De Dueil, Song For 5 Parts
Title: Fortuna Desperata, Song For 3 Parts (Poss. Spurious)
Title: Faulte D'argent, Song For 5 Parts
Title: Coeur Langoreulx, Song For 5 Parts
Title: Fors Seulement, Song For Six Parts
Title: Je Me Complains, Song For 5 Parts
Title: Se Congié Prens, Song For 6 Parts
Title: Tenez Moy On Voz Bras, Song For 6 Parts
Title: El Grillo, Song For 4 Parts
Title: Si J'ay Perdu Mon Amy, Song For 3 Parts
Title: Parfons Regretz, Song For 5 Parts
Title: Vous L'arez, S'il Vous Plaist, Song For 6 Parts
Title: Allegez Moi, Song For 6 Parts
Title: Deploration De La Mort De Jehan Ockeghem, Lament For 5 Parts

Comments

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Desprez makes human voices part of the universe. For those who find it soporific may you in that sleepy state sense that awesome dimension.
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What a nice informative biography and what incredibly beautiful music. There are no words to describe it fully.
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One of my favorite composers. In fact for this period he is on the top of my list.
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Loved this for many years.
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My favorite Ave Maria!
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aejudd09
Hey, "soporific" is a good word!
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captainpylan t h e s
Music genius!
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jimtropp7
Love it
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I keep seeing the word soporific. Third time this week. Three times more than I've seen it in my whole life. Was it the 'word-of-the - d a y ' on dictionary.c o m lately?
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Soothing but not soporific.
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beautiful pieces
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Awesome
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I think The same - it is like when i need peace within me - these choros Will Lift me my soul to get tranquile���
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If a lover of this music has NOT already introduced you to this, please listen at length; the sonic architecture matches the great cathedrals of the period, especially the shapes that swirl and oh! the stained glass!
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Luther was right, he was the master of notes.
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I love this music, it evokes in me peace and tranquillity
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richardleblo n d
I recommend Josquin’s Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae, especially the rapturous performance by A Sei Voci. This gorgeous music is revolutionar y , sounding more than a century ahead of its time. Stravinsky said Monteverdi was the first composer to whom we could relate personally. I say Josquin.
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zybt
Josquin's music will live forever & thanks to those who have resurrected it and perform it.
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Most settling and enjoyable.Pe r f e c t music to read the"Decamero n " by.
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thank you Pandora! I love this heavenly and meditative music! Beautiful!
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flipperxlr
I got to sing Benedicta Es. It was well worth the effort.
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Just beautiful...
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Josquin is easily my favorite pre-baroque composer. Ockeghem is pretty good too, but only in Josquin, in my opinion, can one hear the early fledgling beginnings of modern Western musical thought. I wouldn't be surprised if Bach could trace his musical roots to Josquin.
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While the Renaissance was riddled with wars, disease, and even a mini ice-age, the romance, music, majestic buildings,an d art are among the high-points of human existance... even today. Josquin's music is an example of the balance that music has with the voice. Calming, restoring, peaceful.
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Very relaxing and full of spirit.
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How have I missed this guy for so long? So glad to have discovered him, chalk up another win for Pandora...
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Very nice; sweet and refined.
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phuyser
Just wonderful music for any era!!
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Fantastic!!!
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Lovely music that brings back lovely memories of a choir tour of Europe and Turkey with the Princeton University Chamber Chorus. The late, great Prof. Walter Nollner brought out this music for us to sing. He predicted we'd learn to love it. He was right.
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Excellent music!
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Peaceful, calm, wonderful--l i k e a starlit night
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superb music. beautiful utilization of the violin.
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josephdarbro
One of the innumerable, beautiful treasures of the Beautiful.
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JamesHarriso n 3 0 0 0
One of the innumerable, beautiful treasures of Christianity .

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