Josquin des Prez

Josquin des Prez

biographical name


Josquin des Prez, drawing by Joris van der Straeten, 16th century.—The Bettmann Archive

(born c. 1450, Condé-sur-l'Escaut?, Burgundian Hainaut—died Aug. 27, 1521, Condé-sur-l'Escaut) Northern French composer. Perhaps a student of Johannes Ockeghem, he spent his life working as a singer, moving from post to post in Italy, including the court of René of Anjou (c. 1475–1480) and the Papal Chapel (1486–94), before returning to Condé in 1504, where he would spend the rest of his life. Josquin was able to balance complexity of imitative counterpoint with an inexhaustible melodic gift. He left over 60 motets (including Absalon, fili mi), some 18 complete masses (including Missa Pange lingua), and many superb secular songs in the chordal “Italian” style (including “El grillo”). The first music printer, Ottaviano Petrucci, devoted an entire volume to Josquin's works, an honour accorded to no other composer. His posthumous reputation, as attested by Martin Luther and others, was the greatest of any composer up to his time, and his works were closely imitated throughout the 16th century.

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