JOSQUIN DES PREZ (1455 - 1521)
Josquin, the descriptive part of whose name appears in various forms, occupies a leading position in the music of his generation. He represents the dominance of composers from Northern France and the Netherlands in this period, a school of music sometimes known as the Netherlands School but influential throughout the Habsburg domains. Josquin was employed in Milan, at the papal chapel in Rome, by King Louis XII of France, at the court of the d’Estes in Ferrara and finally in his native region of Condé, where he died in 1521.
Josquin wrote a large amount of church music. Of this, 18 Mass settings survive, including one using as a basic motif or cantus firmus the well-known secular song L’homme armé; one honouring his Ferrara patron Duke Ercole d’Este, Hercules Dux Ferrariae, its cantus firmus based on the musical transliteration of its title; and the Missa Pange lingua, which uses the Latin hymn of the same name. Josquin also wrote a large number of motets of equally faultless technique, the epitome of Renaissance musical achievement, among which may be mentioned Absalom, fili mi, Ave Maria gratia plena and his Stabat mater dolorosa.
Vocal music largely to French texts includes a lament for the death of the composer Ockeghem, Nymphes des bois. The chanson El grillo, with its imitation of the cricket, is a fine jeu d’esprit, as is the light-hearted Scaramella va alla guerra. Mille regretz is among the best known of a remarkable collection of works.