Johannes Ockeghem (also Jean de, Jan; surname Okeghem, Ogkegum,
Okchem, Hocquegam, Ockegham; other variant spellings are also
encountered) (1410/1425 – February 6, 1497) was the most famous
composer of the
Franco-Flemish School in the last half of the 15th
century, and is often considered the most influential composer between
Guillaume Dufay and Josquin des Prez. In addition to being a renowned
composer, he was also an honored singer, choirmaster, and teacher.
2 Music and influence
3.2.1 Marian antiphons
3.4.1 Two voices
3.4.2 Three voices
3.4.3 Three or four voices
3.4.4 Four voices
7 External links
The spelling of Ockeghem's name comes from a supposed autograph of his
which survived as late as 1885, and was reproduced by Eugène
Giraudet, a historian in Tours; the document has since been lost.
In 15th-century sources, the spelling "Okeghem" predominates.
Ockeghem is believed to have been born in Saint-Ghislain, Netherlands
(now Belgium). His birthdate is unknown; dates as early as 1410 and as
late as 1430 have been proposed. The earlier date is based on the
possibility that he knew Binchois in Hainaut before the older composer
Lille in 1423. Ockeghem would have to have been
younger than 15 at the time. This particular speculation derives from
Ockeghem's reference, in the lament he wrote on the death of Binchois
in 1460, to a chanson by Binchois dated to that time. In this
lament Ockeghem not only honored the older composer by imitating his
style, but also revealed some useful biographical information about
him. The comment by the poet Guillaume Crétin, in the lament he
wrote on Ockeghem's death in 1497, "it was a great shame that a
composer of his talents should die before 100 years old", is also
often taken as evidence for the earlier birthdate for Ockeghem.
In 1993, documents dating from 1607 were found stating that "Jan
Hocquegam" was a native of
Saint-Ghislain in the County of Hainaut,
which was confirmed by references in 16th century documents. This
suggests that, though he first appears in records in Flanders, he was
a native speaker of Picard. Previously, most biographies surmised
that he was born in East Flanders, either in the town after which he
was named (present-day Okegem, from which his ancestors must have
come) or in the neighboring town of
Dendermonde (French: Termonde),
where the surname Ockeghem occurred in the 14th and 15th century.
Occasionally, Bavay, now in the Nord department in France, was
suggested as his birthplace as well.
Details of his early life are lacking. Like many composers in this
period, he started his musical career as a chorister, although the
exact location of his education is unknown: Mons, a town near
Saint-Ghislain that had at least two churches with competent music
schools, has been suggested. The first actual documented record of
Ockeghem is from the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe cathedral in Antwerp, where he
was employed in June 1443 as a "left-hand choir singer"
("left-handers" sang composed music, "right-handers" sang chant). He
probably sang under the direction of Johannes Pullois, whose
employment also dates from that year. This church was a
distinguished establishment, and it was likely here that Ockeghem
became familiar with the English compositional style, which influenced
late 15th-century musical practice on the continent.
Between 1446 and 1448 Ockeghem served, along with singer and composer
Jean Cousin, at the court of
Charles I, Duke of Bourbon in Moulins,
now in central France. During this service he became the first
among the singing chaplains to appear in the court records. Around
1452 he moved to
Paris where he served as maestro di cappella to the
French court, as well as treasurer of the collegiate church of St.
Martin, at Tours. In addition to serving at the French court –
both for Charles VII and Louis XI – he held posts at Notre Dame
Paris and at St. Benoît. He is known to have traveled to
1470, as part of a diplomatic mission for the King, which was a
complex affair attempting both to dissuade
Spain from joining an
alliance with England and Burgundy against France, and to arrange a
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I of Castile and Charles, Duke of Guyenne
(the brother of king Louis XI). After the death of Louis XI (1483),
not much is known for certain about Ockeghem's whereabouts, though it
is known that he went to
Bruges and Tours, and he probably died in the
latter town since he left a will there. An indication of the renown in
which Ockeghem was held is the number of laments written on his death
in 1497; among the most famous of the musical settings of these many
Nymphes des bois by Josquin des Prez.
Ockeghem probably studied with Gilles Binchois, and at least was
closely associated with him at the Burgundian court. Since Antoine
Busnois wrote a motet in honor of Ockeghem sometime before 1467, it is
probable that those two were acquainted as well; and writers of the
time often link Dufay, Busnois and Ockeghem. Although Ockeghem's
musical style differs considerably from that of the older generation,
it is probable that he acquired his basic technique from them, and as
such can be seen as a direct link from the Burgundian style to the
next generation of Netherlanders, such as Obrecht and Josquin.
Music and influence
An illuminated opening from the
Chigi codex featuring the
Ockeghem's Missa Ecce ancilla Domini
Ockeghem was not a prolific composer, given the length of his career
and extent of his reputation, and some of his work was lost. Many
works formerly attributed to him are now presumed to be by other
composers; Ockeghem's total output of reliably attributed
compositions, as with many of the most famous composers of the time
(such as Josquin), has shrunk with time. Surviving reliably
attributed works include some 14 masses (including a Requiem), an
isolated Credo (Credo sine nomine), five motets, a motet-chanson (a
deploration on the death of Binchois), and 21 chansons. Thirteen of
Ockeghem's masses are preserved in the Chigi codex, a Flemish
manuscript dating to around 1500. His Missa pro Defunctis is the
earliest surviving polyphonic Requiem mass (a possibly earlier setting
by Dufay has been lost). Some of his works, alongside compositions by
his contemporaries, are included in Petrucci's Harmonice musices
odhecaton (1501), the first collection of music published using
Dating Ockeghem's works is difficult, as there are almost no external
points of reference, except of course the death of Binchois (1460) for
which Ockeghem composed a motet-chanson. The
Missa Caput is almost
certainly an early work, since it follows on an anonymous English mass
of the same title dated to the 1440s, and his late masses may include
the Missa Ma maistresse and Missa Fors seulement, in view of both his
innovative treatment of the cantus firmus and his increasingly
homogeneous textures later in his life.
Ockeghem used the cantus firmus technique in about half of his masses;
the earliest of these masses use head-motifs at the start of the
individual movements, a common practice around 1440 but one that had
already become archaic by around 1450. Two of his masses, Missa Ma
maistresse and Missa Fors seulement, are based on chansons he wrote
himself, and use more than one voice of the chanson, foreshadowing the
parody mass techniques of the 16th century. In his remaining masses,
including the Missa Mi-mi, Missa cuiusvis toni, and Missa prolationum,
no borrowed material has been found, and the works seem to have been
Ockeghem would sometimes place borrowed material in the lowest voice,
such as in the Missa Caput, one of three masses written in the
mid-15th century based on that fragment of chant from the English
Sarum Rite. Other characteristics of Ockeghem's compositional
technique include variation in voices' rhythmic character so as to
maintain their independence.
A strong influence on
Josquin des Prez
Josquin des Prez and the subsequent generation
of Netherlanders, Ockeghem was famous throughout Europe for his
expressive music, though he was equally renowned for his technical
prowess. Two of the most famous contrapuntal achievements of the
15th century include his Missa prolationum, which consists entirely of
mensuration canons, and the Missa cuiusvis toni, designed to be
performed in any of the different modes, but even these
technique-oriented pieces demonstrate his uniquely expressive use of
vocal ranges and tonal language.[POV? – discuss] Ockeghem's use
of wide-ranging and rhythmically active bass lines sets him apart from
many of the other composers in the Netherlandish Schools.
Ockeghem died in Tours, France. To commemorate his death, Josquin des
Prez composed the motet La déploration de la mort de Johannes
Ockeghem, a setting of the poem
Nymphes des bois by Jean Molinet. An
unusually large number of laments appeared after Ockeghem's death.
Some of the authors of these poems included Molinet and Desiderius
Johannes Lupi provided another musical setting.
Missa sine nomine a 3 (attrib)
Missa sine nomine a 5 (incomplete: only Kyrie, Gloria and Credo exist)
Missa Au travail suis a 4
Missa cuiusvis toni
Missa De plus en plus
Missa Ecce ancilla Domini
Fors seulement a 5 (has not survived complete: only Kyrie,
Gloria and Credo remain)
L'homme armé a 4
Missa Ma maistresse (only
Kyrie and Gloria extant)
Missa Mi-mi a 4 (also known as the Missa quarti toni)
Missa prolationum a 4 (circa 1470)
Missa quinti toni a 3
Missa pro defunctis (Requiem) a 4 (incomplete, probably composed for
the funeral of Charles VII in 1461)
Credo sine nomine (Mass section, also known as Credo "De village")
Alma Redemptoris Mater
Intemerata Dei mater a 5 (possibly written 1487)
Ut heremita solus (possibly intended for instrumental performance)
Deo gratias a 36 (attrib)
Mort tu as navré/Miserere (lamentation on the death of Gilles
Binchois, probably written in 1460)
O rosa bella (ballata) (Ai lasso mi - John Bedyngham/John Dunstaple?)
Aultre Venus estes
Au travail suis (attrib: possibly by Barbingant)
Baisiés moy dont fort
D'ung aultre amer
Fors seulement contre
Fors seulement l'attente
Il ne m'en chault plus
La despourveue et la bannie
Les desléaux ont la saison
Ma bouche rit
Prenez sur moi
Quant de vous seul
Qu'es mi vida preguntays
Se vostre cuer eslongne
Tant fuz gentement resjouy
Ung aultre l'a
Three or four voices
J'en ay dueil
S'elle m'amera/Petite camusette
Flemish Masters, Virginia Arts Recordings, VA-04413, performed by
Zephyrus. Includes the Ockeghem Alma Redemptoris mater, the Obrecht
Missa Sub tuum presidium, as well as motets by Willaert, Clemens non
Papa, Josquin, Mouton, and Gombert.
Angelus, Virginia Arts Recordings, VA-00338, performed by Zephyrus.
Includes the Ockeghem Ave Maria ... benedicta tu, as well as motets by
Palestrina, Josquin, Victoria, Rore, Morales, Clemens non Papa,
Lassus, de Wert, and Andrea Gabrieli
"Missa Cuiusvis Toni", æon, ÆCD 0753 (2 CDs-2007), performed by
Ensemble Musica Nova, Lucien Kandel; First recording of the four
versions. Ed. Gérard Geay.
"Missa prolationum", agogique AGO 008, Ensemble Musica Nova, Lucien
Kandel. Ed. Gérard Geay.
^ This portrait is tentatively identified as Ockeghem by Reinhard
Strohm, "Portrait of a Musician", in Vendrix, Philippe, ed. Johannes
Ockeghem : actes du XLe Colloque international d'études
humanistes, Tours, 3-8 février 1997. Paris: Klinckseick, 1998. [pp.
167-172.] WorldCat shows copies at the Sorbonne, and Bibliothèque
nationale de France: WorldCat page op. cit.
^ a b c d e f g h i Brown & Stein, p61.
^ Giraudet, 1885. Les artistes tourangeaux (series: Mémoires de la
société archéologique de Touraine, 33. Bibliothèque nationale de
France. Online resource.
^ Fitch, p. 57.
^ a b c d e f g h i Perkins, Grove online
^ a b Brown & Stein, p61-71.
^ Van Overstraeten, pp 11-17
^ Brown & Stein, p60
^ Van Overstraeten, pp 10
^ Van Overstraeten, pp 8-9
^ Starr, Grove online
^ Brown & Stein, p70.
^ Brown & Stein, p68.
^ Brown & Stein, p62.
^ a b Brown & Stein, p69.
^ Dean, p. 555.
Leeman Perkins: "Johannes Ockeghem"; Pamela Starr, "Johannes Pullois".
Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed December 23, 2007),
Article "Johannes Ockeghem," The New Grove Dictionary of Music and
Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers
Ltd., 1980. (ISBN 1-56159-174-2)
Gustave Reese: Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton &
Co., 1954. (ISBN 0-393-09530-4)
Fabrice Fitch: Johannes Ockeghem: Masses and Models. Paris, Honoré
Champion Éditeur, 1997. (ISBN 978-2-85203-735-9)
Jeffrey Dean: "Okeghem's valediction? The meaning of 'Intemerata Dei
mater'", in Johannes Ockeghem: Actes du XLe Colloque international
d'études humanistes. Éditions Klincksieck, 1998.
Johannes Ockeghem and Jacob Obrecht: A Guide to
Research. (Garland Composer Resource Manuals, 13.) New York: Garland
Publishing Co., 1988. (ISBN 0-8240-8381-4)
Leeman Perkins: Music in the Age of the Renaissance. New York, W.W.
Norton & Co., 1999.
Howard M. Brown & Louise K. Stein: Music in the Renaissance, 2nd
ed. New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 1996. Pp. 60–79.
Giulio Ongaro: Music of the Renaissance. Westport, Connecticut,
Greenwood Press, 2003. P.32.
Daniel Van Overstraeten: Le lieu de naissance du musicien Jean
Ockeghem (ca 1420–1497): une énigme élucidée. Annales du Cercle
d'histoire et d'archéologie de
Saint-Ghislain et de la région. VI
1993. (in French)
Philippe Vendrix, dir. Johannes Ockeghem. Actes du XIe Colloque
international d'études humanistes. Centre d'Etudes Supérieures de la
Renaissance. Coll. Epitome musical. Kincksieck, 1998.
ISBN 2-252-03214-6 (in French and in English).
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Johannes Ockeghem.
Jean de Ockeghem at Encyclopædia Britannica
Ockeghem biography and discography
Free scores by
Johannes Ockeghem in the Choral Public Domain Library
Free scores by
Johannes Ockeghem at the International Music Score
Library Project (IMSLP)
Johannes Ockeghem Home Page
Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Jean d'Okeghem". Catholic
Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
Guillaume Du Fay
Marbrianus de Orto
Antoine de Févin
Josquin des Prez
Pierre de la Rue
Jacob Clemens non Papa
Pierre de Manchicourt
Cipriano de Rore
Orlande de Lassus
Giovanni de Macque
Philippe de Monte
Giaches de Wert
Missa cuiusvis toni
Category:Compositions by Johannes Ockeghem
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