Josquin des Prez
Josquin des Prez (French: [ʒɔskɛ̃ depʁe];
c. 1450/1455 – 27 August 1521), often referred to simply as
Josquin, was a French composer of the Renaissance. His original
name is sometimes given as Josquin Lebloitte and his later name is
given under a wide variety of spellings in French, Italian, and Latin,
including Iosquinus Pratensis and Iodocus a Prato. His motet Illibata
Dei virgo nutrix includes an acrostic of his name, where he spelled it
"Josquin des Prez". He was the most famous European composer
Guillaume Dufay and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, and is
usually considered to be the central figure of the Franco-Flemish
School. Josquin is widely considered by music scholars to be the first
master of the high
Renaissance style of polyphonic vocal music that
was emerging during his lifetime.
During the 16th century, Josquin gradually acquired the reputation as
the greatest composer of the age, his mastery of technique and
expression universally imitated and admired.[POV? – discuss] Writers
as diverse as
Baldassare Castiglione and
Martin Luther wrote about his
reputation and fame; theorists such as
Heinrich Glarean and Gioseffo
Zarlino held his style as that best representing perfection. He was
so admired that many anonymous compositions were attributed to him by
copyists, probably to increase their sales. More than 370 works are
attributed to him; it was only after the advent of modern
analytical scholarship that some of these attributions were
challenged, and revealed as mistaken, on the basis of stylistic
features and manuscript evidence. Yet in spite of Josquin's colossal
reputation, which endured until the beginning of the Baroque era and
was revived in the 20th century, his biography is shadowy, and
virtually nothing is known about his personality. The only surviving
work which may be in his own hand is a graffito on the wall of the
Sistine Chapel, and only one contemporary mention of his character is
known, in a letter to Duke Ercole I of Ferrara. The lives of dozens of
Renaissance composers are better documented than that of
Josquin wrote both sacred and secular music, and in all of the
significant vocal forms of the age, including masses, motets, chansons
and frottole. During the 16th century, he was praised for both his
supreme melodic gift and his use of ingenious technical devices.[POV?
– discuss] In modern times, scholars have attempted to ascertain the
basic details of his biography, and have tried to define the key
characteristics of his style to correct misattributions, a task that
has proved difficult, as Josquin liked to solve compositional problems
in different ways in successive compositions—sometimes he wrote in
an austere style devoid of ornamentation, and at other times he wrote
music requiring considerable virtuosity.
Heinrich Glarean wrote in
1547 that Josquin was not only a "magnificent virtuoso" (the Latin can
be translated also as "show-off") but capable of being a "mocker",
using satire effectively. While the focus of scholarship in recent
years has been to remove music from the "Josquin canon" (including
some of his most famous pieces) and to reattribute it to his
contemporaries, the remaining music represents some of the most famous
and enduring of the Renaissance.
1.1 Birth and early career
1.4 Departure from Rome;
Milan and France
1.6 Retirement to Condé-sur-l'Escaut
2.2.1 Cantus-firmus masses
2.2.2 Paraphrase masses
2.2.3 Parody masses, masses on popular songs
2.2.4 Masses on solmization syllables
2.2.5 Canonic masses
2.4 Chansons and instrumental compositions
5 Works list
5.2 Mass fragments
7 References and further reading
8 External links
Birth and early career
Little is known for certain of Josquin's early life. Much is
inferential and speculative, though numerous clues have emerged from
his works and the writings of contemporary composers, theorists, and
writers of the next several generations. Josquin was born in the area
controlled by the Dukes of Burgundy, and was possibly born either in
Hainaut (modern-day Belgium), or immediately across the border in
modern-day France, since several times in his life he was classified
legally as a Frenchman (for instance, when he made his will). Josquin
was long mistaken for a man with a similar name, Josquin de Kessalia,
born around the year 1440, who sang in
Milan from 1459 to 1474, dying
in 1498. More recent scholarship has shown that
Josquin des Prez
Josquin des Prez was
born around 1450 or a few years later, and did not go to Italy until
the early 1480s.
Around 1466, perhaps on the death of his father, Josquin was named by
his uncle and aunt, Gille Lebloitte dit Desprez and Jacque Banestonne,
as their heir. Their will gives Josquin's actual surname as Lebloitte.
According to Matthews and Merkley, "des Prez" was an alternative
According to an account by Claude Hémeré, a friend and librarian of
Cardinal Richelieu whose evidence dates as late as 1633, and who used
the records of the collegiate church of Saint-Quentin, Josquin
became a choirboy with his friend and colleague the Franco Flemish
Jean Mouton at Saint-Quentin's royal church, probably around
1460. Doubt has been cast on the accuracy of Hémeré's account,
however. Josquin may have studied counterpoint under Ockeghem,
whom he greatly admired throughout his life: this is suggested both by
the testimony of
Gioseffo Zarlino and Lodovico Zacconi, writing later
in the 16th century, and by Josquin's eloquent lament on the death of
Ockeghem in 1497, Nymphes des bois/Requiem aeternam, based on the poem
by Jean Molinet. All records from Saint-Quentin were destroyed in
1669; however the collegiate chapel there was a center of music-making
for the entire area, and in addition was an important center of royal
Jean Mouton and
Loyset Compère were buried there and
it is certainly possible that Josquin acquired his later connections
with the French royal chapel through early experiences at
The first definite record of his employment is dated 19 April 1477,
and it shows that he was a singer at the chapel of René, Duke of
Anjou, in Aix-en-Provence. He remained there at least until 1478. No
certain records of his movements exist for the period from March 1478
until 1483, but if he remained in the employ of René he would have
transferred to Paris in 1481 along with the rest of the chapel. One of
Josquin's early motets, Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo,
suggests a direct connection with Louis XI, who was king during this
time. In 1483 Josquin returned to Condé to claim his inheritance from
his aunt and uncle, who may have been killed by the army of Louis XI
in May 1478, when they besieged the town, locked the population into
the church, and burned them alive.
The period from 1480 to 1482 has puzzled biographers; contradictory
evidence exists suggesting either that Josquin was still in France, or
was already in the service of the Sforza family, specifically with
Ascanio Sforza, who had been banished from
Milan and resided
Ferrara or Naples. Residence in
Ferrara in the early
1480s could explain the Missa Hercules dux Ferrariae, composed for
Ercole d'Este, but which stylistically does not fit with the usual
date of 1503–4 when Josquin was known to be in Ferrara.
Alternatively it has been suggested that Josquin spent some of that
time in Hungary, based on a mid-16th-century Roman document describing
the Hungarian court in those years, and including Josquin as one of
the musicians present.
In either 1483 or 1484, Josquin is known to have been in the service
of the Sforza family in Milan. While in their employ, he made one or
more trips to Rome, and possibly also to Paris; while in
Milan he made
the acquaintance of Franchinus Gaffurius, who was maestro di cappella
of the cathedral there. He was in
Milan again in 1489, after a
possible period of travel; but he left that year.
From 1489 to 1495, Josquin was a member of the papal choir, first
under Pope Innocent VIII, and later under the Borgia pope Alexander
VI. He may have gone there as part of a singer exchange with Gaspar
van Weerbeke, who went back to
Milan at the same time. While there, he
may have been the one who carved his name into the wall of the Sistine
Chapel; a "JOSQUINJ" was recently revealed by workers restoring the
chapel. Since it was traditional for singers to carve their names into
the walls, and hundreds of names were inscribed there during the
period from the 15th to the 18th centuries, it is considered highly
likely that the graffiti is by Josquin – and if so, it would be
his only surviving autograph.
Josquin's mature style evolved during this period; as in
Milan he had
absorbed the influence of light Italian secular music, in Rome he
refined his techniques of sacred music. Several of his motets have
been dated to the years he spent at the papal chapel.
Departure from Rome;
Milan and France
Around 1498, Josquin most likely re-entered the service of the Sforza
family, on the evidence of a pair of letters between the Gonzaga and
Sforza families. He probably did not stay in
Milan long, for in
1499 Louis XII captured
Milan in his invasion of northern Italy and
imprisoned Josquin's former employers. Around this time Josquin most
likely returned to France, although documented details of his career
around the turn of the 16th century are lacking. Prior to departing
Italy he most likely wrote one of his most famous secular
compositions, the frottola El grillo (the Cricket), as well as In te
Domine speravi ("I have placed my hope in you, Lord"), based on Psalm
30. The latter composition may have been a veiled reference to the
religious reformer Girolamo Savonarola, who had been burned at the
stake in Florence in 1498, and for whom Josquin seems to have had a
special reverence; the text was the Dominican friar's favorite psalm,
a meditation on which he left incomplete in prison prior to his
Some of Josquin's compositions, such as the instrumental Vive le roy,
have been tentatively dated to the period around 1500 when he was in
France. A motet, Memor esto verbi tui servo tuo ("Remember thy promise
unto thy servant"), was, according to
Heinrich Glarean writing in the
Dodecachordon of 1547, composed as a gentle reminder to the king to
keep his promise of a benefice to Josquin, which he had forgotten to
keep. According to Glarean's story, it worked: the court applauded,
and the king gave Josquin his benefice. Upon receiving it, Josquin
reportedly wrote a motet on the text Benefecisti servo tuo, Domine
("Lord, thou hast dealt graciously with thy servant") to show his
gratitude to the king.
Ercole I d'Este was an important patron of the arts during the Italian
Renaissance; he was Josquin's employer in 1503 and 1504.
Josquin probably remained in the service of Louis XII until 1503, when
Duke Ercole I of
Ferrara hired him for the chapel there. One of
the rare mentions of Josquin's personality survives from this time.
Prior to hiring Josquin, one of Duke Ercole's assistants recommended
that he hire
Heinrich Isaac instead, since Isaac was easier to get
along with, more companionable, was more willing to compose on demand,
and would cost significantly less (120 ducats vs. 200). Ercole,
however, chose Josquin.
While in Ferrara, Josquin wrote some of his most famous compositions,
including the austere, Savonarola-influenced Miserere, which
became one of the most widely distributed motets of the 16th century;
the utterly contrasting, virtuoso motet Virgo salutiferi; and
possibly the Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae, which is written on a
cantus firmus derived from the musical letters in the Duke's name, a
technique known as soggetto cavato.
Josquin did not stay in
Ferrara long. An outbreak of the plague in the
summer of 1503 prompted the evacuation of the Duke and his family, as
well as two-thirds of the citizens, and Josquin left by April of the
next year, possibly also to escape the plague. His replacement, Jacob
Obrecht, died of the plague in the summer of 1505, to be replaced
Antoine Brumel in 1506, who stayed until the disbanding of the
chapel in 1510.
Retirement to Condé-sur-l'Escaut
Josquin went directly from
Ferrara to his home region of
Condé-sur-l'Escaut, southeast of
Lille on the present-day border
Belgium and France, becoming provost of the collegiate church
of Notre-Dame on 3 May 1504, a large musical establishment that he
headed for the rest of his life. While the chapter at Bourges
Cathedral asked him to become master of the choirboys there in 1508,
it is not known how he responded, and there is no record of his having
been employed there; most scholars presume he remained in Condé.
In 1509, he held concurrently provost and choir master offices at
Saint Quentin collegiate church.
During the last two decades of his life, Josquin's fame spread abroad
along with his music. The newly developed technology of printing made
wide dissemination of his music possible, and Josquin was the favorite
of the first printers: one of Petrucci's first publications, and the
earliest surviving print of music by a single composer, was a book of
Josquin's masses which he printed in Venice in 1502. This publication
was successful enough that Petrucci published two further volumes of
Josquin's masses, in 1504 and 1514, and reissued them several
On his death-bed, Josquin asked that he be listed on the rolls as a
foreigner, so that his property would not pass to the Lords and Ladies
of Condé. This bit of evidence has been used to show that he was
French by birth. Additionally, he left an endowment for the
performance of his late motet, Pater noster, at all general
processions in the town when they passed in front of his house,
stopping to place a wafer on the marketplace altar to the Holy Virgin.
Pater noster may have been his last work.
Josquin lived during a transitional stage in music history. Musical
styles were changing rapidly, in part owing to the movement of
musicians between different regions of Europe. Many northern
musicians moved to Italy, the heart of the Renaissance, attracted by
the Italian nobility's patronage of the arts; while in Italy, these
composers were influenced by the native Italian styles, and often
brought those ideas with them back to their homelands. The sinuous
musical lines of the Ockeghem generation, the contrapuntal complexity
of the Netherlanders, and the homophonic textures of the Italian lauda
and secular music began to merge into a unified style; indeed Josquin
was to be the leading figure in this musical process, which eventually
resulted in the formation of an international musical language, of
which the most famous composers included Palestrina and Lassus.
Josquin likely learned his craft in his home region in the North, in
France, and then in Italy when he went to
Milan and Rome. His early
sacred works emulate the contrapuntal complexity and ornamented,
melismatic lines of Ockeghem and his contemporaries, but at the same
time he was learning his contrapuntal technique he was acquiring an
Italianate idiom for his secular music: after all, he was surrounded
by Italian popular music in Milan. By the end of his long creative
career, which spanned approximately 50 productive years, he had
developed a simplified style in which each voice of a polyphonic
composition exhibited free and smooth motion, and close attention was
paid to clear setting of text as well as clear alignment of text with
musical motifs. While other composers were influential on the
development of Josquin's style, especially in the late 15th century,
he himself became the most influential composer in Europe, especially
after the development of music printing, which was concurrent with the
years of his maturity and peak output. This event made his influence
even more decisive than it might otherwise have been.
Many "modern" musical compositional practices were being born in the
era around 1500. Josquin made extensive use of "motivic cells" in his
compositions, short, easily recognizable melodic fragments which
passed from voice to voice in a contrapuntal texture, giving it an
inner unity. This is a basic organizational principle in music which
has been practiced continuously from approximately 1500 until the
Josquin wrote in all of the important forms current at the time,
including masses, motets, chansons, and frottole. He even contributed
to the development of a new form, the motet-chanson, of which he left
at least three examples. In addition, some of his pieces were probably
intended for instrumental performance.
Each area of his output can be further subdivided by form or by
hypothetical period of composition. Since dating Josquin's
compositions is particularly problematic, with scholarly consensus
only achieved on a minority of works, discussion here is by type.
Manuscript showing the opening Kyrie of the Missa de Beata Virgine, a
late work. Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Capp. Sist. 45, ff.
Josquin wrote towards the end of the period in which the mass was the
predominant form of sacred composition in Europe. The mass, as it had
developed through the 15th century, was a long, multi-section form,
with opportunities for large-scale structure and organization not
possible in the other forms such as the motet. Josquin wrote some of
the most famous examples of the genre, most using some kind of cyclic
He wrote masses using the following general techniques, although there
is considerable overlap between techniques in individual compositions:
cantus firmus mass, in which a pre-existing tune appeared, mostly
unchanged, in one voice of the texture, with the other voices being
more or less freely composed;
paraphrase mass, in which a pre-existing tune was used freely in all
voices, and in many variations;
parody mass, in which a pre-existing multi-voice song appeared in
whole or in part, with material from all voices in use, not just the
soggetto cavato, or solmization mass, in which the tune is drawn from
the syllables of a name or phrase (for example "la sol fa re mi"—A,
G, F, D, E—based on the syllables of Lascia fare mi ("let me do it",
a phrase used by an unknown patron, in a context around which much
legend has arisen).
canon, in which an entire mass is based on canonic techniques, and no
pre-existing material has been identified.
Most of these techniques, particularly paraphrase and parody, became
standardized during the first half of the 16th century; Josquin was
very much a pioneer, and what was perceived by later observers as the
mixing of these techniques was actually the process by which they were
Prior to Josquin's mature period, the most common technique for
writing masses was the cantus firmus, a technique which had been in
use already for most of the 15th century. It was the technique that
Josquin used earliest in his career, with the Missa L'ami Baudichon,
possibly his first mass. This mass is based on a secular –
indeed ribald – tune similar to "Three Blind Mice". That basing
a mass on such a source was an accepted procedure is evident from the
existence of the mass in
Sistine Chapel part-books copied during the
papacy of Julius II (1503 to 1513).
Josquin's most famous cantus-firmus masses are the two based on the
L'homme armé tune, which was the favorite tune for mass composition
of the entire Renaissance. The earlier of the two, Missa L'homme armé
super voces musicales, is a technical tour-de-force on the tune,
containing numerous mensuration canons and contrapuntal display. It
was by far the most famous of all his masses. The second, Missa
L'homme armé sexti toni, is a "fantasia on the theme of the armed
man." While based on a cantus firmus, it is also a paraphrase
mass, for fragments of the tune appear in all voices. Technically it
is almost restrained, compared to the other
L'homme armé mass, until
the closing Agnus Dei, which contains a complex canonic structure
including a rare retrograde canon, around which other voices are
The paraphrase technique differs from the cantus-firmus technique in
that the source material, though it still consists of a monophonic
original, is embellished, often with ornaments. As in the
cantus-firmus technique, the source tune may appear in many voices of
Several of Josquin's masses feature the paraphrase technique, and they
include some of his most famous work including the great Missa
Gaudeamus. The relatively early Missa Ave maris stella, which probably
dates from his years in the
Sistine Chapel choir, paraphrases the
Marian antiphon of the same name; it is also one of his shortest
masses. The late Missa de Beata Virgine paraphrases plainchants in
praise of the Virgin Mary; it is a Lady Mass, a votive mass for
Saturday performance, and was his most popular mass in the 16th
By far the most famous of Josquin's masses using the technique, and
one of the most famous mass settings of the entire era, was the Missa
pange lingua, based on the hymn by
Thomas Aquinas for the Vespers of
Corpus Christi. It was probably the last mass that Josquin
composed. This mass is an extended fantasia on the tune, using the
melody in all voices and in all parts of the mass, in elaborate and
ever-changing polyphony. One of the high points of the mass is the et
incarnatus est section of the Credo, where the texture becomes
homophonic, and the tune appears in the topmost voice; here the
portion which would normally set "Sing, O my tongue, of the mystery of
the divine body" is instead given the words "And he became incarnate
by the Holy Ghost from the Virgin Mary, and was made man."
Parody masses, masses on popular songs
In parody masses, the source material was not a single line, but an
entire texture, often of a popular song. Several works by Josquin fall
loosely into this category, including the Missa Fortuna desperata,
based on the three-voice song
Fortuna desperata (possibly by Antoine
Busnois); the Missa Malheur me bat (based on a chanson variously
ascribed to Obrecht, Ockeghem, or, most likely, Abertijne
Malcourt); and the Missa Mater Patris, based on a three-voice
motet by Antoine Brumel. The Missa Mater Patris is probably the first
true parody mass to be composed, for it no longer contains any hint of
a cantus firmus. Parody technique was to become the most usual
means of mass composition for the remainder of the 16th century,
although the mass gradually fell out of favor as the motet grew in
Masses on solmization syllables
The earliest known mass by any composer using this method of
composition – the soggetto cavato – is the Missa
Hercules Dux Ferrariae, which Josquin probably wrote in the early
1480s for the powerful Ercole I, Duke of Ferrara. The notes of the
cantus firmus are drawn from the musical syllables of the Duke's name
in the following way: Ercole, Duke of
Ferrara in Latin is Hercules Dux
Ferrarie. Taking the solmization syllables with the same vowels gives:
Re–Ut–Re–Ut–Re–Fa–Mi–Re (in modern nomenclature:
D–C–D–C–D–F–E–D). Another mass using this technique is
the Missa La sol fa re mi, based on the musical syllables contained in
"Lascia fare mi" ("let me do it"). The story, as told by Glareanus in
1547, was that an unknown aristocrat used to order suitors away with
this phrase, and Josquin immediately wrote an "exceedingly elegant"
mass on it as a jab at him.
Opening of the Agnus Dei II from the Missa
L'homme armé super voces
musicales. Play (help·info) The movement consists of a
three-out-of-one mensuration canon. The middle voice is the slowest;
the lowest voice sings at twice the speed of the middle voice, and the
top voice at three times the speed. The first four notes of the canon
are shown connected by lines of the same color. (The first eight notes
of the canon are a quotation of the contratenor of Ockeghem's "Ma
Canonic masses came into increasing prominence in the latter part of
the 15th century. Early examples include Ockeghem's famous Missa
prolationum, consisting entirely of mensuration canons, the Missa
L'homme armé of Guillaume Faugues, whose cantus firmus is presented
in canon at the descending fifth, the Missa [Ad fugam] of Marbrianus
de Orto, based on freely composed canons at the fifth between superius
and tenor, and the two great canonic masses of Josquin, the Missa Ad
fugam and Missa Sine nomine. Josquin makes use of canon in the Osanna
and Agnus Dei III of the Missa
L'homme armé sexti toni, throughout
the Missa Sine nomine and Missa Ad fugam, and in the final three
movements of the Missa De beata virgine. The Missa
L'homme armé super
voces musicales incorporates mensuration canons in the Kyrie,
Benedictus, and Agnus Dei II.
Josquin's motet style varied from almost strictly homophonic settings
with block chords and syllabic text declamation to highly ornate
contrapuntal fantasias, to the psalm settings which combined these
extremes with the addition of rhetorical figures and text-painting
that foreshadowed the later development of the madrigal. He wrote many
of his motets for four voices, an ensemble size which had become the
compositional norm around 1500, and he was also a considerable
innovator in writing motets for five and six voices. No motets of
more than six voices have been reliably attributed to Josquin.
A passage from the psalm motet Domine ne in furore (Ps. 37). Three
variants of a motive built on a major triad are introduced, each in
paired imitation between two voices. Play (help·info)
Almost all of Josquin's motets use some kind of compositional
constraint on the process; they are not freely composed. Some of
them use a cantus firmus as a unifying device; some are canonic; some
use a motto which repeats throughout; some use several of these
methods. The motets that use canon can be roughly divided into two
groups: those in which the canon is plainly designed to be heard and
appreciated as such, and another group in which a canon is present,
but almost impossible to hear, and seemingly written to be appreciated
by the eye, and by connoisseurs.
Josquin frequently used imitation, especially paired imitation, in
writing his motets, with sections akin to fugal expositions occurring
on successive lines of the text he was setting. An example is his
setting of Dominus regnavit (
Psalm 93), for four voices; each of the
lines of the psalm begins with a voice singing a new tune alone,
quickly followed by entries of other three voices in imitation.
In writing polyphonic settings of psalms, Josquin was a pioneer, and
psalm settings form a large proportion of the motets of his later
years. Few composers prior to Josquin had written polyphonic psalm
settings. Some of Josquin's settings include the famous Miserere,
Ferrara in 1503 or 1504 and most likely inspired by the
recent execution of the reformist monk Girolamo Savonarola, Memor
esto verbi tui, based on
Psalm 119, and two settings of De profundis
Psalm 130), both of which are often considered to be among his most
Chansons and instrumental compositions
"El grillo" redirects here. For the Guatemalan football coach, see
In the domain of secular music, Josquin left numerous French chansons,
for from three to six voices, as well as a handful of Italian secular
songs known as frottole, as well as some pieces which were probably
intended for instrumental performance. Problems of attribution are
even more acute with the chansons than they are with other portions of
his output: while about 70 three and four-voice chansons were
published under his name during his lifetime, only six of the more
than thirty five- and six-voice chansons attributed to him were
circulated under his name during the same time. Many of the
attributions added after his death are considered to be unreliable,
and much work has been done in the last decades of the 20th century to
correct attributions on stylistic grounds.
Josquin's earliest chansons were probably composed in northern Europe,
under the influence of composers such as Ockeghem and Busnois. Unlike
them, however, he never adhered strictly to the conventions of the
formes fixes – the rigid and complex repetition patterns of the
rondeau, virelai, and ballade – instead he often wrote his
early chansons in strict imitation, a feature they shared with many of
his sacred works. He was one of the first composers of chansons to
make all voices equal parts of the texture; and many of his chansons
contain points of imitation, in the manner of motets. However he did
use melodic repetition, especially where the lines of text rhymed, and
many of his chansons had a lighter texture, as well as a faster tempo,
than his motets.
Inside of his chansons, he often used a cantus firmus, sometimes a
popular song whose origin can no longer be traced, as in Si j'avoye
Marion. Other times he used a tune originally associated with a
separate text; and still other times he freely composed an entire
song, using no apparent external source material. Another technique he
sometimes used was to take a popular song and write it as a canon with
itself, in two inner voices, and write new melodic material above and
around it, to a new text: he used this technique in one of his most
famous chansons, Faulte d'argent ("The problem with money"), a song
sung by a man who wakes in bed with a prostitute, broke and unable to
Some of his chansons were doubtless designed to be performed
instrumentally. That Petrucci published many of them without text is
strong evidence of this; additionally, some of the pieces (for
example, the fanfare-like Vive le roy) contain writing more idiomatic
for instruments than voices.
Josquin's most famous chansons circulated widely in Europe. Some of
the better known include his lament on the death of Ockeghem, Nymphes
des bois/Requiem aeternam; Mille regretz (the attribution of which has
recently been questioned); Plus nulz regretz; and Je me complains.
In addition to his French chansons, he wrote at least three pieces in
the manner of the Italian frottola, a popular Italian song form which
he would have encountered during his years in Milan. These songs
include Scaramella, El grillo, and In te domine speravi. They are even
simpler in texture than his French chansons, being almost uniformly
syllabic and homophonic, and they remain among the most frequently
sung portions of his output.
While in Milan, Josquin wrote several examples of a new type of piece
developed by the composers there, the motet-chanson. These
compositions were texturally very similar to 15th century chansons in
the formes fixes mold, except that unlike those completely secular
works, they contained a chant-derived Latin cantus-firmus in the
lowest of the three voices. The other voices, in French, sang a
secular text which had either a symbolic relationship to the sacred
Latin text, or commented on it. Josquin's three known
motet-chansons, Que vous madame/In pace, A la mort/Monstra te esse
matrem, and Fortune destrange plummaige/Pauper sum ego, are similar
stylistically to those by the other composers of the
Loyset Compère and Alexander Agricola.
Josquin's fame lasted throughout the 16th century, and indeed
increased for several decades after his death. Zarlino, writing in the
1580s, was still using examples from Josquin in his treatises on
composition; and Josquin's fame was only eclipsed after the beginning
of the Baroque era, with the decline of the pre-tonal polyphonic
style. During the 18th and 19th centuries Josquin's fame was
overshadowed by later
Roman School composer Palestrina, whose music
was seen as the summit of polyphonic refinement, and codified into a
system of composition by theorists such as Johann Fux; however, during
the 20th century, Josquin's reputation has grown steadily, to the
point where scholars again consider him "the greatest and most
successful composer of the age." According to Richard Sherr,
writing in the introduction to the Josquin Companion, addressing
specifically the shrinking of Josquin's canon due to correction of
misattributions, "Josquin will survive because his best music really
is as magnificent as everybody has always said it was."
Since the 1950s Josquin's reputation has been boosted by the
increasing availability of recordings, of which there are many, and
the rise of ensembles specializing in the performance of 16th century
vocal music, many of which place Josquin's output at the heart of
Tu Pauperum Refugium
Four bassoon ensemble performing from Josquin Des Prez's Magnus es tu,
Problems playing this file? See media help.
The difficulties in compiling a works list for Josquin cannot be
overstated. Because of his immense prestige in the early sixteenth
century, many scribes and publishers did not resist the temptation of
attributing anonymous or otherwise spurious works to Josquin. The
German editor Georg Forster summed up the situation admirably in 1540
when he wrote, "I remember a certain eminent man saying that, now that
Josquin is dead, he is putting out more works than when he was
alive." Thus, the authenticity of many of the works listed below
is disputed on stylistic grounds or problems with sources or both.
This thorny issue has been taken up vigorously in the now nearly
complete New Josquin Edition (NJE).
Missa Ad fugam (canonic, four voices)
Missa Ave maris stella (Rome, 1486–1495) (four voices)
Missa D'ung aultre amer (four voices; authorship doubted by some
scholars, published as authentic in NJE)
Missa de Beata Virgine (around 1510) (four voices in parts I–II,
five voices in parts III–V)
Missa Di dadi (=N'aray je jamais) (four voices; authorship doubted by
some scholars, published as authentic in NJE)
Missa Faisant regretz (four voices)
Fortuna desperata (four voices)
Missa Gaudeamus (four voices)
Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae
Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae (Ferrara, 1503/04) (four voices, six in
Missa La sol fa re mi (four voices)
Missa L'ami Baudichon (four voices)
L'homme armé sexti toni (four voices, six in Agnus III)
L'homme armé super voces musicales (four voices)
Missa Malheur me bat (four voices, six in Agnus III)
Missa Mater patris (four voices; authorship doubted by some scholars
on stylistic grounds, published as authentic in NJE)
Missa Pange lingua (Condé, around 1514) (four voices)
Missa Sine nomine (four voices; canonic mass, also titled "Missa Ad
fugam" in later print)
Missa Une mousse de Biscaye (four voices; authorship doubted by some
scholars, published as authentic in NJE)
Missa Allez regrets (printed in Werken by Smijers with reservations;
considered authentic by Osthoff, otherwise doubted by many; possibly
by Johannes Stokem)
Missa da pacem (four voices; authorship widely doubted; probably by
Credo Chascun me crie (= Des rouges nez)
Credo De tous biens playne
Credo Vilayge (I)
Credo Vilayge (II) (of doubtful authorship)
Credo [Quarti toni] (canonic) (of doubtful authorship except
considered authentic by Urquhart)
Gloria De beata virgine
Sanctus De passione
Sanctus D'ung aultre amer
Absalon, fili mi (4vv) (attribution has been challenged; conjecturally
attributed to Pierre de La Rue)
Absolve, quaesumus, Domine/Requiem aeternam (6vv) (attribution has
Alma redemptoris mater;
Alma redemptoris mater / Ave regina caelorum;
Ave Maria ... benedicta tu (4vv);
Ave Maria ... Virgo serena
Ave Maria ... Virgo serena (
Ave munda spes, Maria (not in first complete works edition)
Ave nobilissima creatura
Ave verum corpus natum
Benedicta es, caelorum regina
Christum ducem, qui per crucem (4vv)
De profundis clamavi (4vv) (possibly middle-period composition:
attribution has been questioned)
De profundis clamavi (5vv) (late composition)
Domine exaudi orationem meam
Domine, ne in fuore tuo (4vv)
Domine, non-secundum peccata nostra (2-4vv; for Rome)
Ecce, tu pulchra es, amica mea
Factum est autem
Gaude virgo, mater Christi
Homo quidam fecit cenam magnam
Honor, decus, imperium
Huc me sydereo descendere jussit Olympo (5vv)
Illibata Dei virgo nutrix
In exitu Israel de Aegypto
In illo tempore assumpsit Jesus doudecim disciplus
Iniquos odio habui (4vv, only tenor part survives)
In principio erat Verbum (authenticity has been questioned)
Inviolata, integra et casta es, Maria
Jubilate Deo omnis terra
Liber generationis Jesu Christi
Magnificat quarti toni (attributed to Josquin on stylistic grounds)
Magnificat tertii toni (attributed to Josquin on stylistic grounds)
Memor esto verbi tui
Miserere mei Deus (Ferrara, 1503)
Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo (France, 1480/83)
Missus est Gabriel angelus ad Mariam Virginem
Mittit ad virginem
Monstra te esse matrem
O admirabile commercium (part of a 5-motet cycle)
O bone et dulcissime Jesu
O Domine Jesu Christe (part of a Passion setting in 5 sections)
O virgo prudentissima
O virgo virginum
Pater noster, qui es in caelis (Condé, 1505–1521)
Planxit autem David
Praeter rerum seriem
Qui edunt me adhuc
Qui habitat in adiutorio altissimi (24vv)
Qui velatus facie fuisti (part of a Passion setting in 6 sections)
Salve regina (4vv)
Salve regina (5vv, 1502)
Tu lumen, tu splendor
Tu solus qui facis mirabilia
Usquequo Domine oblivisceris me (attrib on stylistic grounds; only
Ut Phoebi radiis
Veni, sancte spiritus (also attrib to Forestier)
Victimae paschali laudes
Virgo salutiferi (Ferrara, 1503/04)
Vultum tuum deprecabuntur (7-part Passion cycle) (1480s)
A la mort / Monstra te esse matrem
Fortune destrange plummaige/Pauper sum ego
Que vous madame / In pace in idipsum
A l'heure que je vous
A l'ombre d'ung buissonet, au matinet (3vv)
Adieu mes amours
Adieu mes amours
Adieu mes amours (6vv or 7vv)
Baisé moy, ma doulce amye (4vv)
Belle, pour l'amour de vous
Cela sans plus
Comment peult haver joye
De tous biens plaine (3vv)
De tous biens plaine (4vv)
Douleur me bat
Du mien amant
En l'ombre d'ung buissonet tout, au long (3vv)
En l'ombre d'ung buissonet tout, au long (4vv)
Entré je suis en grant pensée (3vv)
Entré je suis en grant pensée (4vv)
Fors seulement (only one of six voice parts survives)
Fortuna d'un gran tempo
Ile fantazies de Joskin
Incessament livré suis à martire
Je me complains
Je n'ose plus
Je ris et si ay larme
Je sey bien dire
La belle se siet
La plus de plus
Le villain [jaloux]
Ma bouche rit et mon cueur pleure
Mille Regretz (4 voices)
Mon mary m'a diffamée
N'esse pas ung grant desplaisir
Nymphes des bois (written for the death of Johannes Ockeghem)
Nymphes, nappés / Circumdederunt me
Plaine de dueil
Plus n'estes ma maistresse
Plus nulz regretz (written between 1508 and 1511, commemorating the
1507 Treaty of Calais (1507));
Quant je vous voye
Qui belles amours a
Recordans de my signora
Regretz sans fin;
Se congié prens
Si j'ay perdu mon amy (3vv)
Si j'ay perdu mon amy (4vv)
Tant vous aimme Bergeronette
Tenez moy en voz bras
Une mousque de Biscaye;
Vive le roy (instrumental piece, written for Louis XII)
Vous l'arez, s'il vous plaist
Vous ne l'arez pas
In te Domine speravi per trovar pietà
Scaramella va alla guerra
^ Macey et al., §8.
^ "Des Préz, Josquin". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Cambridge: the
University Press. 1911.
^ ChoralWiki Illibata Dei virgo nutrix (Josquin des Prez)
^ Wegman, pp. 21–25.
^ Reese, Grove.
^ Wegman, p. 28.
^ Wegman, pp. 21–22.
^ Sherr, p. 3.
^ Glareanus, quoted in Sherr, p. 3.
^ a b Sherr, p. 10.
^ Matthews and Merkley, pp. 208–209.
^ Reese et al.,[page needed].
^ a b Macey et al., §1.
^ a b c d e Macey et al.,[page needed].
^ Sherr, frontispiece
^ Macey, p. 155.
^ David W. Barber, If It Ain't Baroque: More Music History as It Ought
to Be Taught (Toronto: Sound and Vision, 1992), p. 34.
^ Merkley, pp. 544–583[page needed]
^ Macey, p. 184.
^ Milsom, p. 307.
^ a b Sherr, p. 16.
^ Sherr, p. 17.
^ Boorman, Stanley. "Petrucci, Ottaviano (dei)." Music Printing and
Publishing. New York: Norton, 1990, pp. 365–369.
^ Milsom, pp. 303–305.
^ Reese, pp. 184–185.
^ a b c d e f g Noble, Grove (1980)
^ Irving Godt, JMT, 264–292.
^ Blackburn, Planchart, Bloxham, Sherr, in Sherr, 51–248.
^ Blackburn, p. 72.
^ Blackburn, pp. 53–62
^ Blackburn, p. 63
^ Blackburn, p. 64
^ Planchart, in Sherr, p. 109.
^ Planchart, in Sherr, pp. 120–130
^ Planchart, in Sherr, pp. 130, 132.
^ Planchart, in Sherr, p. 142.
^ Reese, p. 240.
^ Taruskin, p. 560.
^ Blackburn, p. 78.
^ A canon from the Agnus Dei II from the Missa
L'homme armé super
voces musicales is written in a triangular form in Dosso Dossi's
Allegory of Music. See the entry Eye music.
^ Milsom, p. 282
^ Milsom, p. 284
^ Milsom, p. 290
^ a b Reese, p. 249
^ Reese, p. 246
^ Macey, p. xxx
^ Milsom, p. 305
^ Louise Litterick, in Sherr, pp. 335, 393
^ Brown, Grove (1980), "Chanson."
^ Litterick, in Sherr, pp. 374–376
^ Litterick, in Sherr, p. 336
^ David Fallows, in Sherr, p. 575.
^ Higgins,[page needed].
^ Sherr, p. 577; also Appendix B (Discography)
^ Jesse Rodin, "A Josquin Substitution," Early Music 34.2 (2006), p.
^ For the latest work on dating, see Joshua Rifkin, Munich, Milan, and
a Marian Motet: Dating Josquin's "Ave Maria ... virgo serena," Journal
of the American Musicological Society 56.2 (2003), pp. 239–350
^ Finscher, Sherr, p. 264n
References and further reading
Atlas, Allan W., ed.
Renaissance Music: Music in Western Europe,
1400–1600. New York: Norton, 1998. ISBN 0-393-97169-4.
Blackburn, Bonnie J. "Masses Based on Popular Songs and Solmization
Syllables". The Josquin Companion, edited by Richard Sherr, 51–88.
Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Brown, Howard M. "Chanson" The New Grove Dictionary of Music and
Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. London, Macmillan, 1980. (20 vol.)
Charles, Sydney R. Josquin des Prez: A Guide to Research. New York and
London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1983.
Clutterham, Leslie. "Dating Josquin's Enigmatic
Motet Illibata Dei
virgo nutrix". Choral Journal 38, no. 3 (October 1997): 9–14. Online
version as "Auobiographical [sic] Constructions in Josquin's Motet
Illibata Dei virgo nutrix: Evidence for a Later Dating" (Accessed 8
Duffin, Ross W., ed. A Josquin Anthology. Oxford University Press,
1999. ISBN 0-19-353218-2.
Elders, Willem, ed. New Josquin Edition, 30 vols. Utrecht: Koninklijke
Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, 1987– .
Elders, Willem, and Frits de Haen, eds. Proceedings of the
International Josquin Symposium, Utrecht 1986 . Utrecht: Vereniging
voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, 1986. ISBN 90-6375-148-6.
Elders, Willem, For a complete list of publications by Josquin
specialist Willem Elders, please visit his website: willemelders.eu.
Fallows, David. Josquin. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2009,
Fiore, Carlo. Josquin des Prez. L'Epos: Palermo, 2003,
Gleason, Harold, and Warren Becker. Music in the Middle Ages and the
Renaissance. Bloomington, Indiana: Frangipani Press, 1981.
Godt, Irving. "Motivic Integration in Josquin's Motets." Journal of
Music Theory, 21, 2 (Autumn, 1977): 264–292.
Higgins, Paula. "The Apotheosis of
Josquin des Prez
Josquin des Prez and Other
Mythologies of Musical Genius". Journal of the American Musicological
Society, 57, 3 (Autumn, 2004): 443–510.
Lowinsky, Edward E., ed. Josquin des Prez. London: Oxford University
Macey, Patrick. Bonfire Songs: Savonarola's Musical Legacy. Oxford:
Clarendon Press. 1998. ISBN 0-19-816669-9.
Macey, Patrick, Jeremy Noble, Jeffrey Dean, and Gustave Reese. Dean
Roote, ed. Josquin des Prez. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 29 October
2010. (subscription required)
Matthews, Lora, and Paul Merkley. "Iudochus de Picardia and Jossequin
Lebloitte dit Desprez: The Names of the Singer(s)". The Journal of
Musicology 16, 2 (Spring 1998): 200–226. doi:10.2307/764140
Merkley, Paul. "Josquin Desprez in Ferrara". The Journal of Musicology
18, 4 (2001): 544–583.
Milsom, John. "Motets for Five or More Voices". In The Josquin
Companion, edited by Richard Sherr, 281–320. Oxford and New York:
Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-19-816335-5.
Noble, Jeremy. "Josquin Desprez (works)" The New Grove Dictionary of
Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. London, Macmillan, 1980. (20
vol.) ISBN 1-56159-174-2.
Pietschmann, Klaus. "Ein Graffito von Josquin Desprez auf der Cantoria
der Sixtinischen Kapelle" Die Musikforschung vol. 52 no. 2 (1999),
Reese, Gustave. Music in the Renaissance. New York: W. W. Norton,
1954. ISBN 0-393-09530-4.
Reese, Gustave. "Josquin Desprez (biography)" The New Grove Dictionary
of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie. London, Macmillan, 1980.
(20 vol.) ISBN 1-56159-174-2.
Reese, Gustave, Jeremy Noble, Lewis Lockwood, Jessie Ann Owens, James
Haar, Joseph Kerman, and Robert Stevenson. The new Grove High
Renaissance Masters: Josquin, Palestrina, Lassus, Byrd, Victoria. The
Composer Biography Series; The New Grove Dictionary of Music and
Musicians. London: Macmillan Publishers, 1980–84.
Sherr, Richard, ed. The Josquin Companion. Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2000. ISBN 0-19-816335-5.
Steib, Murray. "A Study in Style, or Josquin or Not Josquin: The Missa
Allez regretz Question". The Journal of Musicology 16, 4 (Autumn,
Taruskin, Richard. Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth
Century. The Oxford History of Western Music, Volume 1. New York:
Oxford University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-19-538481-9.
Wegman, Rob C. "Who Was Josquin?" In The Josquin Companion, edited by
Richard Sherr, 21–50. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press,
2000. ISBN 0-19-816335-5.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Josquin des Prez.
Josquin des Prez
Josquin des Prez at Encyclopædia Britannica
Josquin Research Project: http://josquin.stanford.edu
Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Josquin Deprés". Catholic
Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
Free scores by
Josquin des Prez
Josquin des Prez in the Choral Public Domain Library
Free access to high-resolution images of manuscripts containing works
by Josquin from Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music
Free scores by
Josquin des Prez
Josquin des Prez at the International Music Score
Library Project (IMSLP)
Mutopia Project has compositions by Josquin des Prez
Josquin biography and discography
Listen to free recordings of compositions from Umeå Akademiska Kör.
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
Josquin des Prez
Adieu mes amours
Ave Maria ... Virgo serena
Missa de Beata Virgine
Missa Di dadi
Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae
L'homme armé sexti toni
L'homme armé super voces musicales
Missa La sol fa re mi
Missa Pange lingua
Missa sine nomine
Nymphes des bois
Category:Compositions by Josquin des Prez
ISNI: 0000 0001 2103 3870
BNF: cb138957704 (data)