Josquin Desprez

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Desprès, Josquin [ Josquin Desprez, Josquin des Pres, and several other spellings] (b ?Picardy, c.1440; d Condésur-l'Escaut, Hainaut, 1521). Fr.-Flemish composer. Possibly a pupil of Ockeghem. From c.1459 to 1504 was in It., first as singer in Milan Cath. and employee of Sforza family. Went to Rome in 1484 in service of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza and as member of papal chapel. Became choirmaster at Ferrara, 1503. Returned to Low Countries 1504, after outbreak of plague, where he became provost of church at Condé. Regarded as most gifted and influential composer of his time. He was no radical innovator but successfully developed existing and unexplored techniques. Was particularly successful in giving dramatic emphasis to the texts he set by means of word-rhythms and imitation. Although his early masses used a cantus firmus, later ones employed parody techniques and were sometimes based on a motto theme or a series of canons. Similarly in motets he abandoned a plainchant cantus firmus in favour of imitative devices. Some of his chansons were on erotic and frivolous texts and he was one of the first to appropriate tunes from court and theatre for his serious works. His work was so popular that many forgeries were published. He wrote 18 masses (the best-known being Ave Maris Stella, L'homme armé, and Pange lingua), nearly 100 motets, and over 70 secular works.

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Josquin Desprez (1445–1521) (Josquin Des Prés) Flemish composer. He wrote three books of masses, more than 100 motets and many secular songs. The expressiveness and inventiveness of his music marks him as the most prominent composer in Renaissance Europe.