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Benedictus Appenzeller
c.1480/88 - aft.1558
Belgium / The Netherlands
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B. Appenzeller
Benedictus Appenzeller - real name Appelschelders? - (c.1480/88 – aft.1558) was probably born in Oudenaarde in the southern part of the Low Countries and belonged seen his Flemish origin, his style to the fourth generation of Netherlands composers out of the Low Countries. Benedictus worked in the influence within the Flemish/Netherlands cultural geography. As far as known he never travelled out of the Low Countries and that’s exceptional because a lot of his colleagues did. It’s even suggested he was a pupil of Josquin des Prez (c.1440-1521) on which death he composed the fine motet Musae Jovis (SATB). The text is by Gerardi Avidii Noviomagi: In Josquinum a Pratis Musicorum principem Naenia and among others found in a source in Cambrai MS 125-128 and edited before 1542. The Musae Jovis was as well publicised in the Songbook of Zeghere van Male. (Unfortunately the Musae Jovis is no Requiem music matching the scope of this Requiem-site.). In his youth Appenzeller became a singer in 1517 in St. Jacobs in Bruges. And from 1519 Benedictus Appenzeller was ‘sangmeester’, Master of the choristers in St. Jacobs and some further from 1536 Benedictus Appenzeller is found as a singer in the Chapel choir of the court at Brussels. From 1541 until 1551 he was master of the choristers and later probably ‘Maitre de Chapelle’ at the Brussels court serving to Mary of Hungary, regent of the Low Countries. Some later from 1555-1558 Bendictus was ‘sangmeester’ Master of the choristers at St. Gudulis in Brussels. He died probably in Brussels certainly after 1558. Benedictus Appenzeller wrote secular and sacred music.
A most important source for Appenzeller’s secular music is: ‘Des chansons a quattre parties composez par M. Benedictus’ edited in Antwerp 1542 by Henri Loys et Jehan de Buys. They were unknwon printers but Charles V gave them nevertheless – from August 1540 - a print-license for three years. And there are compostions by Benedictus in a Songbook of Hieronymus Lauwerijn van Watervliet in Bruges collected betweeen 1495-1507. As far as we know in general 23 chansons by Benedictus Appenzeller survived. Among it and including an interesting setting of Psalm 130, now Psalm 129 De profundis clamavi, Liber Usualis page 1763. The text is in French and at that time were French psalms very fashionable at the French courts, King Francis I. Of course this Psalm is sung but we think due to the French text not in the Office of the Dead. In 1539 and in 1545 Appenzeller had some contacts with the Chapel-master of the Illustrious Confraternity of our Lady at ‘s-Hertogenbosch called in Dutch “Illustre Lieve Vrouwen Broederschap” and he is seen - in 1539 and 1545 - in the Records as a guest-singer of the Confraternity “sangmeester van der coninckinne.” He assisted the Chapel-master in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Even his wife (Liennaertken) of Benedictus Appenzeller was in 1544 member of the Illustrious Confraternity of our Lady at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. In this scope is worthy to mention that more famous musicians as Gombert (c.1495-c.1557), Crecquillon (c.1500-1557), Cornelis Canis (c.1506-1562), Jacobus Clement (1510/1515-c.1556) performed like Benedictus did for the Illustrious Confraternity of our Lady at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Sacred motets by Benedictus Appenzeller have been published in the modern Susato Motet Anthologies a selection out of: Liber primo ab Liber tribusdecimus ecclesiasticarum cantionum quator et quinque vocum, Antwerp, Susato, 1553-1557. In this modern version only the five-voice motets (Books from Liber quinque ab tribusdecimus) have been published. Eleven Masses are now known which can be attributed to Appenzeller. Some Masses are lost, eight survived. The choir-books of the Masses are produced at the Brussels court about 1540 and now preserved in Montserrat under MontsM765 and MontsM771. The Masses are written for four up to eight voices, mostly based upon plainchant melodies. Interesting is a found isolated eight-voice Agnus Dei without any doubt from the hands of Appenzeller according three independent sources. A splendid canon imitation for eight voices is part of this Agnus Dei. The same counts of a twelve-voice canon part of the Magnificat primo toni. From Benedictus Appenzeller sacred compositions eleven Masses, twelve Magnificats and thirty-five motets are known. Unfortunately not all are preserved. I am always interested in Mass compositions giving us a lot of information about the (high) polyphonic skills of Netherlands composers.
Fortunately the Monastery of Montserrat is again – as we have seen before – and now an important source for the oeuvre of Benedictus Appenzeller. Appenzeller passed away after 1588, date and place are unknown.
Author:Wim Goossens
Requiem
Period:Early Renaissance
Composed in:1540c
Musical form:Mass a 4-5 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin mass Missae pro defunctis
This Requiem contains the following nine parts:

- Introit: Requiem aeternam
- Kyrie; Christe; Kyrie
- Gradual: Si Ambulem
- Tractus: Sicut servus
- Offertoium: Domine Jesu Christe
- Sanctus
- Benedictus
- Agnus Dei I, II, III
- Communio: Lux aeterna

This Requiem a 4-5 vocum is written by Benedictus Appenzeller for four-five voices/parts.
The part of the anthology in which this Missa pro Defunctis has found – MontsM765 – is anonymously transmitted to us. Three Masses including the Requiem are anonym. Nevertheless all other compositions found in this source are attributed to BENEDICTUS, meaning Benedictus Appenzeller. And a choirmaster has noted in 1602 in the cover ‘Libro de Benedictus’. Analysis in literature showing us the Requiem reflects all skills by Appenzeller. In this Requiem Appenzeller made use of the plainchant and in this Requiem less complicated canons are worked out by Benedictus. For instance in the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei. The tempus perfectum is used by Benedictus. In this Requiem Benedictus uses modest imitative counterpoint and the same Proprium – see above - is used like Divitis (c.1473-c.1528) and Févin (1473-1512) did. Appenzeller did not use the Dies Irae. It is interesting to compare and to listen to the other magnificent Requiems written by the fourth Netherlands generation like Pierre de Manchicourt (c.1510-1565) and in this case especially by Jacobus Clement (c.1510-c.1556). This Requiem is preserved in Montserrat – MontsM 765, ff 116v-133r.
Author:Wim Goossens