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Jacob Obrecht
1457/58 - 1505
The Netherlands / Belgium
Picture
J. Obrecht
Jacob Obrecht -also: Hobrecht, Hoberti, Obreth- (1457/1458 - 1505), a Flemish/Netherlands composer from the third generation and was born in Ghent in 1457 or 1458 (some source: 22/11/1450). He was the only child of William Obrecht (1430-1488) city-trumpeter of Ghent and Lysbette Gheeraertys (1440-1460). It is now proved, nevertheless suggested for a long time, Obrecht was not born in Bergen op Zoom. Less is known about his youth. Of course he studied as a choirboy and before1479 he finished his study as a priest, unknown where, perhaps in Louvain. From 1479/80 up to 1484 he worked for the first time as choirmaster at Saint-Gertrude in Bergen op Zoom. From September 1484 he started as choirmaster at Cambrai cathedral. From 1485 up to 1491 he was choirmaster at Saint-Donatian Church de Bruges and in 1485 he was an appointed succentor at the same church. From 1487 to 1488 he made a journey to Ferrara and met the Duke Ercole I d’Este, who persuaded him to stay but failed. He travelled due to some wars to Bergen op Zoom and went back to Bruges and resigned there the 22nd of January 1491. From 1492-1497 Obrecht was an appointed choirmaster at Notre Dame Antwerp where he succeeded Jean Barbireau (c1408—1491). Probable in 1492 he travelled to France and in 1494/95 he composed motet Inter praeclarissimas virtutes which he dedicated to the Pope. Due to his illness Obrecht went back again to Bergen op Zoom and was for the second time choirmaster at Saint Gertrude in 1497 and 1498. He recovered and went back to Bruges at Saint-Donatian as a choirmaster from 1498 -1500. But in the summer of 1500 he went seriously ill. Before June 1501 he left Bruges for the last time and was again Choirmaster in Antwerp at Notre Dame 1501 -1503. In 1503 via Innsbruck he travelled to Italy where he cultivated the patronage of Duke Ercole I d’Este in Ferrara and was appointed chapel-master Maestro di capella in succeeding Josquin des Prez (1450-1521). He was not lucky unfortunately he lost his post due the his patron's untimely death in January 1505. He went to Mantua and returned in Ferrara where Obrecht died in 1505 as a victim of the plague. If the place of death suggests that Obrecht was yet another Flemish composer who received his training in the Low Countries and made his living in Italy, this is as stated before inaccurate. Obrecht wrote at least thirty mass cycles, of which two mentioned in contemporary sources are lost and one is missing two of its parts, 32 motets and 30 secular pieces. Obrecht was one of the primary composers responsible for significant changes in musical style during the late fifteenth century. He was especially important to the development of larger forms, as the first composer to systematically demonstrate unified formal structure and long-range cadential planning over the course of extended works. See for instance Missa Maria Zart this master piece takes seventy minutes. He was a leading representative of the Flemish polyphonic style! During 1480 – 1489 not hindered by any illness he was the only composer of his generation to be mentioned by Tinctoris as among the most eminent of the century, like Dunstaple, Dufay, Ockeghem, and Busnois were those mentioned alongside him, and had his works received prominently admiration at the court in Ferrara. How famous Obrecht was proves the following: two of his Masses were in the repertoire of the Pope's Sistine Chapel choir even before Obrecht stayed in Italy. He was the first composer who saw consequently the mass as we call now a symphony! The mass settings are very impressive. Only Josquin could come in his place as the leading representative of the golden age of polyphony, but thanks to Obrecht! Author:
Author:Wim Goossens
Requiem aeternam
Period:Early Renaissance
Musical form:motet
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Requiem aeternam for unaccompanied voices in 3-5 parts.
Mille quingentis
Period:Early Renaissance
Composed in:1488
Musical form:motet
Text/libretto:Latin
In memory of:the composer's father Guillermus Obrecht
Label(s):ASV Gaudeamus GAU 168
ASV Gaudeamus GAU 341
ASV Gaudeamus GAU 362
Emergo 3987
Obrecht wrote approximately thirty motets and related sacred forms, in a variety of dispositions for from two to six voices. Obrecht's work in the motet genre is his most varied, from simpler alternating settings to more abstract multi-texted pieces, many seemingly intended to serve differing purposes. While his stylistic breakthrough in the 1480s centered on the mass cycle, the motet became the subject of more intensive development toward the end of his life, with such works as Laudemus nunc Dominum (a 5) and Quis numerare queat (a 4). Also notable is the motet upon the death of his father (1488), Mille quingentis (a 4), which makes use of the requiem chant.
Author:Todd M. McComb
A very large and moving motet , Mille quingentis a4 is a lament upon the death of his father Guillermus (Willem) Obrecht and consists out of at least 208 bars. Although the title of this motet Mille Quingentis (1500) is a little bit confusing. The cantus firmus is sung by the Tenor. Obrecht uses the following wording Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis and is set in the Gregorian chant from the Requiem Mass in a minor setting.
The first part of this motet consists out of 68 bars and describes in a non-liturgical text the announcement of the Death of his father in 1488. The second part of this motet gives an indication about the time the motet seems written or the moment his father died round the feast of Cecilia (November). It is a too non-liturgical text about his father’s soul being carried to heaven surrounded by choirs of angels.
Author:Wim Goossens
Text:
Prima pars:
Mílle quingéntis vérum bis sex mínus ánnis
Vírgine progéniti lápsis ab orígine Chrísti,
Sicílides flérunt Múse, dum Fáta tulérunt
Hóbrecht Guillérmum, mágna probitáte decórum,

Secunda pars:
Cecílie ad féstum, qui Cecíliam peragrávit
Oram; ídem Orphéicum Músis Jácobum generávit.
Ergo dúlce mélos succentórum chórus álme
Cóncine ut ad célos sit vécta ánima
et dáta pálme. Amen

Cantus firmus:
Réquiem aetérnam dóna éis, Dómine,
et lux perpétua lúceat éis.

Translation:
After fifteen hundred minus twice six years
passed since the birth of Christ, the Virgin's progeny,
Sicilian Muses wept as the Fates took away
Guillermus (Willem) Obrecht, adorned with great worthiness,

On the feast of Cecilia, he who travelled thru the Caecilian
shore; the same begot the Orphic Jacob for the Muses.
Therefore a sweet song, gentle accompanying choir,
sing, that his soul may be carried to heaven
and given the palm. Amen.

Eternal rest grant them, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon them.
Contributor:Wim Goossens