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Johannes Ockeghem
c.1420 - 1497
The Netherlands / Belgium
Picture Picture
J. Ockeghem
Johannes Ockeghem -also: Okeghem, Ockenheim, Okenghem- (c.1420 - 06/02/1497), a Flemish composer.
Author:Theo Willemze
Source:Componistenlexicon
Johannes Ockeghem , second Flemish school, so Flemish composer was born in Hainaut or Dendermonde about 1410/1420 and he passed away in Tours february the 6th 1497.
In the mid twenties of the 15th century he was a member of the choir at the cathedral in Antwerp.Up to 1448 he was a member of the chapel choir of Charles I of Bourbon. From 1452 he was singer, composer and choir-master at the French court and served Charles VI and Louis XI.
In the late 1450 he was granted the honorary post of Treasurer to the Abbey of St. Martin at Tours were he passed away.
In 1463 he was appointed Dean at the Notre-Dame in Paris. Two years later followed by his appointment as Maistre de la Chapelle de chant du Roi. He travelled to Spain and went back to Flanders to his native region. He was that much admired and respected musical mentor of his days!
Ockeghem's outpot is modest in size not in quality.
15 complete masses, some partial mass movements and also the earliest existing polyphonic Requiem, 8 motets and 20 chansons.
His best music can be found in his masses.
The Masses he written for choir whose 4 parts were equal in importance- the real sence of polyphony!- and often rather low in range , but hardly developped the idea of imitation, to be so an important development. Using a unifying theme, cantus firmus, imitation was one of the most important device used and develloped by Ockeghem. His chansons are more conventional in style, compared to his masses, in 3 parts with the focus on an melodious top line.
Ockeghem's work is distinghuised by using first the fluidity of a polyphony which never was used before.
Author:Wim Goossens
Mort tu as navré de ton dart
Period:Early Renaissance
Composed in:1460
Musical form:motet à 4 vocibus
Text/libretto:French and Latin
In memory of:Gilles Binchois
Label(s):Archiv 453419-2
L'oiseau Lyre 436194-2
A beautiful four-part STBB motet written by Johannes Ockeghem on occasion of the death of probably his teacher or his colleague who died in 1460. The text suggests at least personal acquaintance with Binchois (1400 - 1460). The Cantus Firmus is written in French and contains three strophes and will be supported by three lower voices indicating and suggesting the mourn and sadness with: Misere mei Jhesu Domine, dona ei requiem. Quem incruce redemisti precioso sanguine Pie Jhesu Domine dona ei requiem.
Author:Wim Goossens
Picture
G. Binchois
(dedicatee)
Requiem
Period:Early Renaissance
Composed in:1461c
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:33'09''
Label(s):Arion ARN 68149
Virgin 602532 2
The death of the Franco-Flemish musician Johannes Ockeghem, one of the great composers of the 15th century, on 6th February 1497 brought a stream of poems and laments in his honour. The greatest minds of his time, the poet Guillaume Cretin, the poet-composer Jean Molinet and even Erasmus of Rotterdam, wrote of Ockeghem in the highest tones. Erasmus had early expressed himslef in less complimentary terms on the flourishing polyphony of church music, but on the old Flemish master, who was nearly inety, he had to say: "Ergone conticuit / Vox illa nobillis / Auera vox Okegi?" ("Is then silent / The golden voice of Ockeghem?").
It is not conceivable that he was here alluding to Ockeghem's very well paid position as treasurer at the monastery church of St. Martin in Tours? Surely not, since in all the other eulogies the honestty and piety of the composer is underlined.
Ockeghem's pupils, among whom apparently all the great composers of the period belong, Josquin, de la Rue, Brumel and Compére, were invited to compose laments for him and met this request, Josquin even with his absolute masterpiece. The beloved teacher was here described not only as master of all means of musical expression, but at the same time as a wise and learned man, with great knowledge in "Mathematics, Arithmetic and Geometry, Astrology and, over and above this, Music".
That Ockeghem was very well versed in these intellectual disciplines is seen also in his great interest in complicated musical enigmas and puzzle games, for example, a whole Mass in which each of the four voices sings constantly in its own rhythm, while two voices sing in canon; similarly in the Missa prolationum, not to mention the Missa cuiusvis toni which can be sung in all four classical modes, whereby the course of the individual parts remains in principle the same, while the whole work will sound completely different.
Yet these skilful intricacies apart, the actual sound of the music must be considered. It remains, with all its extravagant complexity, above all interesting to hear. It is clear that Ockeghem's wealth of imagination knows no bounds. His ideas bubble forth in an almost endless and virtually shapeness stream of luxuriant invention. In this respect there is no music like this. Rhythmically it is extremely variable and of a degree of difficulty that we first find again in a comparable form in our own century.
The music radiates, in spite of its absolute intellectual principles of construction, a marked medieval mysticism, a search fro a religious goal through the incomprehensibility in music, the well-controlled primeval forest of sounds, which come upon the ears and tell of the incomprehensible power of God and the infinite extent and grace of Heaven.
Over and over this, there is a picture of Johannes Ockeghem. Portraits of medieval composers are seldom found and this was painted first twenty years after his death. In spite of that here he stands among his singers, with glasses on his nose, the great, thin and consistently unerring master, reminding the observer that he was in his time almost as well known for his glorious, deep bass voice as for his unique language as a composer.
His requiem (Missa pro defunctis), for 4 voices contains:
- Introitus: Requiem
- Kyrie
- Graduale: Si ambulem
- Tractus: Sicut cervus
- Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe
Author:Bo Holten, translation by Keith Anderson
This Requiem is used by Juan García de Basorto.
Bent Sørensen composed some additions to this Requiem in 2012.