Josquin: What is he trying to hide?

From Wikipedia:

Josquin des Prez (or Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez; French: [ʒɔskɛ̃ depʁe]; c. 1450/1455 – 27 August 1521), often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He is also known as Josquin Desprez and Latinized as Josquinus Pratensis, alternatively Jodocus Pratensis.

his biography is shadowy, and we know next to nothing about his personality.

The lives of dozens of minor composers of the Renaissance are better documented than the life of Josquin.

Numerous pseudonyms, a “shadowy” biography. And which is it, Mr. Josquin, Frankish or Flemish?

William Byrd, on the other hand, lived a life completely without duplicity of any kind, remaining openly committed both to his faith and his national identity.

6 Replies to “Josquin: What is he trying to hide?”

  1. No duplicity!! He composed for the Queen while sneaking Jesuits in and out of the country. His best work he never even signed for fear of his employer. He Masses had to be performed in secret!

  2. Yes, we should not form conclusions from silence in the historical record. Byrd is fine on his own, without discrediting other composers. This article has me a bit confused. Is there some reason we are being encouraged to dislike Josquin?

  3. Well, I have to say two things. First, I suspect that unless we hear these composers' liturgical work within the context of the liturgy for which it was written it's a pale shadow of itself. Stopping the liturgy a while to let the choir do its thing while congregation and clergy fidget (as we might do now) isn't quite what either composer had in mind. Second, given that necessary decontextualisation I have no qualms about suggesting this beats both, hands down:

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