Josquin des Pres revisited: the myths, the man and his music

Zoom Presentation by John Bryan

Saturday 17 April 2021, 10:00 am

While the 2020 celebrations for the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth suffered badly due to the pandemic, let’s hope that 2021 is kinder to Josquin, marking the 500th anniversary of his death. A contemporary of Leonardo da Vinci, and working in many of the same Italian cultural centres, we know far less about Josquin’s life and career than about Leonardo’s. Much of what we thought we knew has been revealed to be ‘fake news’, or at least unsubstantiated hypotheses resulting from his celebrity status in his own lifetime. Soon after his death publishers began to attribute pieces to him in order to boost sales of their part-books, and musicologists are still debating whether some of his best loved pieces are genuinely by him. Nevertheless, the securely attributed music, and other pieces that are thought to be his, give us much to celebrate in this anniversary year.  In this illustrated talk, I will survey what is known about Josquin’s career, investigate some of the ‘myths’ that grew up about him in the sixteenth century, and see some of the ways in which his music influenced other composers in the years after his death.

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