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CHAPTER 21 Powered By Docstoc
					    CHAPTER 21


• Ferrara was a Renaissance city-state in northern
  Italy ruled by the despotic d’Este family, the
  leaders of which were professional soldiers, yet also
  active patrons of learned music. Important
  musicians who at one time or another associated
  with the d’Este family included major composers
  such as Josquin des Prez, Jacob Obrecht, Adrian
  Willaert, Cipriano de Rore, and Carlo Gesualdo. By
  the end of the sixteenth century the court of
  Ferrara employed as many as forty full-time
              JOSQUIN DES PREZ

• Josquin des Prez (c1450-1521) was one finest
  composers of the Renaissance, or indeed of any
  age. Like many of the great composers of his
  generation, he was born in the Burgundian lands
  near the border of modern-day France and
  Belgium. First he worked as a singer at courts in
  France and then, from the mid 1480s on, in Italy,
  appearing in Milan, Mantua, Rome, and Ferrara.
  While he served only a short time (1503-1504) as
  master of the chapel in Ferrara, he left a legacy of
  two extraordinary compositions.
                       Duke Hercules

At the end of the fifteenth
century, Ferrara was ruled
by Duke Hercules d’Este (r.
1471-1505), a professional
soldier with a passionate
interest in music. In 1503
Hercules engaged Josquin
des Prez to serve as leader
of his chapel. This portrait
shows Duke Hercules in full
military armor.

• At some point during his time in Ferrara Josquin
  composed a Mass in Duke Hercules’ honor by using
  a soggetto cavato dalle vocali (“subject cut out
  from the vowels”)—the vowels in Hercules’ name
  and title were equated with syllables in the
  Guidonian hexachords. Thus Hercules dux Ferrarie
  produced “re,” “ut,” “re,” “ut,” “re,” “fa,” “mi,” “re.”
  Other composers in the history of music who also
  make use of the technique of soggetto cavato
  include Bach, Schumann, Berg, and Shostakovich.
Josquin’s soggetto cavato as it appears in
  all three of the Guidonian hexachords
Josquin set his soggetto cavato within only the natural and hard
hexachords (and the natural an octave above), and then strung them
together. This is the sequence of notes that Josquin chose to employ
to unify the five parts of the Ordinary of his Mass and honor his
patron, Duke Hercules.
The end of the Sanctus of Josquin’s Missa Herucles dux Ferrarie with
the soggetto cavato placed in the tenor voice and driving purposefully
toward the final cadence.

• Josquin des Prez was renowned above all else as a
  composer of motets. He was among the first
  composers to assess the meaning of the sacred
  text and then express it vividly through music, just
  as the madrigalists were beginning to do with the
  profane text of the madrigal.
• One of Josquin’s most powerful motets is his
  Miserere mei, Deus (Have mercy upon me, O Lord;
  1503), a setting of Psalm 50, one of the seven so-
  called Penitential Psalms, seven psalms among
  the one hundred fifty of the Psalter that are
  especially remorseful in tone.
The psalm Miserere mei, Deus was traditionally sung to a psalm tone
at the heart of which was a recitation (reciting) tone. Josquin
refashioned this slightly and made this succession of pitches serve as
the structural backbone of the motet. At the end of each verse the
tenor voice enters with the mournful wail “Have mercy upon me, O
Lord.” Josquin took this procedure--ending a section of text with the
refrain “Miserere me, Deus” --directly from a sermon that Savonarola
penned while awaiting his own execution in Florence. The use of a
mournful refrain, the somber Phrygian mode, and much word
painting results in a composition of extraordinary power and beauty.