Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.



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Subject Topic: Composer for Sept: Johannes Ockeghem Post ReplyPost New Topic
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stefoodie
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Posted: Sept 07 2007 at 8:03pm | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

Sorry for posting this late -- we were out of town.

Ockeghem, Johannes [Jean de Ockeghem] (b St Ghislain, nr Mons, c.1410; d ?Tours, 6 Feb. 1497). Franco-Flemish church musician and composer. In 1443 he was a singer at the church of Notre Dame in Antwerp, and by 1446 was a member of the chapel of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon, centred on the Burgundian town of Moulins (near Dijon). His talents were recognized by Charles VII, King of France, and by about 1452 Ockeghem had moved to the French court, with which he remained for the rest of his life, serving three successive monarchs (Charles VII, Louis XI, and Charles VIII). In 1459 he was given the important post of treasurer of the church of St Martin in Tours. During his years with the court Ockeghem travelled outside France in the retinue of diplomatic missions, including one (in 1470) to Spain. After his death he was commemorated by some of the finest writers of the day: Erasmus, Guillaume Crétin, and Jean Molinet, whose déploration set to music by Josquin des Prez, Nymphes des bois, describes him as learned and handsome, and calls on four leading composers of the day—Josquin, Pierre de la Rue, Brumel, and Compère—to weep for the passing of their ‘bon père’.

Although it seems likely that only a fraction of Ockeghem's output has survived—14 masses, fewer than ten motets, and some 20 chansons—even from these he emerges a composer of exceptional interest. His style is characterized by its rich polyphonic texture, in which all voices are melodically significant, hierarchically equal, and thematically independent of one another. Unlike other 15th-century composers he shows relatively little interest in imitative exchanges or declamatory word-setting, preferring instead the continuous unfolding of pure melody, and an ever-changing array of texture, harmony, and sonority.

The masses range in structure from the conventional (settings based on a cantus firmus, often the tenor voice of a chanson) to the bizarre: the Missa prolationum is made completely out of canons, constantly changing in technique and always of awesome complexity; the Missa cuiusvis toni is notated without clefs and can be sung in several different modes; throughout the Missa ‘Caput’ an angular plainchant cantus firmus is placed in the lowest voice, in spite of its unsuitability to act as the bass of the texture. In these and other works Ockeghem's compositional choices seem game-like, especially to singers reading from the original mensural notation. They must also have posed real challenges to Ockeghem as a composer. The unsuspecting listener, however, misses all of this. Quite different from such virtuoso constructions is the Missa pro defunctis, a work of solemn simplicity that has the distinction of being the earliest known polyphonic requiem.

Too few of Ockeghem's motets survive to allow a fair assessment of his achievements in that genre, but he seems to have been a pioneer of richly textured works freely composed without reference to plainchant (as in Intemerata Dei mater). He is reputed to have written a canonic motet for 36 voices, but the 36-voice Deo gratias attributed to him in a 16th-century source is barely credible as his work. The chansons, in contrast, are remarkable for their quality rather than their curiosity. Such pieces as Fors seulement l'attente and Ma bouche rit were among the most popular polyphonic songs of their day.

John Milsom

Bibliography
F. Fitch, Johannes Ockeghem: Masses and Models (Paris, 1997)

John Milsom "Ockeghem, Johannes" The Oxford Companion to Music. Ed. Alison Latham. Oxford University Press, 2002. Oxford Reference Online.

_________________________________________



If you have any favorite pieces or information about this artist, please share! I will be back tomorrow with more.


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Posted: Sept 11 2007 at 3:22pm | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

I'm currently uploading Intemerata Dei Mater and will have it playing on my blog shortly.

I think it's a really great selection to listen to tomorrow especially since it's The Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ockeghem has several beautiful songs to the Virgin Mary, and Intemerata Dei Mater is one of them. Intemerata Mater means Mother Undefiled. I'll be uploading a few more in case you can't find Ockeghem in your local library.

Intemerata Dei Mater is a motet in 5 voices. I found a music sheet here (pdf file). We've been trying to pick one voice each to listen to, follow and sing along with -- it's hard, but quite fun!

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Posted: Sept 11 2007 at 4:11pm | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

As noted on the music sheet linked to above, the notation was "originally a 4th lower". Ockeghem's music was characterized by unusually low ranges. I found an article here discussing exactly this, but only the first page is available.

Very low ranges in the sacred music of Ockeghem and Tinctoris

I'll try to see if the library can get the article for me and will share any additional info here. Just something that piqued my interest.

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Posted: Sept 11 2007 at 4:52pm | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

Intemerata Dei Mater Text and Translation:

Intemerata Dei mater, generosa puella, milia carminibus quam stipant agmina divum, respice nos tantum, si quid jubilando meremur. Tu scis, virgo decens, quanti discrimine agatur exulibus, passimque quibus jactemur arenis. Nec sine te manet ulla quies spes nulla laboris,
nulla salus patriae, domus aut potiunda parentis cui regina praees, dispensans omnia; laeto suscipis ore pios dulci quos nectare potas et facis assiduos epulis accumbere sacris. Aspiciat facito miseros pietatis ocello Filius, ipsa potes; fessos hinc arripe sursum, diva, virgo manu, tutos et in arce locato. Amen.


Undefiled mother of God, gracious maiden, whom flights of angels throng with a thousand songs, look down on us, if we deserve any reward for our celebrations. You, noble virgin, know in what danger we exiles are, in what wastes of sand we are tossed about and what trials we face on all sides. Without you there is no rest, no hope in our travail, no gaining salvation for our country, no regaining that ancestral home over which you reign and to which you give all things: but you raise up the devout with a cheering face, give them sweet nectar, and invite
them to recline at sacred banquets forevermore. Prevail upon your son to look upon the wretched with an eye of pity, we know you can:

Virgin, lift up the weary in your heavenly hand, take them away from this place, and set them safely in the citadel. Amen.

From Musica Spei

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Posted: Sept 11 2007 at 5:10pm | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

More about Johannes Ockeghem from Todd McComb:

Quote:
Ockeghem's surviving musical output is relatively small, comprising a mere handful of motets, several masses, and a couple of dozen secular chansons. His style is marked by a careful handling of vocal ranges in a primarily four-voice texture, and an emphasis on complex and expressive bass lines. This emphasis on lower textures opened up a new world of structural possibilities for Renaissance composers, and Ockeghem's compositions exploit these potentials in a variety of ways. Today he is best known for his masses and his ability to integrate large-scale forms in ways which were as unparalleled then as they are now. By the sixteenth century, Ockeghem was known primarily as an accomplished technical master, famous for his complex lines and polyphonic structures, which had the appearance of intractable puzzles for all but the most accomplished musicians. This perception of difficulty, as well as the unique texture of his works, is due in part to his emphasis on long lines which gradually unfold with the formal development of a piece – a development accomplished by a carefully executed structural plan which includes the supression of cadential features in one or more voices at otherwise "planned" cadences. Ockeghem's reputation as a purely technical master was also earned by the relatively long survival of his more intricate polyphonic explorations as textbook sources. These include his incomparable Missa Prolationum, constructed entirely in canon; his Missa Cuiusvis toni, designed to be performable in any of the available modes (catholicon); and his chanson "Prenez sur moi," which is both a strict canon and a catholicon. However, Ockeghem's music is by no means dominated by these technical features (and even in these works, the result is astonishing); his contrapuntal language is extremely varied and complex, largely abandoning the simpler fauxbourdon style of Dufay, but not resting exclusively on the pervasive imitation characteristic of Josquin and the successive continental masters. Today, Ockeghem is regarded not only as one of the pioneers of Western polyphony, but as one of the supreme masters of both lyrical and contrapuntal invention.


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Posted: Sept 11 2007 at 5:14pm | IP Logged Quote stefoodie



Johannes Ockeghem is the older guy there at the back.

And more about him from Bo Holten:

Quote:
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.


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Posted: Sept 11 2007 at 5:29pm | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

And more from Here of a Sunday Morning:

Quote:
Where Dufay's music impresses us by its grace, soaring majesty, and formal clarity, Ockeghem presents an entirely different musical personality: moody, flamboyant, enigmatic. In common with so many composers of the era, Ockeghem was trained as a singer. His deep bass voice was greatly admired and may explain his fondness for exploring previously unnavigated subterranean registers. A characteristic aspect of Ockeghem's music is its integration of old medieval techniques of hidden structures into the new contrapuntal Renaissance style. One notable example is the use of canon in his Missa Prolationum (Mass of the Time Signatures). Each movement of this four-part piece contains two different canons sung simultaneously, with each part moving at a different speed. No less astonishing are his Missa Cuiusvis toni(Mass in any mode) which may be sung in any one of four modes, and the motet Deo gratias,a canon for four nine-part choruses (thirty-six total parts). Yet despite the enormous technical feat involved in composing such works, Ockeghem created music of contemplative vastness and inward rapture.


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Posted: Sept 11 2007 at 5:32pm | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

You can download an mp3 of Requiem, as well as Kyrie from Missa Cuiusvis toni,

here, from Antioch Chorus.

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Posted: Sept 11 2007 at 5:40pm | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

Here's a compilation of beautiful manuscripts from the Library of Congress Exhibition Rome Reborn -- it includes an illuminated page from the Chigi Codex containing Ockeghem's first page of Missa Ecce Ancilla Domini:

Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library & Renaissance Culture

More info from Wikipedia on the Chigi Codex, including a larger version of the Ockeghem illuminated music manuscript page here -- just beautiful!

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Posted: Sept 12 2007 at 11:13am | IP Logged Quote stefoodie

Thought I'd include some useful terms here to learn and understand:

motet - a polyphonic choral composition on a sacred text usually without instrumental accompaniment; also called motectum or motellus

More about motets

chanson - French for 'song', from Latin cantio

More about chanson

cantus firmus - literally, 'fixed song' or 'fixed melody' - the plainsong or simple Gregorian melody originally sung in unison and prescribed as to form and use by ecclesiastical tradition; also a melodic theme or subject, especially one for contrapuntal treatment

More from Encyclopedia Britannica



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