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Music Through the Centuries
by Don Robertson

© 2005 by Rising World Entertainment

-> About "Music Through the Centuries"

-> About Don Robertson

Part 1 - The Fifteenth Century

The Renaissance period in Western European culture is generally recognized as roughly spanning the years between 1400 and 1600. The fifteenth century constituted the early Renaissance period of music and the century is dominated by three astounding composers.

Modern ears sometimes are quick to brand the music of this century as musty, suited only for a musical museum. But after giving the music complete attention, it will come alive and the listeners begin to realize the wealth of great beauty in this music.

Guillaume Dufay (c1400 - 1474)

     Guillaume Dufay created a music with an original style that will dominate the century. Gustave Reese, who wrote the monumental treatise of Renaissance music Music in the Renaissance, had this to say about the composer:

"Dufay -- one of the great exponents of French music, regardless of period, a master in the line of lofty figures that had already included Perotin and Machaut -- dominated the art of composition unchallenged from 1425 to 1450, when, though still at the height of his powers, he was approached in eminence by Ockeghem, the leader of a new generation."

     Dufay was one of the most famous men of his generation. He created an entirely new musical style that would influence musical composition permanently, affecting every genre and sphere. 
     We don't know where or when he was born, but we do know that he started out as a singer in the Burgundian court, and was associated with the town of Cambrai, in Belgium, which at that time was under Burgundian rule, and that he was Flemish. He moved to Italy in 1420, however. He was already famous by the 1420s, having written two absolutely wonderful works: the secular Adieu ces bons vins de Lannoys and the sacred Apostolo glorioso. He filled various positions in Italy, including membership with the Papal choir in Rome. At some point, he returned to Cambrai where he supervised the music at the cathedral and wrote new music for its repertory. He died in 1474.


-> Missa L'homme armé; Supremum est mortalibus bonum
-> Songs
-> Mass for St. Anthony Abbot

Johannes Ockeghem (c1410 - 1497)

     Johannes Ockeghem was born in the French-speaking province of Hainaut, in the town of Saint-Ghislainor according to recent research. He was the first chaplain for three French kings and held the prestigious position of treasurer at the great cathedral and monastery of St. Martin de Tours. Ockeghem's surviving musical output is small, consisting of a few motets, several masses, and a couple of dozen chansons. Ockeghem was mostly known as an accomplished master of compositional technique, famous for his complex lines and polyphonic structures. He wrote some very beautiful music 


-> Requiem, Missa Fors Seulement
-> Missa Prolationum and Five Motets
-> Missa Mi-Mi

Jacob Obrecht (c1450 - 1505)

     Jacob Obrecht (1450c-1505) was a great Dutch composer of the last part of the century whose greatness was outshown only by Josquin Des Prez, the composer whose music will issue in in the next century.
     The facts of Obrecht's life are sketchy. In 1479 he was choir director at Bergen op Zoom. Next we find him at the cathedral of Cambrai. Later he was at the Church of Our Lady in Antwerp. He died from the plague in Ferrara in 1505, leaving behind a magnificent legacy in music: About twenty-eight mass settings, sixteen or seventeen secular works, and a number of motets.


-> Missa Caput, Salve Regina
-> Missa Sub Tuum Praesidium; Benedictus in laude
-> Missa O Lumen Ecclesiae


-> Born for the Muses

 Go to the Sixteenth Century

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