Johannes Ockeghem, who came from the French-speaking part of the Low Countries, was one of the most important composers of the 15th century, particularly because of his influence on the music of the early Renaissance. He wrote polyphonic Masses, motets and chansons in a variety of styles. During his lifetime ...
Biography Johannes Ockeghem
Johannes Ockeghem, who came from the French-speaking part of the Low Countries, was one of the most important composers of the 15th century, particularly because of his influence on the music of the early Renaissance. He wrote polyphonic Masses, motets and chansons in a variety of styles. During his lifetime and for a time thereafter, he was highly praised as a composer and singer. For more than 40 years, he was in the service of the French court, for example as treasurer of the royal St Martin abbey in Tours. His contemporary Johannes Tinctoris devoted a book to his exceptional abilities with counterpoint and compositional technique. Ockeghem must have had an unusually low singing voice. His compositions extend the range to a low bass register (C-F). Through this, each part has its own, equally important vocal range. Ockeghem further added to this equality by allowing the bass to sing in the same tempo and rhythms as the other voices, something that was not done at the time. In the 1960s, interest in his music revived among composers and theorists.
Johannes Ockeghem (also written as Okeghem, Hocquegam and Okegus) is born about this year probably in Saint Ghislain near Mons in what is today Belgium. His family may have come from Okeghem, 25 kilometres to the north, where Flemish is spoken. He is presumably musically trained at the monastery church of St Germain in Mons.
1443 - 1444
Ockeghem is one of the vicaires-chanteur at the church of Our Lady in Antwerp, indicating he is by now a fully trained adult musician.
1446 - 1448
In an accounting document, Johannes Ockeghem is listed first among seven singers in the court chapel of Charles I, duke of Bourbon, in Moulins.
1452 - 1460
From October, Ockeghem is a singer at the royal court chapel of Charles VII in Tours and has the title chapelain. In January 1454, he is appointed premier chapelain, a previously unknown title. In March, he is also appointed canon. His annual salary is 180 Tours livres, and he regularly receives additional payments, for example in November 1458 for his contribution to the 'Te Deum' in Vendôme castle during a celebration for Cardinal Piccolomini becoming Pope Pius II. In 1459, Johannes Ockeghem presents the king a lavishly illuminated chanson, for which he is given 44 livres. His largest reward, however, is his appointment to the high and handsomely paid position of treasurer of St Martin abbey in Tours. Upon the death in 1460 of his colleague Gilles Binchois, a native of the same region, Ockeghem writes the ballade 'Mort, tu as navré de ton dart'. The composition of a musical tribute to a dead colleague becomes an example for many composers after him. With the musician Antoine Busnoys of Brugge, he writes several chansons. In the motet 'In hydraulis', Busnoys honours Ockeghem in exceptionally praising terms. The complicated canonic motet 'Ut heremita solus' is possibly Ockeghem’s response.
1461 - 1483
After the death of Charles VII in 1461, Johannes Ockeghem retains his positions. He seems to find even greater favour with the new king, Louis XI. He meets Guillaume Dufay in his native Cambrai (Kortrijk) in 1462 and 1464, the latter time as he travels with the royal court. In 1463, Ockeghem is appointed canon of Notre Dame in Paris, a titular position that he exchanges in 1470 for the title of chapelain of the monastic church of St Benoît. During this period, he visits Spain — possibly twice — on diplomatic missions to the Castilian court. In 1472, with a papal dispensation, he is consecrated as a priest. His reputation reaches its peak during these years. Poets, musicians and schoolmasters celebrate his singing voice and everywhere copies are made of his compositions.
1483 - 1496
Less is known about his life after the death of Louis XI. However, it is certain that Johannes Ockeghem visits Brugge and Damme in 1484, perhaps on a diplomatic mission, but also possibly to see Antoine Busnoys, who has been appointed maître de chapelle of St Salvator’s Cathedral in Brugge. In 1488, Ockeghem draws up his will, in which he bequeaths his possessions and revenues to the chapter of St Martins abbey.
Discography Johannes Ockeghem
The Ockeghem Collection
|Type and year||5CD, 2007|
|Label||Gaudeamus, Gau 550|
In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.
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