Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Haiku Wednesday: Josquin des Prez


Josquin des Prez

A moment in time:
It happened to be Josquin.
Frozen in memory.

The October skies
Were vivid blue with clouds by

The air was so crisp
And leaves rustled underfoot;
World in equipoise.

Then I heard Josquin,
Motets of aching beauty,
Many years too late.

As the notes wove
Around each other and me,
Nothing was the same.

In 2012 I wrote this to a friend:

How did I manage to live 50 years without hearing Josquin Des Prez motets?  Yesterday the sky was bright blue, the clouds were puffy and white, and Josquin…sublime.

It was a before and after moment.  After was somehow…different.  It was early in my forays into polyphony, and since then other pieces of that period have endeared themselves to me more:  Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli, Lotti’s Crucifixus for eight voices.  But that combination of Josquin and autumn will remain with me always.

Josquin des Prez (around 1450-1521) was a Franco-Flemish composer.  He was one of the great experimentalists, adopting a variety of different styles.  His music spread widely thanks to the use of the newly invented printing press.  One of his more well-known works is the Missa L’homme armé, whose theme is based on a popular tune.  He wrote both sacred and secular music.

Here is a Josquin gem, La Déploration sur le Mort de Jean Ockeghem, performed by Vox Luminis.

2 thoughts on “Haiku Wednesday: Josquin des Prez

  1. Even though too late
    you can still go back
    borne by waves of sound
    living now before
    and then after
    at once.

    How can beauty ache?
    Well it does
    as it weaves
    and that’s its point.

    It is always being borne
    every moment
    though our listening
    and our playing
    begins and ends.

    Hark, hark, hark.


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