Dufay to Josquin–The Transition from Late Medieval to the Renaissance

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Program: #07-19    Air Date: Apr 30, 2007

Early and mature works of Guillaume Dufay, and works that were attributed to Josquin now known to be by various contemporaries, lead us through the rich half-century from 1440 to 1490--from the last hints of medievalism to full-bore mature Renaissance polyphony; we'll conclude with Josquin pure & true.

Our guide will be long-time Millennium guest and chant expert, Fr. Jerome Weber, early music critic of Fanfare magazine.  In each case, the comments in italics are from Fr. Weber. 

IV. Dufay--Flos florum


(Ensemble Musica Nova). Zig-Zag Territoires CD #ZZT 050301.  The complete works of Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474) have not yet been recorded, but we are close. The disc begins with one of Dufay’s most important iseorhythmic motets, one dedicated to honor the city of Florence, probably written in 1436 while Dufay was a singer in the papal chapel, which was in Florence for the dedication of the cathedral; this is followed by a hymn alternating polyphony and chant and a cantilena-motet. The rest of the disc offers cantilena-motets, hymns and an antiphon. All works are by Dufay:


--Salve flos Tusce gentis ("Hail, flower of the Tuscan race, Florence").

--Urbs beata Jerusalem ("Blest city of Jerusalem").

--Flos florum ("Flower of flowers, fountain of gardens").

--Imperatrix angelorum ("Empress of the angels").

--Ave maris stella ("Hail, star of the sea, Holy Mother of God").

--Anima mea liqefacta est ("My soul fainted when my beloved spoke").

--Jesu corona virginum ("Jesus, crown of virgins").

--Ave Virgo que de celis ("Hail, Virgin, who from heaven").

--Gaude Virgo Mater Christi ("Rejoice, Virgin, Mother of Christ").



V. Antoine Busnois: Missa O Crux lignum


(Orlando Consort). Harmonia Mundi CD #HMU 907333. Antoine Busnois (c. 1430-1492) is an important composer of the last half of the 15th century, but he only began to receive detailed study after 1982. Papers of a conference in 1992 were published as Antoine Busnoys (Oxford, 2000). He was a singer in Tours and Poitiers, then from 1467 he was at the Burgundian court for the reign of Charles the Bold and after till 1483. He spent his last ten years as a canon in Bruges. This recording begins with a motet, two chansons, a chanson-motet and a hymn. The only Mass other than his Missa L’homme armé is Missa O crux lignum attolamus, which seems to belong to his last years in Bruges, since its cantus firmus is a sequence for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross that was significant there. All works are by Busnois:


--Gaude caelestis Domine (Motet: "Rejoice, heavenly lady").

--A une damme j'ay fait veu (Chanson: "I have vowed to a lady").

--Amours nous traitte honnestement (Chanson: "Love treats us honorably").

--Rejois-toy, terre de France (Chanson/motet: "Rejoice, O land of France!").

--Conditor alme siderum ("Kindly creator of the stars").

--Missa O Crux lignum.



VI. Josquin and his contemporaries


(Binchois Consort). Hyperion CD #CDA 67183. The program is a mix of securely attributed Josquin works, doubtful works of Josquin, and works of his contemporaries. The point is to show how difficult it is to identify Josquin’s music on stylistic grounds. The question of attributions arose once it was determined that Josquin des Prez did not work in Milan from 1459 to 1498, as he had been identified with another musician of similar name. This resulted in moving his presumed birth year by more than a decade, placing it around 1455-58. Some works had been attributed to Josquin on stylistic grounds based on their similarity to other works no longer attributable to him. This program begins and ends with works certainly belonging to Josquin and, at the opposite extreme, includes an excellent piece that certainly belongs to an obscure contemporary, Nicolaes Craen. Tracks 1-3 begin with Josquin and end with a fine work by Nicolaes Craen that is certainly not by Josquin but is not shamed in the company of his works.            Tracks 4-7 begin with a work that was attributed to Josquin when the Sistine Choir sang it. Willaert arrived and declared that he had composed it, so the choir never sang it again. The three works that follow it were formerly attributed to Josquin but have now been attributed to three other composers. Tracks 8-9 end with a work certainly by Josquin.


attributed to JOSQUIN: Inter natos mulierum ("Among those that are born of women").

JOSQUIN des PREZ: Planxit autem David ("And David lamented over Saul").

NICOLAES CRAEN (d. 1507): Tota pulchra es ("Thou art all fair, my love").

ADRIAN WILLAERT (c.1490-1562): Verbum bonum et suave ("The good and sweet word, let us resound it").

MATHURIN FORESTIER?: Veni sancte spiritus ("Come, Holy Spirit").

JACQUES or NICHOLAS CHAMPION?: De profundis ("Out of the depths I have cried unto Thee, O Lord").

NOEL BAULDEWEYN?: Ave caro Christi cara ("Hail, dear flesh of Christ").

attributed to JOSQUIN: Recordare, virgo mater ("Remember, Virgin Mother, in the sight of God").

JOSQUIN des PREZ: Pater noster/Ave Maria (Our Father/Hail, Mary).

Composer Info

Guillaume de Machaut, (c. 1300-1377), Johannes Ciconia, Solage (fl. 1380s), Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474), Antoine Busnois (c. 1430-1492), NICOLAES CRAEN (d. 1507), ADRIAN WILLAERT (c.1490-1562), JACQUES or NICHOLAS CHAMPION, NOEL BAULDEWEYN,

CD Info

CD # 1823, CD # ZZT 021002, CD #AV 2089, CD #ZZT 050301, #HMU 907333, #CDA 67183,

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