The Early Byrds: new programme ‘Ile Fantazies de Joskin’

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In Italy, the land that inspired the flourishing of culture during the Renaissance, Flemish musicians were
all the rage. Rival noblemen tried to attract to their courts the most brilliant singers, who often were also
composers of great renown. The highest stature was that of Josquin des Prez. Josquin sang and wrote in
many different places where he met his compatriots who became his colleagues abroad. The two main
competitors for musicians were the courts of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Ercole d’Este, in Milan and
Ferrara respectively. The ducal chapel in Milan counted among its members, next to Josquin, the virtuosic
Alexander Agricola and Johannes Martini, who however normally was a leader of the Este choir. Through
his lifelong friend Cardinal Ascanio Sforza Josquin d’Ascanio made the acquaintance of Ercole I d’Este. In a
competition with Heinrich Isaac for the job of Maestro di Capella, Josquin was preferred by the Duke, even
though his adviser warned him that although Josquin wrote better, he composed when he wanted to and
not when someone else one wanted him to. The Ferrarese court included Johannes Ghiselin-Verbonnet,
whose fame rivalled Josquin’s. Verbonnet was a travel companion of Agricola on his travels through
France and Italy, recruiting talented singers on the way. Because of an outbreak of the plague in 1503,
Josquin did not stay for long. His successor Jacob Obrecht died of the plague only two years later.
The imagination of Josquin lends his music a transcendent quality, combining polyphony, form and
symbolism with apparent easy. This programme demonstrates how he is related to his colleagues and how
he was aware of the context in which he wrote. The music is be verbally illustrated and supplied with the
original texts. In this way, the Early Byrds share with the audience a glimpse of the genius of Josquin and
shows why Martin Luther called him “der Noten Meister.”

The programme

Josquin des Prez (c. 1450/1455 –1521): A la mort/Monstra te esse matrem (Florence, Biblioteca del Conservatorio di
Musica Luigi Cherubini, Ms. Basevi 2439)
Hayne von Ghizeghem (c. 1445 – 1476 to 1497): De tous biens plaine (Laborde Chansonnier)
Josquin: De tous biens plaine (Petrucci: Harmonice Musices Odhecaton Canti A, Venice, 1501)
Alexander Agricola (1445 or 1446 –1506): De tous biens plaine (Petrucci, Canti C, 1503)
Johannes Ghiselin-Verbonnet (fl. 1491–1507): De tous biens playne (Petrucci, Canti B, 1501)
Josquin: Ile Fantazies de Joskin (Rome, Biblioteca Casanatense, Ms. 2856)
Jacob Obrecht (c. 1457/58 – 1505): Textless I (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Ms 3154)
Josquin: Fortuna d’un gran tempo (Petrucci: Harmonice Musices Odhecaton Canti A, Venice, 1501)
O Venus bant (melody: Een schoon liedekens-boeck, Antwerpen,1544 and text: Amsterdam, UvA, UB I A 24)
Josquin: O Venus bant (Petrucci: Harmonice Musices Odhecaton Canti A, Venice, 1501)
Alexander Agricola: O Venus bant I (Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, MS Banco Rari 229)
Heinrich Isaac (c. 1450 – 26 March 1517): O Venus bant (DTÖ no. 31)
Josquin: La Bernardina (Petrucci, Harmonice Musices Odhecaton Canti C, 1503)
Jean Ghiselin-Verbonnet: La Alfonsina (Petrucci: Canti A, Venice, 1501)
Johannes Martini (c. 1440 – late 1497 or early 1498): La Martinella (Rome, Biblioteca Casanatense, Ms. 2856)
Heinrich Isaac: La Martinella (DTÖ no. 24)
Josquin: Ce pauvre mendiant/Pauper sum ego (NJE 27.5)

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