Gombert, Nicolas

About 1495-after 1570

Born at Bruges; was one of the most important composers of the Flemish School, and the most eminent pupil of Josquin Despres. He was master of the boys at the Imperial Chapel, Madrid, and is thought to have been chapelmaster from 1530 to 1534. Charles V. appointed him later to a sinecure position in the Netherlands, thus enabling him to pass his old age in comfort. Fetis is quoted as having pronounced him a forerunner of Palestrina in church music; but although skilled in learned forms of music-writing, his tastes were rather in the direction of secular and chamber-music, with an inclination toward the sentimental, which affected even his fugues. His favorite subjects were pastoral, and his method of treating them is described as similar to that of Haydn and Mozart, and as refreshingly simple and direct. His descriptive power is said to have permeated his church music also. His compositions are over two hundred and fifty in number and include masses, motets, songs, and ancient dances; the chief merit which they possess for modern ears, according to Brown, being their delightful quaintness. Busby said that Gombert's masses and motets "entitle him to a rank with the first masters of his day."