Depres or Despres, Josquin

He was a Flemish composer, and one of the great masters of the Netherlands School, which had so great an influence upon the development of music. He was born at Conde, near St. Quentin, about the middle of the Fifteenth Century, and was the first man who could properly be called a great composer in the modern acceptation of the term. He was also a good teacher. He was a chorister in the collegiate church of St. Quentin and for some time chapelmaster there. About 1471 he was a pupil of Okeghem, and then went to the papal court of Sixtus IV., where he was held in the highest esteem as a musician. In 1486 he entered the papal choir under Innocent VIII. Adami, in a list of the singers of that time, mentions Josquin as one of the greatest supporters and cultivators of church music. Several masses in manuscript are preserved in the library of the Sistine chapel to show what he accomplished while in Rome. He seems to have enjoyed the patronage of Lorenzo of Florence, of Louis XII. of France, and of the Emperor Maximilian I., and it may be inferred that he must have gained the public favor either by his works or performances before he could be noticed by a sovereign. Burney calls him the " father of modern harmony." He deserves to be classed as one of the greatest musical geniuses of any period. He was the first to employ counterpoint as the means to an end, and to blend popular -and ecclesiastical music. He was the inventor of the part-songs and canzonets. He is the oldest writer whose works are preserved to us almost entire. While provost of the Cathedral chapel, he died at Conde in the year 1521. His compositions were as well-known and as much practised throughout Europe at the beginning of the Sixteenth Century as Handel's were in England a few years ago. In the music-book of Prince Henry, afterwards Henry VIII., which is preserved in Pepys' College at Cambridge, there are several of Depres' compositions, and we are told that Anne Boleyn during her residence in France had collected and learned a number of them. His fame was chiefly gained by his masses and motets, a large collection of which, perhaps the most valuable, is preserved in the British Museum. His printed works include nineteen masses, fifty secular pieces and about one hundred and fifty motets. Several of the masses and many of the motets exist in manuscript scores at Brussels. Among his secular pieces is a dirge written on the death of Okeghem. Masses in manuscript are at Munich and Cambrai, which some historians claim was his birthplace. Fragments of his works are to be found in the histories of Kiesewetter, Burney, Busby and Hawkins. His pupils all had a share in the formation of the great schools of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.