Okeghem, Jean de


Celebrated Flemish contrapuntist of the Fifteenth Century. Authorities differ widely about the dates of his birth and death, placing his birth as early as 1415 and as late as 1434, but the majority give approximately 1430. Termonde is generally considered his birthplace, and it is certain that he sang at the Cathedral at Antwerp from 1443 to 1444, where he studied under Binchois. Two years later he entered the service of Charles VII. of France and was first chaplain in 1454. In 1461 he was Royal chapelmaster and was made treasurer of St. Martin's Abbey at Tours by Louis XI. As founder of the second or New Netherland School, and the first great teacher, he holds an important place in the history of music. Agncola, Brumel, Compere, Josquin Despres, de la Rue and others studied under him and spread his teaching throughout Europe. Ambros states that all schools may be traced back to Okeghem. He did not invent canon, as some authorities once thought, but he did develop it to a high degree, employing many devices original with himself. His elaborate contrapuntal works are of great value to the musical historian, showing a wonderful advance beyond the old school. Under him masses and motets became a little less artificial, a little more capable of expressing human emotion. He wrote chansons; motets; canons; and Amasses. Parts of Missa Prolationium, which was sung at Munich, where a manuscript copy still exists, appeared   in a. number of histories. Missa Cuiusvis toni, a fine example of Okeghem's skill, published by Petreius in the fifteenth book of masses at Louvain in 1838, is in manuscript at the Vienna Library. As its title suggests, it may be sung in any mode. Of his extant work in manuscript, some motets and the mass De plus en plus are in the Papal Chapel at Rome; the masses, Pour quelque peine, and Ecce ancilla Domini, at the library in Brussels; the Kyrie of Gaudeamus in the Royal Collection at Dresden, and the entire mass in the Vienna Library; the chansons, D'ung aultre mer, Aultre Venus, and Rondo Royal, and the motet, Alma redemptoris, in Florence; and other motets at Dijon.