El Grillo, Josquin Desprez

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El Grillo, Josquin Desprez
Year of Composition:    
Susan Fancher

Composer Biography

1450 — 1521

Desprez, Josquin was born in the northern France/Belgium area. We have little knowledge of his early life, but it is known that in 1459 he was a singer at the Cathedral in Milan. In 1472, Josquin left the service of the duke and entered the service of the Sforza family, the governing family of Milan. As evidence of their rulership, they employed many artists, including singers, instrumentalists, sculptors, and painters. The Sforza family was, for example, one of Leonardo da Vinci's patrons.

Just as Beethoven summarized the accomplishments of the Viennese school, Josquin summarized the accomplishments of the preceding generations of Dufay and Ockeghem. He is on the border between the Middle Ages and the modern world. His works include 18 masses, 100 motets, 70 chansons, and other secular works.

Composition Notes

El Grillo (The Cricket) is a delightful example of Josquin's secular music. The motet Ave Maria demonstrates Josquin's absolute mastery of counterpoint and vocal orchestration.