Johannes Ockeghem

c.1420-c.1495. Musical composer. This great composer belongs to the second generation of highly talented musicians, born near what is now the French-Belgian border, who rapidly advanced the art of counterpoint until it became the expressive medium of the great Renaissance choral legacy. Unlike many of his great countrymen he did not go to Italy, and spent much of his career at the French court. Allowing for the loss of a number of his works, his output was surprisingly small. We have only eleven complete Masses by him, and a small number of motets and secular chansons. His work is noted in particular for his ability to write a “seamless web” of polyphonic voices interrupted by a minimum of cadences points. He was one of the first to write in five voice-parts. He enjoyed an extraordinary degree of esteem by his fellow musicians, and a number of déplorations were written upon his death. An exceptionally beautiful one was set to music by Josquin Desprez,* and there is also one with words by Erasmus,* who has also left witness to Ockeghem's worth as a man.