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Paper Session
Nov 12, 2021 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM(America/Chicago)
20211112T1100 20211112T1150 America/Chicago Josquin at Five-Hundred: The Lost Years

For all of the recent advances in our knowledge about Josquin des Prez, questions of biography and attribution continue to loom large. Especially puzzling is a gap spanning ca. 1495–1503, between the composer's service in the papal chapel and at the Ferrarese court. During this pivotal period Ottaviano Petrucci began publishing polyphonic music prints that would come to establish Josquin's international fame. And yet even if we can be all but certain that Josquin underwent considerable development as a composer around the turn of the sixteenth century, little documentary evidence survives to guide us through these "lost years."

This session brings renewed methodological and conceptual focus to the problem of the canon while refining our picture of Josquin's employment in France and his role in the development of the French-court motet. Leaving aside an unproductive tendency toward hero-worship in the discourse on this composer and building on recent work by David Fallows and Joshua Rifkin, we offer a clear-eyed approach to the canon while presenting new analyses of the music, the sources, and the networks of musicians who can be associated with the French royal court. Taken together our findings make possible a more convincing narrative for this consequential middle period in Josquin's career, while radiating outward to shed light on aspects of court poetry, compositional design, and reception history.

AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org


For all of the recent advances in our knowledge about Josquin des Prez, questions of biography and attribution continue to loom large. Especially puzzling is a gap spanning ca. 1495–1503, between the composer's service in the papal chapel and at the Ferrarese court. During this pivotal period Ottaviano Petrucci began publishing polyphonic music prints that would come to establish Josquin's international fame. And yet even if we can be all but certain that Josquin underwent considerable development as a composer around the turn of the sixteenth century, little documentary evidence survives to guide us through these "lost years."


This session brings renewed methodological and conceptual focus to the problem of the canon while refining our picture of Josquin's employment in France and his role in the development of the French-court motet. Leaving aside an unproductive tendency toward hero-worship in the discourse on this composer and building on recent work by David Fallows and Joshua Rifkin, we offer a clear-eyed approach to the canon while presenting new analyses of the music, the sources, and the networks of musicians who can be associated with the French royal court. Taken together our findings make possible a more convincing narrative for this consequential middle period in Josquin's career, while radiating outward to shed light on aspects of court poetry, compositional design, and reception history.


The Josquin Canon at Five-Hundred
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 17:50:00 UTC

No less contentious today than half a century ago, the Josquin canon has sparked confusion since well before the composer's death. Approximately 344 works bear his name in at least one extant source, with attributions entering circulation from the mid 1480s through the early seventeenth century. Only a fraction of this music is unquestionably attributable to Josquin; indeed much has been written about works of uncertain authorship. But although scholars have repeatedly confronted the problem, until recently it has not been possible to tackle it from the ground up. With the _New Josquin Edition_ now complete, this is an apt moment for taking stock.


Building on principles introduced into the musicological discourse some thirty-five years ago by Joshua Rifkin, this paper proposes a practical methodology for attributive research while also confronting head-on the idolatry that has too often beclouded the study of Josquin's music. The methodology, developed over more than a decade in collaboration with Rifkin, yields a new work list in which pieces attributed to Josquin are classified by degrees of confidence. This list can help ground future research on Josquin's music and its reception over the long sixteenth century. It can also help us approach the heterogeneous and in some ways baffling collection of works that would seem to date from the composer's "lost years" (ca. 1495–1503).

Presenters
JR
Jesse Rodin
Stanford University
Josquin in France: A Poetic Historiography
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 17:50:00 UTC

After Josquin's departure from the papal chapel, he all but disappears from the historical record for a period of approximately eight years, save for a handful of sightings in France and Burgundy. His name surfaces, however, in another kind of document: poems by French and Burgundian members of the rhétoriqueur school, which counted among its ranks prominent figures such as Jean Molinet, Guillaume Crétin, and Jean Lemaire. These poets often used lists of objects or names as a stylistic device to outline what was known about an area or topic. In this context it is striking that Josquin is named in several poetic lists of contemporary musicians.


Drawing on research by Adrian Armstrong and Sarah Kay, I argue that these poems perform significant rhetorical functions that carry implications for our understanding of Josquin's status. Many writers of lyrical verse were also responsible for prose historical chronicles; by the fifteenth century these poet-historians began experimenting with blended forms. Their efforts raised the status of verse to a mode of knowledge with a capacity to convey historical truths. Verse historiography thus allows us to situate Josquin within a circle of musicians, poets, patrons, and other members of cultural networks. I suggest that Josquin's presence in poetic lists evinces not merely an abstract assemblage of musicians, but a true reflection of existing relationships. Aligning these poems with the documented movements of the poets and of the French royal court opens up persuasive scenarios for Josquin's activities in France during these "lost years." 

Presenters
JJ
Jeannette Jones
College Of The Holy Cross
Josquin des Prez and the Origins of the French-Court Motet
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 17:50:00 UTC

In his article "A Black Hole? Problems in the Motet around 1500," Joshua Rifkin identifies paired duos as the salient stylistic feature of a new motet style that emerged rather suddenly at the French royal court soon after 1500. Paired duos describe the immediate repetition of a two-voice passage of text and music in the remaining voices of a four-voice texture. These duos, often imitative at the fourth or fifth, continue for the duration of the motet, occasionally giving way to four-voice homorhythm or imitation. Such paired duos feature prominently in the motets of the French-court composer Jean Mouton.


Only a selection of motets by Josquin des Prez (e.g., _Memor esto_ and _O admirable commercium_) deploys this style with Mouton's consistency. Yet one of the fundamental principles underlying Mouton's French-court motet--the literal repetition of text and music, line by line--can be identified in almost all of Josquin's motets spanning his entire composing career from Milan to Condé-sur-l'Escault, to a degree exceptional for the period. Such "autonomous repetition" appears systematically both in early motets such as _Ave Maria…virgo serena_ and in later, otherwise very different works such as _Benedicta es, celorum regina_.


Offering an overview of Josquin's text-music repetition over the course of his career, I argue that the paired duos of the French-court motet represent one instantiation of an overarching principle that he cultivated with special frequency. I further consider three possible exceptions to Josquin's repetitive principle--_Liber generationis_, _Factum est autem_, and _Stabat mater_--and their implications for Josquin's biography and the chronology of his works during the lost years. The result is a clearer picture of the role Josquin played in developing the imitation-based polyphonic style that would come to the fore in the sixteenth century.

Presenters
BK
Brett Kostrzewski
Boston University
Stanford University
College of the Holy Cross
Boston University
Smith College
Boston University
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