Gombert was born in Flanders sometime between 1495 and 1500. Not all that much is known about his life he became a singer in the court chapel of Emperor Charles V in 1526 and was granted benefices in Courtrai and Béthune by the Emperor who also made him Master of the Children of the Chapel. In 1538 disaster struck – Gombert was accused and found guilty of having raped a choirboy he was sentenced to the galleys but was later pardoned, he moved to Tournai where he was a prebend and died there around 1560. Quite a lot of his music survives including eleven Masses, a separate Credo, eight Magnificat settings, and more than one hundred and sixty motets of which more than a quarter are Marian, his surviving secular music consists of eighty chansons and a few other secular pieces.
His setting of the eleventh century Lenten text Media vita in morte sumus (In the midst of life we are in death) was first published in Venice in 1539 in a volume of six-part motets. It's a very good example of his work and shows the skill and care he put into his work. Its polyphony follows the chant quite closely but it's far from being plain. It's a richly textured piece for six voices characterised by flowing imitations that overlap one another giving the singers little respite. He obviously liked the melody because he used it and his treatment of it in this motet again as the basis for his five-voice Missa de Media vita. Enjoy :-)
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