Josquin Des Prez (±1450 1521): Virgo salutiferi

In 1503 Duke Ercole I of Ferrara overruled his advisers and employed Josquin as maestro di cappella they’d advised him to hire Heinrich Isaac instead of Josquin because he was easier to get on with, was more companionable, far less inclined to make a fuss about composing on demand, and last but by no means…

John Taverner (±1490–1545): Audivi vocem de caelo

Taverner’s setting of this responsory takes its text from Matthew 25: 4-6. At first sight it’s a standard alternatim setting in which the chant alternates with polyphony in which it can also be heard as a cantus firmus but its original scoring is somewhat unusual in that it was originally scored for high voices only…

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Vexilia Regis (more hispano)

In Tom├ís Luis de Victoria’s time Venantius Fortunatus’  hymn Vexilla Regis with its strong connection with the cross was sung at Vespers from Passion Sunday which coincides with Palm Sunday through to Good Friday. Victoria’s setting was published in the Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae which he published in 1585. In the original printing de Victoria described…

Nicolas Gombert (±1495-±1560): Musae Jovis

Nicolas Gombert’s  "Deploration on the death of Josquin Desprez" is a motet-chanson set in the Phrygian mode. You may sometimes see it referred to as an Ars combinatoria composition which means quite simply that a secular text is combined with a Latin cantus firmus sung by one of the tenor voices in long drawn out…

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Gaude, gaude, gaude Maria

We know very little about Sheppard’s life (and much of what we ‘knew’ turns out to be wrong) but his contemporaries and later generations of musicians fully recognised his importance more than 40 years after his death Thomas Morley praised his music.  His Latin works mostly date from the reigns of Henry VII and Mary…