Jacob Obrecht

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Obrecht, Jacob


Born Nov. 22, 1450 or 1452, in Bergen op Zoom or Utrecht; died 1505 in Ferrara. Netherlands composer and prominent representative of the Netherland School.

Obrecht served as precentor in the largest Dutch cathedrals, including those of Utrecht (from 1476), Bergen op Zoom (1479–84 and 1496–98), Cambrai (1484–85), Bruges (1487–92), and Antwerp (1492–96 and 1500–02). In 1487 and 1488, and again from 1504 until his death, he was court musician for the Duke d’Este in Ferrara, where he died of the plague.

Obrecht was a prominent master of both religious and secular choral polyphonic music. Making extensive use of Flemish and German folk-song themes, he skillfully wove them into a polyphonic fabric. A musician, mathematician, and philosopher, highly interested in Pythagoreanism, he wrote his compositions using precisely calculated proportions. His extant works include 26 masses for three or four voices (the most famous are those devoted to the Virgin Mary and his parody masses); 31 motets for three to six voices (including the famous Salve regina); 25 Flemish secular part songs; and instrumental adaptations of songs for dance.


Gruber, R. Istoriia muzykal’noi kul’tury, vol. 1, part 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941. Pages 401–09.
Gombosi, O. Jacob Obrecht. Leipzig, 1925.


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Some essays take up repertory by "the usual suspects," including Antoine Busnois, Jacob Obrecht, and Jean Mouton.
The program will draw from the Odhecaton, an anthology of secular songs published in Venice in 1501 by Ottaviano Petrucci, with polyphonic music by Franco-Flemish composers such as Josquin Des Prez, Hayne Van Ghizighem and Jacob Obrecht.
The programme for Tuesday's concert, called A Liturgy of Shadows, goes back even earlier, to the 15th century, with authentic chants and anthems by Johannes de Quadris, Jean Ockeghem, Josquin des Prez, Jacob Obrecht and Pierre de la Rue.
The tendency to single out all-surpassing masters who soar above their commonplace contemporaries has not benefitted the composer Jacob Obrecht, who had the mixed luck of sharing at least part of a lifetime with the celebrated Josquin des Prez.
1445/46-1506), Antoine Brumel, Jacob Obrecht (1457/58-1505; his widely disseminated Parce Domine), and Johannes Regis (ca.
As a pupil of Josquin Desprez and a prominent exponent of the dense and virtuosic style of choral writing associated with the Flemish school, Antoine Brumel is regularly included with such lowland masters as Jacob Obrecht, Jean Mouton, and Alexander Agricola.
Working in collaboration with the Dominican friar Petrus Castellanus, who acted as editor and compiler, Petrucci produced a volume entitled Harmonice Musices Odhecaton A, which contained ninety-six polyphonic works (mostly chansons) by a variety of popular composers, including Alexander Agricola, Antoine Busnoys, and Jacob Obrecht.
In her introduction to the volume, she describes Busnoys as a composer whose reputation has been somewhat overshadowed by his more valorized contemporaries Johannes Ockeghem, Jacob Obrecht, Josquin Desprez, anti Heinrich Isaac.
Similarly the name of Jacob Obrecht adds up to ninety-seven, the number of notes in the final section of Josquin's "Absolve, quaesumus," thereby adding to various bits of musical evidence that the motet was written in memory of Obrecht.
He was quickly followed by the Augsburg printer Erhard Oeglin, who issued polyphonic settings of Horace's odes, and by the Basel printer Georg Mewes, who published four Masses by Jacob Obrecht.
Guillaume Du Fay had ties with Florence during much of his professional career; later composers like Jacob Obrecht and Loyset Compere apparently encountered the lauda as well, as Jennifer Bloxam has recently shown (" 'La Contenance Italienne': The Motets on Beata es Maria by Compere, Obrecht and Brumel," Early Music History 11 [1992]: 39--89).