Jacob Obrecht

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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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. Admission is by $10 donation.
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.
Wegman, Born for the Muses: the life and Masses of Jacob Obrecht (Oxford, 1994), p.322.
Jacob Obrecht has found eloquent advocacy for his music in this impressive study of his life and Masses.
1 (Spring 2011): Jacob Obrecht. The second of two special issues, this one is edited by Fabrice Fitch.
In this chapter Elders discusses gematria, or the use of numbers achieved by alphabet substitution (A = 1, B = 2 etc.), whereby Ockeghem is 64 and Jacob Obrecht is 97, these numbers being used symbolically in their laments and therefore (one hopes) establishing beyond any doubt the correct spelling of their names, for `Okeghem' and `Hobrecht' would not work.
Other prominent composers of the late fifteenth century are represented by one motet each: Alexander Agricola (?1445/46-1506), Antoine Brumel, Jacob Obrecht (1457/58-1505; his widely disseminated Parce Domine), and Johannes Regis (ca.
In this bold and engaging book, adorned with a portrait of the composer, Rob Wegman has created what appears to be a solid and reliable 'life and works' for Jacob Obrecht, the sort of book that was common some 30 years ago.
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.
May the day soon come when La Rue's Masses receive close critical and historical scrutiny equivalent to the sensitive treatment Jacob Obrecht has recently enjoyed.