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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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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