[[image:obrecht.jpg]]
''Jacob Obrecht''
'''Jacob Obrecht''' ([[November 22]], [[1458]] – late July, [[1505]]) was a [[Dutch School (music)|Dutch]] composer of the [[Renaissance music|Renaissance]]. He was the most famous composer of [[mass (music)|mass]]es in Europe in the late [[15th century]], only being eclipsed by [[Josquin Desprez]] after his death, and in addition wrote many [[motet]]s and songs. ==Life== He was born in either [[1457]] or [[1458]], the only son of [[Ghent]] city trumpeter Willem Obrecht and Lijsbette Gheeraerts. His mother died in 1460 at the age of 20. His portrait, painted in 1496, gives his age as 38, establishing his birthdate. Details of his early education are sparse, but he likely learned to play the [[trumpet]], like his father, and in so doing learned the art of [[counterpoint]] and improvisation over a [[cantus firmus]]. Most likely he knew [[Antoine Busnois]] at the Burgundian court; at any rate he certainly knew his music, since his earliest mass shows close stylistic parallels with the elder composer. Obrecht seems to have had a succession of short appointments, many of which ended in less than ideal circumstances. At least twice he was in trouble for financial irregularities, more likely from careless bookkeeping than anything else, and there is one interesting record of his covering a shortfall in his accounts by a donation of his compositions to his employer. Throughout the period, though as an employee he may have been undesirable, he was held in the highest respect both by his patrons and by the composers who were his peers. [[Johannes Tinctoris|Tinctoris]], who was writing in [[Naples]], singles him out in a short list of the master composers of the day—all the more significant because he was only 25 at the time Tinctoris made his list, and on the other side of Europe. While most of Obrecht's appointments were in [[Flanders]] in the Netherlands, he made at least two trips to Italy, once in [[1487]] at the invitation of [[Duke Ercole I d'Este]] of Ferrara, and again in [[1505]]. Duke Ercole had heard Obrecht's music, which is known to have circulated in Italy between [[1484]] and [[1487]], and said that he appreciated it above the music of all other contemporary composers; consequently he invited Obrecht to Ferrara for six months in 1487. In [[1504]] Obrecht once again went to Ferrara, but on the death of the Duke at the beginning of the next year he became unemployed. In what capacity he stayed in Ferrara is unknown, but he died in the outbreak of plague there just before August 1, 1505. ==Works== Obrecht wrote mainly sacred music: [[mass (music)|masses]] and [[motet|motets]], though a few secular [[chanson|chansons]] have survived. Stylistically, Obrecht is a fascinating example of the [[counterpoint|contrapuntal]] extravagance of the late [[15th century]]. He usually uses a [[cantus firmus]] technique for his masses, but uses a staggering variety of constructive devices in transforming simple source material into multi-movement mass compositions. Sometimes he takes his source material and divides it up into short phrases; sometimes he uses [[counterpoint|retrograded]] versions of complete melodies, or melodic fragments; in one case he even extracts the component notes and orders them by note value, long to short, constructing new melodic material from the reordered sequences of notes. He prefers episodic structures,where each section of a work uses different [[motif (music)|motivic]] material: clearly to Obrecht there could not be too much variety. His procedures show a startling contrast to the work of the next generation, for example [[Josquin des Prez|Josquin]], who favored unity and simplicity of approach. As a masterful handling of the cantus firmus technique, one only has to look at Obrecht's ''Missa Sub presidium tuum'', which incorporates altogether six different Marian chants: ''Sub presidium tuum'' (Antiphon, Soprano, all movements), ''Ave preclara maris stella'' (Sequence verse 7, Soprano II, Credo), ''Aurea virga prime matris Eve'' (Sequence verse 9b, Soprano II and Tenor II, Sanctus), ''Aurea virga prime matrix Eve'' (Sequence verse 3b, Soprano II and Tenor I, Agnus Dei I & II), ''Regina caeli'' (Antiphon, Soprano II and Tenor I, Agnus Dei III), and ''Verbum bonum et suave'' (Sequence verse 3b, Alto I, Agnus Dei). In addition, the number of voice parts increases from three in the Kyrie, to four in the Gloria, and so on, until there are seven voice parts in the Agnus Dei. The title chant is clearly heard in the top voice throughout the work. For his source material he clearly preferred the popular chansons of the day. While it may seem strange to a modern listener that a composer would build a sacred composition upone fragments of secular, even profane popular songs, this procedure was neither considered improper nor even particularly irreverent at the time (for example, there is a mass by [[Jean Mouton|Mouton]]—''Missa faulte d'argent'' ["lack of money"]—based on Josquin's chanson of the same name in which a man wakes up in bed with a prostitute, realizing painfully that he does not have enough money to pay her). Though he was renowned in his time, Obrecht had little influence on subsequent generations: most likely he simply went out of fashion. The superabundant inventiveness seen in his works is an interesting analogue to the contemporary style of painting, shown most famously by [[Hieronymus Bosch]] (also born in [[1450]]). ==External links== * {{IckingArchive|idx=Obrecht|name=Jacob Obrecht}} ==Sources and further reading== * Article "Jacob Obrecht," in ''The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians'', ed. Stanley Sadie. 20 vol. London, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., 1980. ISBN 1561591742 * [[Gustave Reese]], ''Music in the Renaissance''. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0393095304 * ''The Concise Edition of Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians'', 8th ed. Revised by Nicolas Slonimsky. New York, Schirmer Books, 1993. ISBN 002872416X * [[Rob C. Wegman]], ''Born for the Muses: The Life and Masses of Jacob Obrecht''. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1994. ISBN 0-19-816382-7 ==Recording== * ''Flemish Masters'', Virginia Arts Recordings, VA-04413, performed by [http://zephyrus-va.org/ Zephyrus]. Includes the Obrecht ''Missa Sub tuum presidium'', as well as motets by Willaert, Clemens non Papa, Ockeghem, Des Prez, Mouton, and Gombert. [[Category:1457 births|Obrecht, Jacob]] [[Category:1458 births|Obrecht, Jacob]] [[Category:1505 deaths|Obrecht, Jacob]] [[Category:Dutch musicians|Obrecht, Jacob]] [[Category:Renaissance composers|Obrecht, Jacob]] [[Category:Franco-Flemish composers|Obrecht, Jacob]] [[da:Jacob Obrecht]] [[de:Jacob Obrecht]] [[eo:Jacob Obrecht]] [[fr:Jacob Obrecht]] [[nl:Jacob Obrecht]] [[ja:ヤーコプ・オブレヒト]] [[pl:Jacob Obrecht]] [[fi:Jacob Obrecht]]