They called him princeps musicorum, prince of musicians, and 500 years ago tomorrow, on August 27, 1521, he passed away in Condé-sur-l’Escaut, nowadays Northern France, where the last seventeen years of his life he was provost of the collegiate of Notre Dame, destroyed in 1793 during “the frightening revolution unleashed in France” (Pius X, Duplicem Nostis, September 14, 1904): Josquin Després, or simply Josquin.
The French-Flemish composer was born around 1450 in the northeastern French province of Picardy, and would have a great influence on European polyphonic music. Giuseppe Baini (1775- 1844), bass and then director of the pontifical choir, but above all the first biographer of Palestrina, speaks thus of Josquin:
In a short time, by his new productions, he becomes the idol of Europe. There is no longer tolerance for any but Josquin. Nothing is beautiful unless it be the work of Josquin. Josquin alone is sung in every chapel in Christendom. Nobody but Josquin in Italy, nobody but Josquin in France, nobody but Josquin in Germany, in Flanders, in Hungary, in Spain—Josquin and Josquin alone (G. Baini, Memorie storico-critiche della vita e delle opere di […] Palestrina, Vol. 2, Rome 1828, p. 407).