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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: July 2015

15 - Poetic humanism and music in the fifteenth century

from Part III - Humanism


To study Josquin des Prez is to stand at the edge of an epistemological precipice. One of the greatest impediments to accessing the historical Josquin is the extraordinary reception he enjoyed after his death. The early decades of the sixteenth century witnessed an explosion in the circulation of Josquin's music, and a concomitant increase in references to Josquin's stature. More than a quarter-century ago, Joshua Rifkin challenged scholars to consider works by Josquin guilty until proven innocent. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century music historians were forced to rely heavily on Glareanus and late printed sources, their accounts are littered with dubious claims about Josquin's personality and oriented toward works of questionable attribution. The biographical details can serve as a starting point, as can the most fundamental sorts of information about the institutions in which Josquin worked, the musicians with whom he associated, and the broader social, cultural, and political developments of his age.


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