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The Transmission of Some Josquin Motets

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020

Anthony M. Cummings*
Villa I Tatti, Florence


In classifying primary musical documents from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, we are dependent upon a variety of techniques of music-historical research – analysis of watermarks, repertory, concordances, the cultural and historical contexts – which furnish the means for evaluating the authority of the sources, ‘the degree of presumptive similarity to the lost … autograph’. One of the principal points in attempting to establish the credentials of the primary sources for the Josquin motets is that they contain alternative readings that condition our perception of the pieces. The choice of readings will inevitably depend on our ability to identify those sources that preserve more authoritative redactions for a given work. A number of techniques are ordinarily used for assessing these sources: (1) that a source is taken prima facie as representing the best tradition that we can discern is an assumption based on its time and place of origin; (2) details of filiation as documented in the variants themselves can suggest lines of transmission and the relative plausibility of sets of readings; and (3) some sources may assume greater importance because they preserve redactions that conform to convictions about Josquin's style. While each of these techniques has something to recommend it, the last assumes considerably more refined criteria than we now possess for describing Josquin's compositional practices, and a considerably broader and deeper knowledge of his whole oeuvre than most of us possess. For, as has been pointed out, ‘the textual critic must often choose, on the basis of his knowledge of such things as the style of the author or the scribal practices of the period, those variants upon which he wishes to base his stemma. Classical philologists have centuries of experience and a multitude of examples to draw upon when confronted with choices between anomalous readings; music historians have no such storehouse of knowledge.‘ Since many of the variant readings in question are equally plausible, very often the choices are not between versions that are manifestly erroneous, on the one hand, and those that are not, on the other, but between equally acceptable versions, each of which is musically permissible. The first two of the techniques referred to above afford a more systematic and objective means at this time for ranking the primary source material, and a basis on which to advance tentative hypotheses of plausible content that suggest ways of determining what an authoritative version of a piece would look like.

Research Article
Copyright © 1990 Royal Musical Association

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Different versions of sections of this paper were read at meetings of the Greater New York Chapter of the American Musicological Society on 7 April 1979 and 17 February 1983. I am grateful to Dr Peter Urquhart for reading a draft and suggesting a number of improvements. For a key to the manuscript and print sigla used in this article, see Appendix.Google Scholar

1 Arthur Mendel, remarks in ‘Symposium: Editing the Music of Josquin des Prez, Problems in Editing the Music of Josquin des Prez: A Critique of the First Edition and Proposals for the Second Edition’, Josquin des Prez: Proceedings of the International Josquin Festival-Conference held at the Juilliard School at Lincoln Center in New York City, 21–25 June, 1971, Sponsored by the American Musicological Society in Cooperation with the International Musicological Society and the Renaissance Society of America, ed. Edward E. Lowinsky in collaboration with Bonnie J. Blackburn (London, 1976), 726.Google Scholar

2 Hall, Thomas, ‘Some Computer Aids for the Preparation of Critical Editions of Renaissance Music’, Tijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziehgeschiedenis, 25 (1975), 42.Google Scholar

3 Leighton D. Reynolds and Nigel G. Wilson, Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature (London, 1968), 137.Google Scholar

6 Maas, Paul, Textual Criticism (Oxford, 1958), 2.Google Scholar

7 Reynolds, and Wilson, , Scribes and Scholars, 137.Google Scholar

8 Atlas, Allan, The Cappella Giulia Chansonnier (Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, C. G. XIII. 27), 2 vols., Musicological Studies, 27 (New York, 1975).Google Scholar

9 Ibid., i, 47. The term ‘lectional’ was suggested by Arthur Mendel.Google Scholar

10 Ibid., i, 46–7.Google Scholar

11 Boorman, Stanley, ‘The “First” Edition of the Odhecaton A’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 30 (1977), 202. See also a series of extremely important recent contributions by Boorman to the question of the applicability of stemmatic techniques to problems of transmission of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century music and related matters: ‘Petrucci's Type-Setters and the Process of Stemmatics’, Formen und Probleme der Überlieferung mehrstimmiger Musik im Zeitalter Josquins Desprez, ed. Ludwig Finscher, Wolfenbütteler Forschungen, 6 (Munich, 1981), 245–80; ‘Petrucci at Fossombrone: Some New Editions and Cancels’, Source Materials and the Interpretation of Music: A Memorial Volume to Thurston Dart, ed. Ian Bent (London, 1981), 129–53; ‘Limitations and Extensions of Filiation Technique’, Music in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Iain Fenlon (Cambridge, 1981), 319–46; ‘Some Non-Conflicting Attributions, and Some Newly Anonymous Compositions, from the Early Sixteenth Century’, Early Music History, 6 (1986), 109–57. Clearly, the idiosyncrasies of a particular scribe do not in themselves tell us anything about his model. For this reason, they are insignificant to the part of his stemma that concerns earlier sources, but of course can be significant as regards later ones.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

12 Atlas, The Cappella Giulia Chansonnier, i, 47.Google Scholar

13 Crocker, Richard, The Early Medieval Sequence (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1977), 8.Google Scholar

14 The earliest sources appear to be MunBS 3154 and BerlS 40021, from 1476 and 1485–1488/90; the manuscripts are both German. The earliest Vatican manuscript, VatS 42, contains the motet in a layer datable 1507–12. The Milanese manuscript MilD 2266 dates from 1527, half a century after Josquin's tenure; on these sources, see (on BerlS 40021) Martin Just, Der Mensuralkodex Mus. Ms. 40021 der Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz Berlin: Untersuchungen zum Repertoire einer deutschen Quelle des 15. Jahrhunderts, 2 vols. (Tutzing, 1975), i, 13, 45; ii, 20; (on MunBS 3154) Thomas Noblitt, ‘Die Datierung der Handschrift Mus. Ms. 3154 der Staatsbibliothek München’, Die Musikforschung, 27 (1974), 35–6, and ‘Das Chorbuch des Nikolaus Leopold (München, Staatsbibliothek, Mus. Ms. 3154): Repertorium’, Archiv für Musihwissenschaft, 26(1969), 169–208; (on VatS 42) Richard Sherr, ‘The Papal Chapel ca. 1492–1513 and its Polyphonic Sources’ (Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1975), 227–33, and ‘Notes on Two Roman Manuscripts of the Early Sixteenth Century’, The Musical Quarterly, 63 (1977), 61–4; (on MilD 2266) Claudio Sartori, ‘Il quarto codice di Gaffurio non e del tutto scomparso’, Collectanea historiae musicae, 1, Biblioteca historiae musicae cultores, 2 (1953), 25–44, and Liber capelle ecclesie maioris: Quarto codice di Gaffurio, ed. Angelo Ciceri and Luciano Migliavacca, Archivium musices metropolitanum mediolanense, 16 (Milan, n.d.).Google Scholar

15 The diffusion is illustrated in Appendix B of my dissertation, ‘A Florentine Sacred Repertory from the Medici Restoration (Manuscript II. I. 232 (olim Magl. XIX. 58; Gaddi 1113) of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Firenze)' (Ph.D. dissertation, Princeton University, 1980). The argument that a source's authority may derive from its relevance to the details of a composer's biography is indebted to Lewis Lockwood's article ‘A Sample Problem of Musica Ficta: Willaert's Pater Noster’, Studies in Music History: Essays for Oliver Strunk, ed. Harold Powers (Princeton, 1968), 162–82.Google Scholar

16 See Lowinsky, Edward, ‘Ascanio Sforza's Life: A Key to Josquin's Biography and an Aid to the Chronology of his Works’, Josquin des Prez: Proceedings, 31–75; Claudio Sartori, Josquin des Pres cantore del duomo di Milano', Annales musicologiques, 4 (1956), 5583; Motta, Emilio, ‘Musica alla corte degli Sforza’, Archivio storico Lombardo, 2nd series, 4 (1887), 29–64, 278–340, 514–61; Barblan, Guglielmo, ‘Vita musicale alla corte sforzesca’, Storia di Milano, 9 (1969), 787–852. On his northern sojourns during this period, see Gustave Reese and Jeremy Noble, ‘Josquin Desprez’, The New Grove High Renaissance Masters (New York 1984), 6.Google Scholar

17 See Lowinsky, , ‘Ascanio Sforza's Life’; Pirrotta's remarks are in his luminous article ‘Music and Cultural Tendencies in 15th-Century Italy’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 19 (1966), 127–61; Lockwood's are in ‘Music at Ferrara in the Period of Ercole I d'Este’, Studi musicali, 1 (1972), 101–31; ‘Josquin at Ferrara; New Documents and Letters’, Josquin des Prez: Proceedings, 103–37. On the reference from Condé, see Reese and Noble, ‘Josquin’, 6.Google Scholar

18 See, most recently, Jeremy Noble, ‘New Light on Josquin's Benefices’, Josquin des Prez: Proceedings, 76–102, where reference is made to previous studies of Josquin's papal service, and Sherr, ‘The Papal Chapel’, 65–7, and ‘Notes on Some Papal Documents in Paris’, Studi musicali, 12 (1983), 89.Google Scholar

19 See the two papers by Lockwood cited in note 17 and the documents there concerning Josquin's French connections; also Helmuth Osthoff, Josquin Desprez, 2 vols. (Tutzing, 1962), i, 45, 51, 53 and 211–12, and Clytus Gottwald, Johannes Ghiselin-Johannes Verbonnet (Wiesbaden, 1962), 1415, for the texts of the documents that suggest Josquin's presence at the French court and elsewhere in France.Google Scholar

20 See Osthoff, , Josquin Desprez, i, 51.Google Scholar

21 Kellman, Herbert, ‘Josquin and the Courts of the Netherlands and France: The Evidence of the Sources’, Josquin des Prez: Proceedings, 182216.Google Scholar

22 On the dating and provenance of the manuscript in question, see Jeppesen, Knud, ‘Die 3 Gafurius-Kodizes des Fabbrica del Duomo, Milano’, Acta musicologica, 3 (1931), 1428. In the discussion that follows, I include only those motets considered as authentic by Jeremy Noble in The New Grove High Renaissance Masters, 66–72; also excluded are contrafacta or other arrangements, separate listings for sections of multipartite works after the First section, and the Magnificats.Google Scholar

23 See Lockwood, Lewis, Music in Renaissance Ferrara, 1400–1505 (Cambridge, Mass., 1984), 216–17, 224–6, 269–72. The works in RomeBC 2856 are, however, arranged for instrumental performance, which affects the character (and quality) of their readings.Google Scholar

24 See Sherr, , ‘The Papal Chapel’, 207, 211–12 (on VatS 15), 224 (on VatS 41) and 254 (on VatS 63), and ‘Notes on Two Roman Manuscripts’, Table II (on VatS 42); Reynolds, Christopher, ‘The Origins of San Pietro B 80 and the Development of a Roman Sacred Repertory’, Early Music History, I (1981), 257–304 (on S. Pietro B 80); and (on VatS 35) Smijers's critical notes to his edition of the motet Domine, non secundum peccata in Werken van Josquin des Pres, 12 vols. (Amsterdam, 1926–69), Motetten, i/4.Google Scholar

25 Louise Litterick's dissertation, ‘The Manuscript Royal 20. A. XVI of the British Library’ (Ph.D. dissertation, New York University, 1976), furnishes complete information on the date and provenance of LonBLR 20. A.xvi and the most current information on CambriP 1760. In a number of publications, Edward Lowinsky suggested English provenance for the manuscript LonRC 1070: see ‘Ms 1070 of the Royal College of Music in London’, Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, 96 (1969–70), 128; ‘A Music Book for Anne Boleyn’, Florilegium historiale: Essays Presented to Wallace K. Ferguson, ed. John G. Rowe and William H. Stockdale (Toronto and Buffalo. 1971). 160–235; The Medici Codex of 1518: A Choirbook of Motets Dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici, Duke of Urbino, 3 vols., Monuments of Renaissance Music, 3–5 (Chicago, 1968), i, 115–16. While his thesis is not implausible, a number of features point to French origin. The paper and script are French (on the watermarks, see Lowinsky, ‘A Music Book for Anne Boleyn’, 166–7). Moreover, the manuscript contains an exclusively Franco-Netherlandish repertory from the end of Louis XII's reign, preserving motets and chansons of Josquin, Mouton, Brumel, Therache, Fevin, Compère, Obrecht and Claudin de Sermisy. Apart from British Library Additional MS 31922, ‘King Henry VIII's Manuscript’, which accurately reflects English taste, few indisputably English sources until the Dunkeld partbooks from Scotland in the 1540s contain music by continental composers; and a manuscript as late as the Peterhouse partbooks (c. 1540–7) manifests a continuing commitment to insular traditions, almost to the exclusion of continental ones. See Lockwood, Lewis, ‘A Continental Mass and Motet in a Tudor Manuscript’, Music and Letters, 42 (1961), 336–47, and, on Additional MS 31922, Music at the Court of Henry VIII, ed. John Stevens, Musica Britannica, 18 (London, 1962). Fevin's setting of the political motet text ‘Adiutorium nostrum’ suggests a tentative dating before 1514 for the manuscript. See also James Braithewaite, ‘The Introduction of Franco-Netherlandish Manuscripts to Early Tudor England; The Motet Repertory’ (Ph.D. dissertation, Boston University, 1967), 40–50. On BrusBR 9126, see Kellman, ‘Josquin and the Courts of the Netherlands and France’, 196.Google Scholar

26 On LonBL 19583/ModE F. 2. 29/ParisBNN 4599, see Rifkin, Joshua, ‘New Light on Music Manuscripts at the Court of Ferrara in the Reigns of Alfonso I and Hercules II’, unpublished paper read at The New England Renaissance Conference, Durham, New Hampshire, 26 October 1974; Lowinsky, The Medici Codex, i, 117–18; and Lawrence Bernstein, ’ “La courone et fleur des chansons a troys”: A Mirror of the French Chanson in Italy in the Years Between Ottaviano Petrucci and Antonio Gardano’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 31 (1973), 168, in particular pp. 19–20; on the Ferrarese associations of Miserere mei, deus, which the manuscript contains, see Lockwood, Music in Renaissance Ferrara, 206–7, 261. On BolC Q20, see Johannes Lheritier: Opera omnia, ed. Leeman Perkins, Corpus mensurabilis musicae, 48 (n.p., 1969), p. xl. On ModD 4 (dated in the 1520s) and 9 (dated 1518–31), see Crawford, David, ‘Vespers Polyphony at Modena's Cathedral in the First Half of the Sixteenth Century’ (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois, 1967), 71–123, esp. pp. 73, 92 and 109. On Modena's connections with the Estensi, see Lockwood, ‘Jean Mouton and Jean Michel: New Evidence on French Music and Musicians in Italy, 1505–1520’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 32 (1979), 191–246, esp. p. 205, n. 35 and p. 237, n. 110.Google Scholar

27 On BolC R142, see, most recently, Bonnie J. Blackburn, ‘Josquin's Chansons: Ignored and Lost Sources’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 29 (1976), 50–2, and the literature cited there; on BrusBR 9126, see Kellman, ‘Josquin and the Courts of the Netherlands and France’, 196, and, for an inventory, Charles van den Borren, ‘Inventaire des manuscrits de musique qui se trouvent en Belgique’, Acta musicologica, 5 (1935), 69–70; on BudOS P6, see Gombosi, Otto, ‘Die Musikalien der Pfarrkirche zu St. Aegidi in Bartfa’, Festschrift für Johannes Wolf (Berlin, 1929), 38–47, and Gombosi, ‘Quellen aus dem 16.-17. Jahrhundert zur Geschichte der Musikpflege in Bartfeld (Bartfa) und Oberungarn’, Ungarische Jahrbücher, 12 (1932), 331–40; on CopKB 1872, see Foss, Julius, ‘Det kgl. Cantoris Stemmeboeger A. D. 1541’, Aarbog for Musik 1923, 2 (1924), 24–40; on FlorBN 232, see my dissertation, ‘A Florentine Sacred Repertory from the Medici Restoration’; on LeidSM 1440, see Jan P. N. Land, ‘De Koorboeken van de St. Pieterskerk te Leiden’, Bouwsteenen, Derde Jaarboek der Vereeniging voor Noord-Nederlands Musiekgeschiedenis (1874–81), 37–48; on LonRC 1070, see note 25; on RegB 893, see Norbert Böker-Heil, Die Motetten von Philippe Verdelot, 252; on SGallS 463 and 464, see Loach, Donald, ‘Aegidius Tschudi's Songbook (St. Gall MS 463): A Humanistic Document from the Circle of Heinrich Glarean’ (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1969); on VatS 45, Professor Joshua Rifkin informs me that the manuscript originated in Rome during the papacies of Leo X and Clement VII (Huc me sydereo / Plangent eum is contained in a layer of the manuscript dated 1513–15 by Rifkin).Google Scholar

28 See Werken, Motetten, ii.Google Scholar

29 Crocker, Richard, ‘Some Ninth-Century Sequences’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 20 (1967), 367402. The Josquin Project at Princeton University prepared recension material in the 1970s on eight of the motets. My discussion here of the Josquin works incorporates complete documentation on the recension of these four motets. For a number of reasons, I have felt it necessary to include all the melodic-rhythmic variants cited that are found in the sources, even though this compels a considerably expanded format. As has been pointed out, the characterization of variants as significant or insignificant is open to question (see Richard Sherr's review of Atlas, The Cappella Giulia Chansonnier, in Joumal of the American Musicological Society, 31 (1978), 510–16); a complete collation of variants affords the reader the option of choosing between them and developing his own theories of permissible content. More to the point, as Richard Crocker remarked in another connection, ‘[we] have not lived with any readings of particular [pieces] long enough to have developed convictions about which are good and which are not; lacking even bad or tentative editions …, we lack the basis for a stylistically informed approach’ (The Early Medieval Sequence, 8). Although for the Josquin motets Crocker's remarks are not fully applicable, it is true that many of these works exist in a single modern edition that reflects Smijers's assessment of the value of the source on which he chose to base the text. Our perceptions of these pieces have been shaped accordingly by a single redaction, in the absence of alternative editions or exhaustive collations of readings. For these reasons, one ought to make available the accumulated evidence on which the evaluation of the sources and the readings they contain is based.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

30 Because these first four motets in the cycle of five (which also includes Ecce Maria genuit) suggest identical lines of transmission, it appears that the cycle was transmitted as such and that details of filiation indicated by the four are applicable to all five pieces.Google Scholar

31 See Chapman's article ‘Printed Collections of Polyphonic Music Owned by Ferdinand Columbus’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 21 (1968), 3484, and her doctoral dissertation, ‘Andrea Antico’ (Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1964), 62ff., on 1521/3. FlorBN 232 is discussed in my dissertation, ‘A Florentine Sacred Repertory from the Medici Restoration’; my observations on VatS 46 are based exclusively on information generously provided by Professor Joshua Rifkin; on FlorL 666, see, most recently, Rifkin, ‘Scribal Concordances for some Renaissance Manuscripts in Florentine Libraries’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 26 (1973), 306–9, esp. p. 309; Crawford, David, ‘A Review of Costanzo Festa's Biography’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 28 (1975), 102–11; Ludwig Finscher's review in Die Musikforschung, 30 (1977), 468–81; Lewis Lockwood's article ‘Jean Mouton and Jean Michel’, 241–6; Leeman Perkins's review in The Musical Quarterly, 55 (1969), 255–69; Johannes Lheritier: Opera omnia, pp. xli–xlii; and Martin Staehelin's review in Journal of the American Musicology Society, 33 (1980), 575–87. For an interpretation of the manuscript's origins that argues for French provenance, see Lowinsky, The Medici Codex of 1518; ‘The Medici Codex, a Document of Music, Art and Politics in the Renaissance’, Annales musicologiques, 5 (1957), 61–178; and ‘On the Presentation and Interpretation of Evidence: Another Review of Costanzo Festa's Biography’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 30 (1977), 106–28.Google Scholar

32 Atlas, The Cappella Giulia Chansonnier, i, 45.Google Scholar

33 Maas, Textual Criticism, 46.Google Scholar

34 The ‘text’ of O admirabile commercium in 1521/3 discussed here is the one preserved in the copy of the print in the Pierpont Morgan Library; I have not seen films of the copies in London, Munich, Seville and Vienna that Chapman cites in her dissertation, p. 424, which may contain different versions of the portion of the musical ‘text’ discussed here.Google Scholar

35 On French music in Medici circles, see my article ‘Medici Musical Patronage in the Early Sixteenth Century: New Perspectives’, Studi musicali, 10 (1981), 197216, esp. p. 201, n. 15 and pp. 209–14. The correspondence of Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena, Leo X's legate in France at the court of Francis I, occasionally contains references of music-historical significance; see Epistolario de Bernardo Dovizi da Bibbiena, ed. G. L. Moncallero, 2 vols., Biblioteca dell' ‘Archivum Romanicum’, serie I: Storia – Letteratura – Paleografia, 44 and 81 (1955–65), ii, 121–30, 186–96, 213–15. On 18 July 1518, Dovizi wrote to Cardinal Giulio de' Medici and Duke Lorenzo II de' Medici: ‘Madama ha preso l'assunto di trovare et di mandare a Nostro Signore i tre putti musici, secondo la nota di Carpentrasse’ (see p. 127). On 4 September of the same year, Giulio wrote to Dovizi concerning the ‘putti’: ‘N. S. desidera che V. S. Reverendissima facci opera col Maestro di Capella del Cristianissimo di havere tre putti cantori, de le età et voce che la vedrà per un memoriale che sarà in questa che mi ha dato Carpentrasse. Et quando bisognasse parlarne a Sua Maestà, fate l'offitio come et quando meglio vi parerà, pure in nome di sua Beatitudine’; see pp. 129–30 and Cesare Guasti, ‘I manoscritti Torrigiani donati al R. Archivio Centrale di Stato’, Archivio storico italiano, ser. 3, vols. 19–21 and 23–6 (1874–7), in particular vol. 24 (1876), p. 10. Given Dovizi's presence in France and the evidence of French-Medici relations summarized in my article ‘Medici Musical Patronage’, one can reasonably speculate that French music was readily available to Medici clients.Google Scholar

36 This issue is addressed by Lockwood in ‘A Sample Problem of Musica Ficta‘, 163–4, 175.Google Scholar

37 The terminology is Nino Pirrotta's; see ‘Zacara da Teramo’, Music and Culture in Italy from the Middle Ages to the Baroque (Cambridge, Mass., 1984), p. 396, n. 11.Google Scholar

38 See Lockwood, Lewis, ‘A Dispute on Accidentals in Sixteenth-Century Rome’, Studien zur italienisch-deutschen Musikgeschichte, II, Analecta musicologica, 2 (1965), 2440.Google Scholar

39 The Medici Codex, i, 132–3.Google Scholar

40 Ibid., 131.Google Scholar

41 See Haar's article in Journal of the American Musicological Society, 30 (1977).Google Scholar

42 Berger, Musica Ficta (Cambridge, 1987); the chapter on vertical intervals considers false relations.Google Scholar

43 Bent, Margaret, ‘Musica Recta and Musica Ficta’, Musica disciplina, 26 (1972), 73100, esp. 98–100; Hoppin, Richard, ‘Conflicting Signatures Reviewed’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 9 (1956), 97–117, esp. p. 106 and n. 42 and p. 108; Bent and Lockwood, ‘Musica Ficta’, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London, 1980), xii, 802–11, esp. pp. 805–6.Google Scholar

44 The Medici Codex, i, 132.Google Scholar