Born: 1410

Died: 1497

Johannes Ockeghem

A biography

The earliest reference to Ockeghem as a singer shows that he was a vicaire-chanteur at Notre Dame, Antwerp, for a year from June 24, 1443. His déploration on Binchois’s death (1460) suggests a connection with the Burgundian ducal chapel where Busnois and Dufay worked. He entered the service of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon, in Moulins in the mid-1440s and was a member of the chapel in 1446-48. In the year ending September 30, 1453, he is cited in the French court archives ‘nouveau en 1451’.

This service continued during Louis XI’s reign, though he held other offices, including a canonry at Notre Dame, Paris (1463-70). In 1470 he visited Spain, in 1484 Bruges and Dammes. After Louis’s death he remained premier chapelain and was still on the payroll in 1488. He enjoyed an enviable personal and professional reputation. His most imposing works are his Mass settings. Several are based on pre-existing material, sacred or secular. The level of contrapuntal skill and artistic excellence of his music laid a foundation for the achievements of Josquin’s generation.

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