Saturday 13 November 2010

November - Month of the Holy Souls (2)

The Low Countries, a middle Europe that extended to Burgndy - and that would emerge again as the powerhouse of a modern united Europe - had held onto, or retrieved, the great inheritance of Charlemagne at the forefront of Western Christian Civilization during the High Middle Ages. The Devotio Moderna is but one example of the debt that the Christian West owes to the Low Countries of this period.

The purity of Plain Chant gave way to the more elaborate beauty of Polyphony, in much the same way as the purity of Romanesque gave way to the more elaborate beauty of the Gothic. So too, as the Low Countries led the way in culture, in fashion, in architecture, and in piety, did they also in music and the Franco-Flemish School was to the fore in European music of the 15th and 16th Centuries.

Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1410-1497) was the leader of the second generation of the Franco-Flemish school, born in modern-day Belgium, he died at Tours, in the heart of Valois France. His Requiem, one of 14 Masses that he composed, is the earliest extant polyphonic setting of the Requiem. It is, however, extremely austere and is in a 'faux bourdon' style with a predominating bass line. The setting is incomplete in the form that comes down to us, and lacks the and Sanctus and Agnus Dei. Once again, for contrast, I only include the Introit and Kyrie.

1 comment:

Ritualist said...

Very intersting and thoughtful post.