It might seem a little morbid to say that death can be an inspiration, but for the late-medieval and Renaissance composers who wrote déploration, it was the impetus to set to music poems written lamenting the deaths of significant composers; most of which were focused on Ockeghem and Josquin.
The earliest known déploration also happens to be the only surviving composition by the composer Fransiscus Andrieu, who set to music a ballade that marked the death of Guillaume de Machaut. The poem itself, a double ballade entitled “Armes, Amours” was written by Eustache Deschamps.
Josquin’s death was the inspiration for Nicolas Gombert’s own composition entitled Musae Jovis, based on the cantus firmus “Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis,” “The sighs of death surround me.”
Gombert’s déploration is one of three written in memory of Josquin. The other two composers who created their own works were Jheronimus Vinders and Benedictus Appenzeller.
Earlier we traced a line of laments that connected Ockeghem with Gombert, but there is a further connection to be made if we look at Ockeghem himself, who composed a déploration after the death of Gilles Binchois. Ockeghem’s work not only praises Binchois but paints a biographical picture of his life. The first line opens the lament in an elegant and touching manner:
“Death, you have wounded with your dart the Father of joyousness…”
Similar works to the déploration were being composed in other parts of Europe, including England and Italy. When Thomas Tallis passed away, William Byrd wrote a piece entitled Ye sacred Muses for voice and viola da gamba consort. Also, Andrea Gabrieli marked the passing of Adrian Willaert in his “Sassi palae, Sabbion, del Adrian lio.” Both respond to dedicatee’s death in ways that clearly reflect the aesthetic and culture of each composer.
Our new release this week is titled “Crazy.” The performance marks the debut release of the Canadian ensemble I Furiosi on the Dorian label.
Here’s a video of I Furiosi performing Andrea Falconiero’s “Folias”: