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Clemens non Papa

Lucie Skeaping explores the life and music of the intriguingly named Jacobus Clemens non Papa - one of the most successful Flemish composers of the 16th century.

Lucie Skeaping explores the music of the 16th century Flemish composer Jacobus Clemens non Papa. In the hierarchy of the Flemish school, you could say that Clemens was of the fourth generation - if Dufay is taken as the first, Ockeghem as the second, Josquin the third, with Orlando di Lassus still to come. He was one of the few successful Flemish musicians not to travel to Italy, he spent his entire life in Flanders, working in towns such as Bruges, Dordrecht and Ypres. Also unlike most other composers of that period, Clemens non Papa seems never to have been employed by the church - at least not on a permanent basis.

It's unclear as to how Jacobus Clemens came to adopt the epithet "non Papa" - in fact, it has been the subject of much conjecture. The most widely accepted version is that it meant "not the Pope" Clement - presumably because Pope Clement VII was in the Vatican at the time. Pope Clement VII died in 1534, though, so it's possible that he may have been given the nickname in childhood and it simply stuck with him for the rest of his life! Certainly, the Antwerp-based publisher Tielman Susato, with whom he had a lucrative business partnership, seemed to find the papal suffix amusing! His name is much less well known now, but in the late 1500s, Clemens non Papa was one of the most frequently published composers of the time.

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18 minutes

Music Played

  • Jacobus Clemens non Papa

    Je prens en gre la dure mort

    Performers: Melinda Lugosi (soprano), Zsuzsa Pertis (harpsichord)

    • HUNGAROTON.
    • HCD 11720-2.
  • Jacobus Clemens non Papa

    Veni electa mea

    Performers: Brabant Ensemble, Stephen Rice (conductor)

    • SIGNUM.
    • SIGCD 045.
  • Jacobus Clemens non Papa

    Ecce quam bonum

    Performers: Brabant Ensemble, Stephen Rice (conductor)

    • SIGNUM.
    • SIGCD 045.
  • Jacobus Clemens non Papa

    Hoe goet is God van Israhel

    Performers: Camerata Hungarica, Laszlo Czidra (director)

    • HUNGAROTON.
    • HCD 12194-2.
  • Jacobus Clemens non Papa

    Pater peccavi

    Performers: The Tallis Scholars, Peter Phillips (conductor)

    • GIMELL.
    • CDGIM 013.
  • Jacobus Clemens non Papa

    Ego flos campi

    Performers: Oxford Camerata, Jeremy Summerly (conductor)

    • NAXOS.
    • 8.558147.
  • Jacobus Clemens non Papa

    O maria vernans rosa

    Performers: The Monterverdi Choir, John Eliot Gardiner (conductor)

    • SDG (Soli Deo Gloria).
    • SDG 701.
  • Jacobus Clemens non Papa

    Carole, magnus eras

    Performers: Brabant Ensemble, Stephen Rice (conductor)

    • SIGNUM.
    • SIGCD 045.
  • Jacobus Vaet

    Continuo lacrimosa

    Performers: Cinquecento Renaissance Vokal

    • HYPERION.
    • CDA 67579.
  • Jacobus Clemens non Papa

    Prière devant le repas

    Performers: The Scholars of London

    • NAXOS.
    • 8.558147.

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