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Pierre de La Rue (1452 - 1518)

Among the composers of the Josquin generation (c.1500) Pierre de La Rue was the leading figure in composition working north of the Alps. A master of the older canon and cantus firmus techniques, he also developed the art of imitative texture, and experimented with expanded vocal ranges and five- and six-part writing. The combination of old and new is a prominent feature of his music, as shown in this first recording of the Magnificats.

La Rue was born and educated in Tournai, an important cathedral town (now in Belgium, just north of the French border). His birthdate is not known, and the probable date depends on whether the singer and composer Pierre de La Rue who enters the documentary record in 1492 is the same person as the singer Peter vander Straten, who enters the documentary record in Brussels in 1469. For many years scholars assumed they were the same person, with French and Flemish versions of the same name (Peter of the Street), but recently Honey Meconi has questioned the identification. If they are the same person, then the composer was born around 1452; if not, he could have been born as late as 1465.

We do know for certain that in 1492 the composer Pierre de La Rue is listed as a member of the Habsburg-Burgundian Chapel, where he worked for the rest of his active life. He retired to a church job in Kortrijk/Courtrai in 1516, and died there on 20 November 1518.


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