Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Johannes Ockeghem

Music History Monday: Johannes Ockeghem and the Oltremontani

We mark the death on February 6, 1497 – 526 years ago today – of the composer and singer Johannes Ockeghem, in Tours, France, at the age of 87 (or so).  He was born circa 1410 in the French-speaking city of Saint-Ghislain in what today is Belgium, about 5 miles from the border with France.  The title of this post – “Johannes Ockeghem and the Oltremontani” – employs a Italian word that may not be familiar to everybody: “Oltremontani.”  It’s a word that means, literally, “those from the other side of the mountains.”  The mountains in question are the alps, so in fact, generally, the word refers to people “from the other side of the alps”: from northern and northwestern Europe.  But when used in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it meant something quite more specific than that: it referred to musicians from what today are northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxemburg.  Johannes Ockeghem was just such an oltremontano, having been born in Belgium close to the northern border of France. Johannes Ockeghem (circa 1410-1497) “Born circa 1410, died 1497.”  Back in the fifteenth century, if someone became famous – and at the time of his death, Johannes Ockeghem […]

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