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Illibata Dei virgo nutrix

By Josquin des Prez

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STTTB choir a cappella
Composed by Josquin des Prez (1440-1521). Edited by Ralph W. Buxton. Liturgical Use: Marian Feasts. Text: Latin. Choral. Vocal score. Duration ca. 8 minutes. Published by Notre Dame Choir Editions (PE.NDC009).

Item Number: PE.NDC009

Language: Latin.

One of this composer's greatest works, this motet is a musical self-portrait, so to speak, in which all the facets of Josquin's creative personality are displayed. The composer melds convincingly in one piece all of the musical styles with which he was familiar: from the high art of Franco-Flemish florid counterpoint to the popular homophonic idiom of the Italian laude. These varied idioms are set off within a structural framework consisting of a simple three-note motive limning in musical tones the word "Maria" and repeating at 2 pitch levels throughout the composition in ever decreasing note values. The autobiographical element is also reflected in the motet's text: a singer's prayer of supplication to the Virgin, possibly written by Josquin himself and spelling out his name in an acrostic. The motet concludes with a passionately expressive paraphrase of the Ave Maria, a litany shaped by the musical reiteration of her name and resounding, as Reinhard Strohm has commented, like "the pulse of the praying soul.".

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