Today, 27 August 2023, the 502nd anniversary of Josquin Desprez’s death, I am publishing a first version of an up-to-date bibliography.
The literature on Josquin Desprez is very extensive. The bibliography cannot claim to be complete at the present time. It is still in the process of being compiled and will be updated continuously. In the structure, I follow David Fallows’ idea and arrange the bibliography chronologically (and then alphabetically).
Roughly speaking, research can be divided into the years in which it was assumed that Josquin Desprez was born in 1440 and those in which it is assumed that he was born between 1450 and 1455.
Right at the beginning of the bibliography is the article “Deprès ou Despres (Josquin)” by François-Joseph Fétis from his Biographie universelle des musiciens et bibliographie générale from 1861. Remarkably, Fétis already got to the heart of the controversy about the year of birth very well:
La date précise de la naissance de Josquin Desprès est un mystère que les efforts des biographes n‘ont pu pénétrer. Il est des auteurs qui l‘ont fait remonter jusqu‘en 1440, mais il est peu vraisemblable qu‘elle soit si ancienne, car il est remarquable que Tinctoris, qui écrivit son traité du contrepoint en 1477, et qui a cité les noms de tous les musiciens célèbres de son temps, qui certes aurait eu déjà une brillante renommée s‘il eût alors atteint l‘âge de trente-sept ans. […] Au reste, Josquin Desprès n‘a pas dû naitre plus tard que 1450 ou 1455, car il fut chantre de la chapelle pontificale antérieurement à 1484, et il est ne devait pas avoir moins de vingt-cinq ans lorsq‘il fut admis dans cette chapelle.Fétis, Francois Joseph (1861) Deprès ou Despres (Josquin), in Biographie universelle de musiciens et bibliographie générale de la musique: deuxième édition. Paris: Librairie de Firmin-Didot et Cie., S. 473
It was not until over 125 years later that Pamela Starr and Lora Matthews and Paul Merkley succeeded in identifying Johannes Stokem (Starr) and Juschinus de Kessalia (Matthews/Merkley), two musicians who were mistakenly thought to be Josquin Desprez. This assumption has led to erroneous assumptions for the. Research has both shifted the year of birth from 1440 to 1450 to 1455 (Matthews/Merkley) and shortened Josquin’s years in the papal chapel by three years. He did not enter until 1489 and not already in 1486.
With regard to the chronological bibliography, it can be noted that only the literature after 1998 takes into account the corrections to the biography, which has an impact above all on biographical literature as well as, in particular, on literature dealing with the dating of works.
Since the celebrations of the 450th anniversary of Josquin Despez’s death (1971) – and especially with the publication of an opulent volume of conferences in 1976 – the number of scholarly contributions on Josquin Desprez has increased significantly. There are more than 1,000 scholarly articles and books, plus countless others that deal with Josquin in passing and are not listed in the bibliography.