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Josquin and Berlin

What do Josquin and Berlin have to do with each other? Berlin was not a metropolis in the late 15th century, but a “double-city” called Berlin-Kölln. The number of inhabitants did only in the course of the 16th century rise to over 10,000.

In 2022, Berlin, with a population of around 3.7 million, will be the venue for what is probably the most ambitious Josquin concert project ever: from July 13 to 16, 2022, all 18 Josquin masses considered authentic will be performed in eight concerts over four days in the Pierre Boulez Saal. The Tallis Scholars under the direction of Peter Phillips are thus making up for what they had actually planned for the 500th anniversary of Josquin’s death in 2021.

Under the title “Welcome to the Josquin Universe!” a special website has been created for the project. It is definitely worth a visit. The graphically appealing site is divided into four sections:

  1. The Masses
  2. Podcast: Master of the Notes
  3. Art guide
  4. Essays


The “Masses” section offers approximately one-minute excerpts from all eighteen masses. These are accompanied by brief explanations of the special features of each work and links to artworks that relate to the particular fair.


More ambitious is a podcast produced specifically for the website called “Master of the Notes.” The authors of the English-language podcast are Shirley Apthorp and Willem Bruls. In eight episodes, the two are tracking Josquin in Europe. Currently (May 2022), four episodes have already been released: 1. Introduction, 2. Why Josquin?, 3. In the Spider’s Web, and 4. City of Dead Ends.

Art guide

An art guide offers the opportunity to discover parallels between music and visual art with Peter Phillips. Spanning the 12th to 16th centuries, the tour begins with an illustration of Jan van Eyck’s famous Ghent Altarpiece, underlayed by a musical excerpt from the stunning Agnus Dei III from Josquin’s Missa L’homme armé sexti toni.


Finally, the “Essays” section offers some interesting contributions on the following issues:

  1. Peter Phillips: Renaissance perspectives. How music and the visual arts came alive. Essay on parallels and contradictions between music and visual art in the form of a hypothetical conversation between Josquin Desprez and the architect Filippo Brunelleschi.
  2. Harry Haskell: Josquin immortal. 500 years of a composer in the making. Text on the composer’s fascinating reception history.
  3. Ivan Moody: Sounding Out Josquin (English only). Interview between Ivan Moody and Peter Phillips on the genesis of the recording of all Josquin’s masses.
  4. Anthony Parr: Mapping Renaissance Europe. Revival and Revolution in the Quattrocento. The author places Josquin’s life and work in the intellectual-historical context of the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
  5. Peter Phillips: Heaven and earth. A performer’s guide to Josquin’s masses (English only). Reprint of an extensive article on the Masses that appeared in Musical Times in 2018.

With the website “Welcome to the Josquin Universe!”, Peter Phillips and the Pierre Boulez Saal have created a fascinating way to prepare for the July 2022 concert event.