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Alexander Agricola

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Germany (1445 – present, 1506 – present)

Alexander Agricola (1445 or 1446 – August 1506) was a Franco-Flemish of the .

As is common with composers of the period, very little is known of his early life, not even his place of birth. He may have been born in present-day Germany, since he is referred to in some Italian documents as d’Allemagno or d’Allemagna.

Most of his life he spent in posts in Italy, France and the Low Countries, though there are gaps where his activities are not known, and he seems to have left many of his posts without permission. He was a singer for Duke Sforza of Milan from 1471 to 1474, during the period when the Milanese chapel choir grew into one of the largest and most famous ensembles in Europe; Loyset Compère, Josquin Desprez, Gaspar van Weerbeke and several other composer-singers were also in Milan during those years.

In 1474 Duke Sforza wrote a letter of recommendation for him to Lorenzo de’ Medici, and Agricola accordingly went to Florence. In 1476 he is known to have been in Cambrai, in the Low Countries, where he probably was employed as a singer.

For the long period from 1476 to 1491 nothing definite is known except that he spent part of the time in the French royal chapel, and he must have been building his reputation as a composer during this time, for he was much in demand in the 1490s, with France and Naples competing for his services.

In 1500 he took a position with Philip the Handsome, who was Duke of Burgundy and King of Castile. He apparently accompanied the Duke on his travels through his empire; by this time he was one of the most esteemed composers in Europe.

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  • Shrink125

    Sorry, but the current image is actually of William Byrd, a distinguished English composer who flourished approx 75 years later than Agricola!

    30 May 2008 Reply

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