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Loyset Compère

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Loyset Compère (c. 1445 – 16 August 1518) was a French composer of the Renaissance. Of the same generation as Josquin Desprez, he was one of the most significant composers of motets and chansons of that era, and one of the first musicians to bring the light Italianate Renaissance style to France.

His exact place of birth is not known, but documents of the time assign him to a family from the province of Artois (in modern France), and suggest he may have been born in Hainaut (in modern Belgium). At least one source from Milan indicates he described himself as coming from Arras, also in Artois.

Both the date and probable place of birth are extremely close to those of Josquin Desprez; indeed the area around the current French-Belgian border produced an astonishing number of excellent composers in the 15th and 16th centuries, composers whose fame spread throughout Europe. Often these composers are known as the Franco-Flemish, or as the Dutch School.

In the 1470s Compère worked as a singer in Milan at the chapel of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza, during the time that composers such as Johannes Martini and Gaspar van Weerbeke were also singing there. The chapel choir in the early 1470s grew into one of the largest and most famous singing ensembles in Europe. After the murder of the duke in 1476, Compère appears to have been “laid off” from the chapel, and he may have returned to France at this time.

Sometime during the next ten years he began to work at the French court, and he accompanied Charles VIII on his invasion of Italy in 1494 (in what capacity is not known). He was in Rome in early 1495 during the occupation of the city by Charles and his army.

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