Josquin des Prez’ “Nymphes des Bois”: Graindelavoix

Nymphes des bois (“Nymphs of the woods”) is a sensuous, five-voice lamentation by the High Renaissance Franco-Flemish composer, Josquin des Prez (c. 1450-1521). A musical memorial, it was written following the February 1497 death of Johannes Ockeghem, an influential composer with whom Josquin may have studied. The text, based on a poem by Jean Molinet, includes the Requiem Aeternam as a cantus firmus. The first two sections of the piece pay homage to Ockeghem’s contrapuntal style.

Graindelavoix, an Antwerp-based ensemble led by Björn Schmelzer, included Nymphes des bois (also known as La Déploration de Johannes Ockeghem) on their 2021 album, Josquin, the Undead: Laments, Deplorations & Dances of Death. Here is a video from the recording session. Following a few seconds of chatter and technical preparations, we are drawn into the magic of this sublime music, composed over 500 years ago.

Wood-nymphs, goddesses of the fountains,
Skilled singers of every nation,
Turn your voices, so clear and lofty,
To piercing cries and lamentation
Because Atropos, terrible satrap,
Has caught your Ockeghem in her trap,
The true treasurer of music and master,
Learned, handsome and by no means stout.
It is a source of great sorrow that the earth must cover him.

Put on the clothes of mourning,
Josquin, Pierre de la Rue, Brumel, Compère,
And weep great tears from your eyes,
For you have lost your good father.

May they rest in peace.


Featured Image: Josquin’s presumed signature (JOSQUINJ) on the Sistine Chapel’s choir gallery wall

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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