Gradually, most of the best composers drifted to the various courts of Europe, so problems naturally arose between the monarchs (who expected complete obedience) and the musicians (who were proud of their cultural independence). In the early 1500s, the great Josquin des Pres had several times been promised a raise by his boss, Louis XII of France. Louis kept forgetting about it, though, and when his patience gave out, Josquin wrote a new motet to be sung before the king, using a section of the 119th Psalm: "Oh, Think Upon the Word You Have Given Thy Servant." He cleverly devised the music so that the phrase was repeated again and over again, to the point that, according to one chronicle of the period, "the king would have been exceptionally hard of hearing not to notice the hint thus conveyed to him." Anyway, he did notice, he smiled, and came through with the raise. Whereupon, Josquin wrote another motet on a different phrase from the same Psalm: "Thou Hast Dealt Graciously With Thy Servant."
Friday, March 2, 2012
From Victor Borge's My Favorite Comedies In Music. He writes about Josquin des Pres, whose works we occasionally sing: