Nicolas Gombert

Born in the town of La Gorgue, in southern Flanders. Nicolas Gombert was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was one of the most famous and influential composers between Josquin Desprez and Palestrina. He is considered one of the great polyphonists of the Renaissance, who wrote consistently in the polyphonic style, based on choral passages. He is best known for introducing the fully imitative treatment in the motet, thus including his method of composing the parody Mass remained the most important one throughout the Renaissance. He studied with Josquin Desprez during his retirement in Condé sur l'Escaut near the ended his life. He met Emperor Charles V while passing through Flanders. He was employed by the emperor Charles V as a singer in his court chapel in 1526 and also served as his unofficial composer. In 1529 he became a magister puerorum translated as master of the boys for the royal chapel for Emperor Charles V's court chapel. Around the 1530s he became a priest and he received benefices at several cathedrals: Courtrai, Lens, Metz and Béthune. He was canon of Notre Dame, Tournai in 1534. In 1534 he was appointed chorus master at Tournai and set to spend the rest of his life there. But by 1540 he had been dismissed from the imperial chapel. Around 1540 he was sentenced to a period of exile on the high seas for gross indecency, according to the evidence given by physician and mathematician Girolamo Cardano. He was convicted of child abuse against a boy in his care and he was sentenced to hard labor in the galleys. However, he was pardoned sometime around 1552 the publication date of his Magnificats. This was one of his most popular compositions which Girolamo Cardano called it his 'swan song’ . According to Girolamo Cardano he composed these pieces for Charles V as an offering and a request for a pardon. Charles V was so moved by them that he was pardoned and released him from forced labor in the galleys. He later held a canonry position at the cathedral of Tournai, where he would spend the rest of his life. He died in 1561. His music has been largely been ignored in the centuries following his death despite having a consummate reputation amongst his contemporaries.