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Benedictus Ducis (Composer)

Born: c1492 - near Konstanz
Died: 1644 - near Ulm

Benedictus [Benedict] Ducis [Duch, Dux, Herzog, Hertoghs] was a Flemish/German composer and Protestant pastor. (Benedlctus Ducis, wbo is often caned by his first name alone, must not be confounded with Benedlctus Appenzelders, a Swiss musician who lived in Belgium, but of later date and less genius.)


Benedictus Ducis was organist of the Lady Chapel in the cathedral at Antwerp, and 'Prince de la Gilde ' in the brotherhood of St. Luke in that city. He left Antwerp for England in 1515, but as his name does not appear in the lists of court musicians at that time, and no manuscript compositions of his have been found in this country, it appears that his residence in England must have been very short, if not altogether mythical. His elegy on the death of Josquin (1531), and another on the death of Erasmus (1536) fix two more dates in his life. After that no more is known of him. He was connected with the Reformation and became a pastor at various churches in the Geislingen and Ulm regions. He appears to have been an irascible character, given to wife-beating, though intellectually a friend to humanism. Some German historians have claimed him as a countryman on the strength of the publication and dedication of a setting of the Odes of Horace (published at Ulm in 1539, and dedicated to the youths of that city), maintaining that.this proves his residence in that city, but the dedication was more , probably the work of the publisher than of the composer, and the existence of the book is itself very doubtful. (See Q.-L.) His connexion with Antwerp, mentioned above, was discovered by M. Leon de Burbure, and certainly outweighs anything said in favour of his being a German; while the internal evidence of his compositions, which bear the decided Flemish character, and very closely approach the style of Josquin, sets the matter entirely at rest. Other experts say that his style is closer to that of Heinrich Isaac and Sixt Dietrich than that of Josquin Desprez, and his use of the cantus firmus is unusually free.


Benedictus Ducis composed both florid Catholic music and simpler chorale settings published by Georg Rhau for Lutheran use. We have the following compositions of his:

(1) A 4-part 'monody' on the death of Josquin, in the seventh set of French chansons in 5 and 6 parts printed by Tylman Susato in 1545. A copy of the book is in the British Museum. The composition itself is printed in Burney's History (ii. 513), with critical remarks. This with 14 other compositions by Ducis is in a manuscript at Cambrai, dated 1542. There are also songs by Ducis to the number of 80 in the old collections between 1532 and 1670.
(2) Another elegy in 5 parts, Plangite Pierides, on the death of Erasmus, and an 8-part Agnus Dei, both from the Selectissimae neenon familiarissimae cantiones ultra centum (Augsburg, 1540).
(3) Songs in the collection of German songs made by Forster and printed by Petreius (Nuremberg, 1539-40).
(4) A motet, Peccantem me quotidie from the Cantiones octo… vocum printed by Uhlard (Augsburg, 1545). 'No wonder,' says Ambros, speaking of this motet, 'that historians have striven to prove such a composer their countryman.'
(5) A motet, Dum fabricator mundi supplicium, from Georg Rhau's Selectae harmoniae… de Passione Domini (Wittenberg, 1538).
(6) Two 5-part motets, Benedic Domine, and Corde et animo, from Kriesstein's ' Cantiones sex et qninque vocum, etc.' (Augsburg, 1545.)


Source: Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1952 Edition, by J.S. Sterndale-Bennett); HOASM Wewbsite
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (February 2006)

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Settings of Aus tiefer Not, for 3 and for 4 voices

Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir

4-pt. setting of Es wollt uns Gott genedig sein in 123 Newe Deudsche Geistliche Gesenge, published by Georg Rhau in Wittenberg

Es woll uns Gott genädig sein


Vater unser im Himmelreich, 4vv

Vater unser im Himmelreich


Links to other Sites

HOASM: Benedictus Ducis




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