Jacobus Clemens “non Papa” (c.1510/5-1555/6)
Jacobus Clemens “non Papa” was one of the finest composers of the 16th century, being highly regarded in his lifetime and published throughout Europe in a variety of musical styles, both sacred and secular. Yet today he remains a somewhat unknown and underrated figure, known more for his nickname “non Papa” than his music. Little is known about his life (though unusually for a Flemish composer, he seems not to have travelled to Italy) and how he acquired his nickname is also something of a mystery. It has been suggested that it was to distinguish him from Pope Clement VII on account of Clemens’ immoral behaviour. Alternatively, it could have been to differentiate him from Jacobus Papa, a poet active in Ypres. His music stands out from his contemporaries – particularly the slightly older Nicolas Gombert – through his use of sudden changes of texture or harmony, lending it an overall more expressive quality than other Flemish music of the time.