Clemens Non Papa

Nationaliteit: Belgium

Jacobus Clemens non Papa (or Jacob/Jacques Clement) is born round 1512 in what now is Belgium or Zeeland (NL). There are no details known about his early life and education. His first undisputed appearance in literature is in 1530 with the publication of a collection of his chansons by Pierre Attaignant in Paris.
Even the origin of his name suffix ‘non Papa’ is subject to discussion and speculation. He grew barely older than 40 years, but in that short period he wrote a lot of music in all the styles that were current among his contemporaries. Most famous he is for the polyphonic settings of all the 159 psalms in Dutch, known as the Souterliedekens (‘little psalm songs’) using popular melodies (ballads, love songs, drinking songs) as cantus firmus. These were published by Tielman Susato in Antwerp. Besides he wrote 15 masses (most of which were published by Pierre Phalèse the Elder in Leuven), 15 Magnificats, more than 200 motets, over 75 chansons; very prolific indeed for someone who produced only for barely two decades.
He may have lived and worked in Leiden, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Aerschot, Bruges, but proof for all this is very thin. He published with all the well-know publishers in the Low Countries. In the ‘Leiden choirbooks’ there are several motets and Magnificats by Clemens that do not occur elsewhere, so he is supposed to have actively contributed to them.
Unlike most of his contemporaries he never traveled to Italy, so he was not influenced by Italians or Flemish-Italians; his style remained purely Franco-Flemish. His works were distributed to Germany, France, Spain and even to England. His influence can be recognised in the music of Orlandus Lassus who worked in Munich. Clemens died in 1555 or 1556 and Jacob Vaet wrote his Continuo lacrimas, the deploration on Clemens’s death in 1558, suggesting in the text that Clemens died a violent death; but again nothing is certain.
He was buried in Diksmuide near Ypres in Flanders.
Cees Wagemakers, 2017