Born: 1445 Died: August 16, 1518
Loyset Compère was either born in Hainaut (now in Belgium) or in Artois around 1445. In the early to mid-1470s, he worked as a singer in the chapel of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan. Sforza was murdered in 1476 and soon afterwards, the court decided to reduce the size of the choir and Compère was one of those let go. For almost a decade after, there is virtually no record of him, but on the evidence of two of his chansons, he may have been at the court of Jean II, at Moulins. In 1486, he reappears as a singer at the court of Charles VIII and in 1494, he's listed there again as a singer and chaplain. That year, Compère accompanied Charles during his invasion of Italy. A letter of 1494 from Ferrante D'Este to the Duke of Ferrara, his father, describes a meeting with Compère detailing the composer's disappointment that he did not have any new compositions with him suitable to send to Ferrara. It's assumed he was in Rome during the 1495 French occupation of the city. Compère completed bachelor's degrees in canon and civil law, although it's not known when. In 1491, at the latest, Compère was given a canonry at the church of St. Quentin. On April 30, 1498, Compère was made dean at the church of St. Géry in Cambrai, a position he held for two years. After this, he moved on to a post in Douai, apparently an eventfully unpleasant one, leaving there by 1504. At this time, he was probably offered a well-paid position at St. Quentin and returned there to live out his final years. An outstanding, innovative composer in his day, Compère is considered important for having pioneered certain compositional features once thought to be innovations of Josquin Desprez's. His music, quite a lot of which survives, divides into two principal styles, one that is mainly based on the late-Burgudian model (i.e. Guillaume Dufay), the other based upon Italian secular genres such as the frottola and the lauda.