A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Agricola, Alexander

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AGRICOLA, Alexander, a composer of great celebrity living at the end of the 15th century and beginning of the 16th. Crespel's lament on the death of Ockenheim mentions Agricola as a fellow-pupil in the school of that master; and the dates of his published works, together with an interesting epitaph printed in a collection of motetts published at Wittenberg in 1538, furnish us with materials for briefly sketching his life. The words of the epitaph, which bears the title 'Epitaphium Alex. Agricolae Symphoniastae regis Castaliae [App. p.519 "Castiliae"] Philippi,' are as follows:—

'Musica quid defles? Periit mea aura [App. p.519 "cura"] decusque.
    Estne Alexander? Is meus Agricola.
 Dic age qualis erat? Clarus vocum manuumque.
    Quis locus hunc rapuit? Valdoletanus ager.
 Quis Belgam hunc [App. p.519 "huc"] traxit? Magnus rex ipse Philippus.
    Quo morbo interiit? Febre furente obiit.
 Aetas quae fuerat? Jam sexagesimus annus.
    Sol ubi tunc stabat? Virginio [App. p.519 "in"] capite.'

The question 'Who brought this Belgian?' is decisive as to his nationality. He was certainly educated in the Netherlands, and passed great part of his life there. At an early age he was distinguished both as a singer and performer. A letter of Charles VIII of France, in Mr. Julian Marshall's collection, proves that he was in that king's service, and left it, without leave, for that of Lorenzo de' Medici, whence Charles reclaimed him. Charles died 1598 [App. p.519 "1498"]. Petrucci published some of Agricola's works at Venice in 1503. He entered the service of Philip, duke of Austria and sovereign of the Netherlands, and followed him to Castile in 1506. There Agricola remained until his death, at the age of 60 (about the year 1530), of acute fever, in the territory of Valladolid. Amongst Agricola's known works the most important are two motetts for three voices from the collection entitled 'Motetti XXXIII' (Venice, Petrucci, 1502); eight four-part songs from the collection 'Canti cento cinquanta' (Venice, Petrucci, 1503); and a volume of five masses 'Misse Alex. Agricolae' (Venice, Petrucci, 1505). It is not improbable that a large number of his compositions may still be contained in the libraries of Spain.