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Benedictus Ducis and Au Wasserflussen Babylon


Benedictus [Benedict] Ducis (born c. 1490/1492, d. 1544) was a Flemish/German organist, composer, and Protestant minister, who is often called by his first name alone and must not be confounded with Benedlctus Appenzelders, a Swiss musician who lived in Belgium, but of later date and less genius. Born c. 1490/1492  near Konstanz, Germany, Benedictus was organist of the Lady Chapel in the cathedral at Antwerp, Belgium, and ‘Prince de la Gilde ‘ in the brotherhood of St. Luke in that city. He left Antwerp for London, England, in 1515, but his name does not appear in the lists of court musicians at that time, and no manuscript compositions of his have been found in that country.  It appears that his residence in England must have been very short.

The elegy by Beneditus 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.  Beneditus was connected with the Reformation and became a minister at various churches in the Geislingen and Ulm regions.  He served at Geislingen on the Steige and in 1532 at the hospital in Ulm. From 1533 to 1535 he provided the Ulm parish in Stubersheim, and from 1535 until his death the Evangelical Pfarramt Schalkstetten . 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.

As a follower of the Reformation, Benedictus maintained close lifelong contact with the church and cultural life of Ulm.  There are those who believe that the internal evidence of his compositions bears the decided Flemish character, and very closely approach the style of Josquin, while 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 composed both fuller, florid Catholic church music as well as simpler chorale settings in the sense of Protestant thought published by Georg Rhau for Lutheran use.  He died in 1544, near Ulm, Germany.

My collection includes the following work by Benedictus Ducis:

Au Wasserflussen Babylon (By the Waters of Babylon)


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