A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Ducis, Benedictus


DUCIS, or HERTOGHS,[1] Benedictus, a Flemish musician in the early part of the 16th century, organist of the Lady Chapel in the cathedral at Antwerp, and 'Prince de la Gilde' in the brotherhood of St. Luke in that city. He left Antwerp in 1515, and is supposed to have come to England, perhaps to the court of Henry VIII, but as his name does not appear in the lists of court musicians at that time, and no manuscript compositions of his have been found in this country, it appears that his residence here must have been very short, if not altogether mythical. His elegy 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. 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, but the dedication was more probably the work of the publisher than of the composer. His connection with Antwerp, mentioned above, was discovered not many years ago, by M. Leon de Burbure, and certainly outweighs anything said in favour of his being a German; while the internal evidence of his compositions, which bear the decided Flemish character, and very closely approach the style of Josquin, sets the matter entirely at rest.

We have the following compositions of his:—(1) A 4-part 'monody' on the death of Josquin, in the 7th set of French chansons in 5 and 6 parts printed by Tylman Susato in 1545. A copy of the book is in the British Museum. The composition itself is printed in Burney's History (ii. 513), with critical remarks. There are also several songs by Ducis in former volumes of the same work. (2) Another elegy in 5 parts, 'Plangite Pierides,' on the death of Erasmus, and an 8-part 'Agnus Dei,' both from the 'Selectissimæ nec non familiarissimæ cantiones ultra centum' (Augsburg 1540). (3) Songs in the collection of German songs made by Forster and printed by Petreius (Nuremberg 1539–1540). (4) A motet, 'Peccantem me quotidie,' from the 'Cantiones octo … vocum' printed by Uhlard (Augsburg 1545). 'No wonder,' says Ambros, speaking of this motet, 'that historians have striven to prove such a composer their countryman.' (5) A motet, 'Dum fabricator mundi supplicium,' from Rhau's 'Selectæ Harmoniæ … de Passione Domini' (Wittenberg 1538). (6) Two 5-part motets, 'Benedie Domine,' and 'Corde et amino,' from Kriesstein's 'Cantiones sex et quinque vocum etc.' (Augsburg 1545).
  1. Benedictus Ducis, who is often called by his first name alone, must not be confounded with Benedictus Appenzelders, a Swiss musician who lived in Belgium, but of later date and less genius.