Compère’s extant output — in part of dispited attribution — consists of about three complete parody Masses (Missa Alles regretz; Missa De tous bien plaine; Missa L’homme armé) and four Mass sections, three motet cycles, twenty-three motets and Magnificats, five motet-chansons, forty-nine chansons and two frottolas (“Che fa la ramacina” and “Scaramella fa la galla”, a popular melody which he repeats as the tenor consecutively in binary and ternary measure and then without the rests inserted in the previous part, while the other voices imitate, even with initial diminutions — an original experiment).
His most famous work is the Motet “Omnium bonorum plena”, also known as the “prayer for the singers”, which implores the favor of Our Lady for several Flemish Polyphonists: Guillaume Dufay from the first generation, Antoine Busnois, Johannes Ockeghem and Johannes Regis of the second, Josquin of his own, the third, with a classical allusion to the mystical and carnal love in Solomons Song of Songs, quoting the melody of Hayne van Ghizeghem’s popular Chanson “De tous bien plaie”, which is — at least these first words — the French translation of Compère’s Latin work. The Missa Allez regrets, based on Hayne van Ghizeghem’s chanson, is a notable forerunner of the sixteenth century parody Mass (where the title indicates the work, often a Motet or even a secular song, it musically pays hommage to, which was not regarded as plagiarism in fedual days). The motet cycles are in fact “Motetti Missales”, i.e. designed to be substituted for the correct liturgical items (both Ordinary and Proper) of Masses for certain feasts — hence the label “substitution Mass” sometimes given them; this custom was unique to the Ambrosian use of Milan. Compère’s motet-chansons have a tenor with Latin text glossed by the French words of the upper voices, as in the exquisite “Royne du ciel”/“Regina caeli”. His secular works document the change from sentimental Burgundian chansons in the fixed poetic forms towards the witty chansons of later French composers, as he uses elements of both, writing both Burgundian “formes fixes” a 3 and more popular, lighter works in 4 parts (notably chansons rustiques for Francis I), avoiding the frantic melismatics of say Agricola; several were printed in Petrucci’s Harmonici musices Odhecaton (Venice, 1501, mainly devoted to secular works in 3 or 4 parts by the third generation of Flemish polyphony).
This Franco-Flemish composer was regarded as one of the most prominent of the contemporaries of Josquin Desprez, the champion of the third generation of Flemish Polyphony. Compère was a singer in the Sforza family chapel in Milan founded in 1473–74 by Galeazo Maria Sforza (for which Gaspar van Weerbecke recruited talent in 1472 and ‘73, including Josquin and Johannes Martini) till 1475, and like Josquin and Martini kept in touch with other Italian patrons of the arts, notably Isabella d’Este, daughter of duke Ercole I d’Este of Ferrara, at the ducal court of Mantua. He became court chapel singer in Paris in 1486; he accompanied king Charles VIII (1483–98) on two Italian voyages: to Casale Monferrato in 1486 and Rome in 1494-95. He was ordained as priest and became prebendary (i.e. held a Catholic clerical office) first as dean of St-Géry at Cambrai in 1498–1500, then canon in 1500 and provost in 1503 of St-Pierre at Douai; at his death he was a canon of the collegial church in Saint-Quentin (all three are now in northern France).
This contribution is mainly based on KULeuven’s musicology professor Ignace Bossuyt’s book “De Vlaamse Polyfonie” and the HOASM site linking below.