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A Birth of Classical 1

A YouTube History of Music

Medieval - Renaissance

Group & Last Name Index to Full History:


Composers are listed chronologically. Tracks are listed alphabetically.

Not on this page? See history tree below.



Peter Abelard    Alexander Agricola    Jacques Arcadelt    Guido da Arezzo

Gilles Binchois    Antoine Brumel    Antoine Busnois    William Byrd
Giulio Caccini    Loyset Compère    Guillaume Costeley    Giovanni Croce
John Dowland    Guillaume Dufay    John Dunstaple
Girolamo Frescobaldi
Andrea Gabrieli    Giovanni Gabrieli    Michelagnolo Galilei    Vincenzo Galilei    Carlo Gesualdo    Hayne van Ghizeghem    Nicolas Gombert    Claude Goudimel    Guillaume (William) IX
Hildegard of Bingen    Hucbald
Marc'Antonio Ingegneri    Heinrich Isaac
Francesco Landini    Orlande de Lassus    Claude Le Jeune    Léonin    Adrian Le Roy    Etienne (Stephen) de Liege    Luzzasco Luzzaschi
Guillaume de Machaut    Marcabru    Luca Marenzio    Claudio Merulo    Claudio Monteverdi    Thomas Morley    Jean Mouton
Jacob Obrecht    Johannes Ockeghem
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina    Ercole Pasquini    Jacopo Peri    Pérotin    Michael Praetorius    Josquin des Prez
Romanos the Melodist    Cipriano de Rore    Vincenzo Ruffo
Thomas Tallis
Bernart de Ventadorn    Tomás Luis de Victoria
Thomas Weelkes    John Wilbye    Adrian Willaert    William (Guillaume) IX



Featured on this page in order of the composer's birth date.

Names are alphabetical, not chronological, per year:



Romanos the Melodist

505 Yared
810 Kassia
850 Hucbald    Etienne (Stephen) de Liege
991 Guido da Arezzo
1071 Guillaume (William) IX
1079 Peter Abelard
1098 Hildegard of Bingen
1110 Marcabru
1135 Bernart de Ventadorn
1150 Léonin
1200 Pérotin
1300 Guillaume de Machaut
1335 Francesco Landini
1390 John Dunstaple
1397 Guillaume Dufay
1400 Gilles Binchois
1410 Johannes Ockeghem
1430 Antoine Busnois
1445 Alexander Agricola    Loyset Compère    Hayne van Ghizeghem
1450 Heinrich Isaac    Josquin des Prez
1457  Jacob Obrecht
1459 Jean Mouton
1460 Antoine Brumel
1475 Michelagnolo Galilei
1490 Adrian Willaert
1495 Nicolas Gombert
1505 Thomas Tallis
1507 Jacques Arcadelt
1508 Vincenzo Ruffo
1515 Cipriano de Rore
1517  Claude Goudimel
1520 Andrea Gabrieli    Vincenzo Galilei    Christoph Willibald Gluck    Adrian Le Roy
1525 Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
1528 Claude Le Jeune
1530 Guillaume Costeley
1532 Orlande de Lassus
1533 Claudio Merulo
1535 Marc'Antonio Ingegneri
1543 William Byrd
1545 Luzzasco Luzzaschi
1548 Tomás Luis de Victoria
1550 Luca Marenzio
1551 Giulio Caccini
1556 Giovanni Gabrieli
1557 Giovanni Croce    Thomas Morley
1560 Carlo Gesualdo    Ercole Pasquini
1561 Jacopo Peri
1563 John Dowland
1567 Claudio Monteverdi
1571 Michael Praetorius
1574 John Wilbye
1576 Thomas Weelkes
1583 Girolamo Frescobaldi


  As one can't hope to account for each step along the way, this page promises to be a something arbitrary index of the many medieval and renaissance composers predating the classical era. The roots of classical music are buried in the Catholic Church, both Orthodox and Roman, its earliest expressions in chants and hymns. It's first secular influences would not arise until several centuries later with the roaming troubadour. Due that specific dates are largely impossible with most medieval and Renaissance music this page is structured differently from the other YouTube histories. Instead of listing songs alphabetically by year, songs are listed alphabetically without regard to year. That is, they are not in chronological order. Appended dates are the year of publication if not composition. Posthumous publishing dates are generally not noted. Years at listing headers attempt to date years during which the musician was (possibly) actively composing in some manner. They are broadly circa and largely, though not exclusively, disregard childhood (juvenilia), but may account for unknown works, published or not, in early adulthood, college or study. End dates assume most composers were yet working at the time of their deaths excepting unique cases known otherwise. If the composer you're seeking isn't on this page he may be in Baroque.

  The Medieval period of music is generally said to extend from year 476 to 1400. Not until the ninth century would such as Armenian, Byzantine and Frankish composers come to be lastingly documented. Born circa 490 in Syria, Romanos the Melodist arrived a few centuries earlier, a Greek Byzantine hymnographer who composed for both the Eastern and Western Catholic Church, though he largely wrote kontakia (hymns) for the Eastern Church. I'm guessing Romanos hadn't a clue that his name would yet be known 16 centuries later, much less with his own Wikipedia page. Thought to have been born Jewish in Emesa (now Homs) or Damascus, Syria, Romanos became a deacon in the Church of the Resurrection upon traveling to Beirut. He soon moved onward to Constantinople where he is thought to have lived during the reigns of Anastasius I, Anastasius II and Justinian, serving as a sacristan (church keeper) in the Hagia Sophia (Great Church). Romanos is uncertainly credited with writing the Akathist Hymn, and would be sainted a patron for singers by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Romanos died approximately 556 in Constantinople. 'Kontakion of the Nativity' is his best-known piece, dated to 518. Cyriacus the Anchorite was his best-known contemporary as a hymn composer. The Melodist's kontakia would have been sung in the Constantinoplian Greek of his period, which makes samples below less representative of Romanos than sixteen centuries already have.

Romanos the Melodist   6th Century

   Kontakion of the Nativity

      518   In Arabic

   Kontakion of the Nativity

      518   In English


Birth of Classical Music: Romanos the Melodist

Romanos the Melodist

Depicted with the Theotokos (Mother of God)

Source: St. Peter & St. Paul

Birth of Classical Music: Yared


Source: Black Past
Yared (505-571) is the only known contemporary of Romanos the Melodist documented at Wikipedia. His name was taken from Jared in the book of 'Genesis', said to have been the father of Enoch. Jared is reputed to have lived 952 years, his the sixth of ten generations from Adam to Noah, when it's said per Enoch that angels descended to Earth. As for Yared, he is thought to have originated the zema (chant) tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, a part of the greater Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria said to have been founded by the 'Gospel' author, (Saint) Mark. Yared is known to have composed five volumes of chants for the Ethiopian Church. Yared is also known to have performed for Ethiopian Emperor, Gabra Masqal (550-64). Wikipedia continues the traditional story of Masqal accidentally dropping a spear on Yared's foot. To compensate he granted Yared's wish to be able to live in solitude in the Semien Mountains in northern Ethiopia, where he died a recluse in 571. Like the Melodist, sixteen centuries have passed since Yared composed, thus the samples below may be better regarded as approximations than faithful renditions. Per below, 'Mahelete Ze Asterio Mariam' translates to 'The Hymn's of St. Yared for the Feats of Virgin Mary'.

Yared   6th Century

  Werebs the Holy Trinity

   Mahelete Ze Asterio Mariam

      Kidist Mariam/Debre Tsige, Ethiopia

  Mahelete Ze Asterio Mariam

      Kidist Mariam/Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

  Werebs for the New Year

  Werebs for Saint George

  Werebs for Virgin Mariyam


Birth of Classical Music: Saint Kassia

Saint Kassia

Source: Wikipedia
Born in either 805 or 810 in Constantinople, Saint Kassia was daughter to wealthy parents with proximity to royalty, such that she was among the contestants at the bride show during which soon-to-be Emperor Theophilos chose his bride circa 830. The bride show was an event known to occur in ancient Greece by which a potential husband strolled between two lines of females with a golden apple to award to his choice of wife. It was practiced in 8th and 9th century Byzantine as well (and tsarist Russia). It was also customary for women to be submissively quiet. It's said that as Theophilos approached her he remarked upon the evil of women in reference to Eve: "Through a woman came forth the baser things" (verbatim by tradition). Kassia might have become an Empress had she kept silent, but she replied instead as to the good of women in reference to the Virgin Mary: "And through a woman came forth the better things". Not pleased, Theophilos passed her up, the less argumentative Theodora to gain the apple. With that romance nipped at bud Kassia disappeared from history until slightly prior to Theophilos' death in 842, tradition finding him attempting to visit her at a monastery of the Orthodox Church. In 843 Kassia founded her own monastery at Constantinople and became its abbess. As for her compositions, fifty of her hymns are yet extant, 23 of which occupy the liturgy of the Orthodox Church. Among the best known of her hymns were and remain 'The Fallen Woman' and 'Augustus, the Monarch'. Kassia also left behind a large block of secular writings such as philosophical aphorisms. Eventually leaving Constantinople, Kassia traveled in Italy a bit before settling on the Greek island of Kasos before dying prior to 866. She was sainted by the Eastern Orthodox Church in 867.

Kassia   9th Century

   The Fallen Woman

      Vocal: Jessica Suchy-Pilalis


      Anthology   Vocals: VocaMe


Birth of Classical Music: Hucbald


Source: Geni
The Catholic Church puts Hucbald's birth at 850, other sources about 840 in northern France. Hucbald was a Benedictine monk, mentioned not for his compositions, nor because he read Greek literature like others, but because there is witnessed with Hucbald an early interest in ancient Grecian music theory, such as would attend classical music for centuries to come and be a major subject of study at later conservatories. In Hucbald's case it was a matter of reconciling the secular with the Church and the Gregorian chant (per Pope Gregory I who held the Papal seat from 590 to 604). Hucbald wasn't the first medieval music theorist to arise in western Europe who addressed Greek thought concerning music. There had been the Roman scholar, Boethius' (c 480–524 AD), 'De Institutione Musica' in the early 6th century, addressing the spheres (world[s]), harmony and instrumental music (excerpt from Book 1). Howsoever, Hucbald's 'Musica' (also known as 'De Harmonica Institutione') surfaced about 880, a treatise on notation and modes. Hucbald also wrote poems, hagiography (lives of saints) and hymns. Though said to have written four Catholic offices (prayers) at least two if not all are disputed. Among those is the 'Office of Rietrudis'. There are no known scores by Hucbald, his composing apparently textual, thus no interpretations to be recorded either. Hucbald died in 920.

  Born circa 850 in Belgium, Etienne de Liege (Stephen de Liege) left behind more music than information about his life. He was abbot of a Benedictine monastery in Lobbes, Belgium, and canon of Metz Cathedral in Lorraine, France. Among works attributed to Liege are the office, 'In Festi Sanctisissimae Trinitatis', and the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Trinity. Liege also wrote hagiographies (lives of saints). He was the bishop of Liege from 901 until his death in 920.

Etienne de Liege   9th - 10th Century

   In Festi Sanctisissimae Trinitatis




Birth of Classical Music: Etienne de Liege<

Etienne (Stephen) de Liege

Source: Christ Church Cathedral

  Born circa 991 in Italy, Guido da Arezzo was a Benedictine monk and music theorist who left behind texts but likely no compositions. His place on this page is due to his invention of solmization sometime after 1028: ut, re, mi, fa, sol and la for the six tones of the hexachord: C, D, E, F, G and A. Not long afterward the diatonic scale of seven notes came into use, si (ti) added, do eventually replacing ut. (The octave wouldn't be developed in classical music until a few centuries later.) Arezzo also expanded the customary two-line staff to four, adding one red and one yellow. The five-line stave would appear in 13th century Italy. (Six lines were also somewhere developed and used as late as the 16th century.) Arezzo is also a principle figure for his 'Micrologus de Disciplina Artis Musicae' (c 1025) yielding knowledge of his period. He died sometime after 1033. Per 'Ut Queant Laxis' below (which translates to 'May Be Loosened'), Arezzo wrote the text though not likely the melody (traditionally, though mootly, ascribed to Paulus Diaconus [Paul the Deacon]). Arezzo is thought to have applied an ancient text by Horace (4.11: 'Ode to Phyllis') to the already existent melody, altering it for its alternative title, 'Hymn to John the Baptist'. Howsoever, the example below reveals the solmization used in the first stanza. Full text.

Guido da Arezzo   10th Century

   Ut Queant Laxis



Birth of Classical Music: Guido da Arezzo

Guido da Arezzo

Source: Longwood University
Birth of Classical Music: Guillaume IX

Guillaume (William) IX

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Born in 1071 in France, Guillaume IX d'Aquitaine follows Hermann of Reichenau (1013-54), long famous for hymns he didn't write, such as the final prayer of the Rosary, 'Salve Regina' ('Hail Holy Queen'), now considered anonymous. Guillaume IX, however, has the problem of only a fragment of one his melodies surviving, albeit a number of his poems, eleven to be precise, remain. Guillaume nevertheless finds place on this page as Europe's first troubadour, or so it's generally agreed. Troubadours were poets and singers of secular songs largely about courtly love. Such wasn't exactly like busking for dinner though, as Guillaume became Duke of Aquitaine and Gascony in 1086 upon the death of his father. Among his fellow troubadours he was known as Count of Poitou (William VII). In 1068 at age sixteen he entered into an unhappy marriage with Ermengarde of Anjou, five years his senior, which was dissolved a couple years later. In 1094 he married Philippa, whose father died that year, making her Countess of Toulouse. In 1101 Guillaume mortgaged Toulouse to finance his participation in the Second Crusade (the first in 1099). He there experienced multiple defeats in skirmishes until his entire army was lost, only six to escape with him to Antioch later in '01. Cutting to the chase, after getting excommunicated a couple of times, some romantic intrigue between he, Philippa and one Viscountess Dangerose (Philippa to become a nun), and more military battles, now in Spain, he died in 1127.

  Born in 1079 in Le Pallet, France, Peter Abelard (Petrus Abaelardus) was a scholar, philosopher, theologian and logician who also composed music, the last long considered a science alongside math and astronomy. Poems, hymns and melodies by Abelard yet survive. His father was a knight named Berengar who encouraged his early study of liveral arts and academics. About 1100 he went to Paris to study realism under William of Champeaux. The two would part due to disagreements, less in philosophy, however, than temperament. Abelard quickly began to found his own schools, teaching dialectic to compete with his former master. He is said to have developed a following of thousands as a philosopher and theologian when he met Héloïse d'Argenteuil in 1115/16, she becoming a private pupil of his. It's a convoluting story to the loss of Peter's peter, but it was a situation between him and Heloise' uncle, Canon Fulbert, to whom he'd been paying board (thus meeting Heloise) before he and Heloise secretly married. Add Abelard's mistaken intentions when he returned her to the convent at Argenteuil where she'd gone to school until age seventeen (then to meet Abelard). Just how such violent sentiments developed must be left to your time machine, but Fulbert came to hiring some friendly sorts to break into his room one night to have him castrated. Enter some majorly changed reality and life found both Abelard and Heloise living separated in different monasteries. He became the Abbey of Saint-Denis, she the head of her convent at Argenteuil. Sometime 1122 onward he became a hermit. Living a rudimentary life in the wilderness, he was nevertheless quickly discovered and ended up with a load of disciples who pitched camp with him. Which is how he came to found the monastery, the Oratory of the Paraclete. Abelard and Heloise met again in 1929. She was head of a new foundation, also called the Paraclete, of which he became abbott. The early thirties saw them corresponding about religion and writing love letters. He would turn to teaching again, the meanwhile publishing various literary works. He faced excommunication in 1141 for heresy, by plaint of (Saint) Bernard of the Cistercian order at Clairvaux that Abelard's logic was illogical for being applied to such as to which logic didn't apply. He found an intercessor, though, in Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny, at which abbey Abelard came to reside. He died in 1942 of scurvy at the priory of St. Marcel, "I don't know" are thought his final words. Between about 1120 and 1140 he had written eleven philosophical works. As for music, Abelard wrote love songs for Heloise, since lost. Sometime after 1130 he composed a hymnal for her Paraclete convent. He also composed six Biblical planctus (laments), albeit only the sixth lends itself to faithful transcription: 'Planctus David Super Saul et Jonathan'. Per examples below, texts are by Abelard. If the melodies are as well then we celebrate good luck.

Peter Abelard   12th Century

   Mater Salvatoris


  Planctus David . . . Jonathan

      Vocal/Harp: Arianna Savall

     Vocal: Hardingfele: Petter Johansen

  O Quanta Qualia

      1130>   Office for Heloise' Paraclete


Birth of Classical Music: Abelard & Heloise

Abelard & Heloise

Source: Wikipedia
Birth of Classical Music: Hildegard Von Bingen

Hildegard Von Bingen

Source: Science 2.0
Born circa 1098 in Germany, (Saint) Hildegard of Bingen is thought to have been placed in the care of Jutta, daughter of Count Stephan II of Sponheim, at age eight. In 1112 she and Jutta entered the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg, she fourteen. Upon Jutta's death in 1136 Hildegaard became magistra of the nunnery until founding her own in 1150 in Rupertsberg. A second monastery followed at Eibingen in 1165. Being a mystic and subject to visions since a child, she was yet reluctant to speak of them. it wasn't until after founding her monastery in Rupertsberg that she completed 'Scivias' in 1151/52, a book of 26 visions. Portions of that work in progress had been read by Pope Eugenius III in 1948. He concurring that such were divinely inspired, Hildegard now acquired the most important endorsement of all, that of the Papacy, and began writing on all manner of subjects in various forms: music for the liturgy, a morality play titled 'Ordo Virtutum' ('Play of the Virtues'), sermons, a couple of volumes addressing medicine, an invented language, a Gospel commentary, and a couple hagiographies. She also left behind nearly four hundred correspondences with such as Emperors and Popes. Her second theological volume was 'Liber Vitae Meritorum' ('Book of Life's Merits'), completed sometime between 1158 and '63, she at Rupertsberg. Her last work before her death was the theological tome, 'Liber Divinorum Operum' ('Book of Divine Works'), concerning ten visions. Hildegard died in 1179 and was beautified, but had trouble becoming an officially recognized saint. She was nevertheless referred to as a saint, appeared in 'Roman Martyrology' in the latter 16th century and was made a Doctor of the Church, a rank higher than sainthood, in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. As for music, there was that for the play 'Ordo Virtutum', and a number of liturgical hymns collected into 'Symphonia Armoniae Celestium Revelationum'. They were scored in neumes (preceding the five-line stave), thus tempo went unindicated (no vertical bars) as in all medieval scoring.

Hildegard   12th Century


      Cappella quartet: Anonymous 4


      Cappella quartet: Anonymous 4

  Ordo Virtutum

      1151>   Morality play


  It isn't known when Marcabru was born in Gascony in southwestern France. Dates vary widely from as early as 1099, but circa 1110 is most commonly seen. Unlike his fellow troubadours who tended to be of the aristocratic class, Marcabru is said to have been conceived by a desperate woman who left him at the doorstep of an anonymous rich man when he was infant. Howsoever, he eventually entered into the service of Guillaume X, son of Guillaume IX d'Aquitaine, usually described as the first known troubadour. Troubadours were singers of secular songs who wrote their own verses or not while traveling the countryside or not. For someone with no exact birthdate Marcabru came to great fame, he also often mentioned in histories. He composed romances, satires, and songs for both the Crusades and the Reconquista (718/22-1492). (The Reconquista refers to the reclaiming of the Iberian peninsula from Islam, beginning with the Battle of Covadonga, ending with the fall of Granada approachng eight centuries later.) Forty-one of Marcabru's 44 known poems can be read at Trobar, as well as the poems of numerous troubadours. His melodies aren't as extant, there remaining only four with three possible contrafacta (his melodies used by other poets). Those four melodies are 'Bel m'es quan son li fruich madur', 'Dirai vos senes doptansa' (c 1138), 'L'autrier jost'una sebissa' and 'Pax in nomine Domini' (c 1137). Marcabru died circa 1150. It isn't known how true it may be that it was his caustic attitude toward lords of Gascony which led them to arrange his demise.

Marcabru   12th Century

   Bel m'es quan son li fruich madur

      'I love when the fruits are ripe'

     Ensemble Tre Fontane

   Dirai vos senes doptansa

      Circa 1138

     Ensemble Tre Fontane

   L'autrier jost'una sebissa


   Pax in nomine Domini

      Circa 1137   Song for the Crusades


Birth of Classical Music: Marcabru


Source: Twitter/Marcabru

Birth of Classical Music: Bernart de Ventadorn

Bernart de Ventadorn

Source: Todd Tarantino

Born circa 1135 in France, Bernart de Ventadorn is a good example of the troubadour (itinerant musician). Troubadours had begun plying their craft about the cusp of the eleventh and twelfth centuries and were popular until about mid-fourteenth century. Ventadorn is thus exemplary of the canco or, canson (song), well-developed beyond his earlier roving counterparts. Troubadours (called trouvères in northern France) were among the earliest instances of secular music apart from the Church. Troubadours were poets and singers for whom courtly love was the large topic. They differed from traveling jugglers and minstrels in that they sought patronage from kings and queens rather than only lords, ladies and anyone else with coins in their purse. Born in Ventadour, Ventadorn wrote his first poems for the wife of Eble III of Ventadorn, Marguerite de Turenne. Said to have been forced to leave Ventadour due to falling in love with the viscount's wife, Ventadorn then traveled to Montluçon and Toulouse, then England. He was later employed by Count Raimon V of Toulouse. Ventadorn later entered a monastery in Dordogne, where he likely died about 1195.

Bernart de Ventadorn   12th Century

   Ben m'an perdut

   Can l'erba fresch

      Ensemble Céladon

   Can vei la lauzeta


   Cant Par La Flor

      Guitar: Roland Keunings

   La dousa vota

      Mediaeval Ensemble

   Non Es Marveilla

      Guitar: Roland Keunings

   Quan vei la lauzeta mover


Notre Dame Cathedral

Cathedral of Notre Dame (Notre-Dame de Reims)

Big Dog of Medieval Music
Born circa 1155, likely France, Léonin (probably went by Léo) is an apt example of ars antiqua (European music during the latter 12th and early 13th centuries). With Léonin one also heard the Gregorian chant upon a couple centuries of prior development. The Gregorian chant has long been popularly credited to Pope Gregory I, who held the papal seat from 590 to 604. Developed itself out of the plainchant (plain song of the Roman Church), scholars believe the actual origins of the Gregorian chant to have been around 900, emerging from a combination of the Carolingian and Gallican Roman chant (song), thus owning a stronger French than Italian heritage. Léonin belonged to the Notre Dame School of Polyphony in Paris since its inception, and was instrumental in the development of the motet (sacred song) out of the clausula (polyphonic song: two or more voices). With the motet was seen the emergence of counterpoint in European music. Tin Pan Alley sold a lot of sheet music centuries later thanks much to Léonin, due that among his tasks at Notre Dame was to devise a system of meter and notation. (Some think he is identical with the poet, Leonius.) Léonin lived during the emergence of Gothic architecture. To the left is a photo of the Cathedral de Notre Dame where Léonin would have worked during the early phases of its construction (begun in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII, completed circa 1300). As significant to medieval music as Notre Dame was the "Queen of the Renaissance," the lute, developed in Mesopotamia by at least 2000 BC and introduced to Europe by Arabian culture. To the right is a 12th century painting of a lute player in Spain. Léonin died in 1201.

Léonin   12th Century

   Alleluya Pascha nostrum

      David Munrow

   Assumpta est Maria

      Director: Steven Sven Olbash

   Gaude Maria Virgo


      Album   Ensemble Organum

   Organum Duplum




Source: Geni

Birth of Classical Music: 12th Century Lute Player

12th Century Lute Player

Source: Musicologie
  Flourishing circa 1200 in France, Pérotin the Great belonged to the Notre Dame School of Polyphony in Paris and examples ars antiqua slightly later than Léonin above. His birthdate unknown, Pérotin was a student of Léonin (above), and is featured in the 'Magnus Liber Organi' ('Great Book of Organum'). The 'Great Book' was a compilation of polyphonic compositions, elaborating on the Gregorian chant, begun circa 1170 by Léonin and later expanded by Pérotin. It's compositions were of what were called organum: plainchant melodies for two or more voices or, in harmonic symphoniae. The 'Great Book of Organum' was often used by the Church. Pérotin distinguished himself from Léonin largely by his use of tenor amidst multiple (four) voices. It isn't known when Pérotin died, though he is thought to have to been yet alive in 1220, perhaps living to about 1238.

Pérotin   Circa 1200

Alleluia Nativitas

The Hilliard Ensemble

Beata Viscera

  The Hilliard Ensemble

   Mors (Mothers)

      Chronos Vocal Ensemble

   Organum Triplum

     Chronos Vocal Ensemble

Sederunt Principes

  The Hilliard Ensemble

Veni Creator Spiritus

The Hilliard Ensemble

Viderunt Omnes

 The Hilliard Ensemble

Birth of Classical Music: Perotin


Source: Classical Archives
  Born circa 1300, Guillaume de Machaut is a fundamental example of ars nova (French music during the 14th century). Machaut was a secular poet and motet composer whose repertoire included rearrangements of traditional troubadour melodies as well. (Per above, the motet was simply a polyphonic song.) Machaut's, however, was a broad range in anything. He also composed the 'Messe de Nostre Dame'. The 'Messe de Nostre Dame' was the earliest complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass attributable to a single composer. As a young man Machaut began serving as secretary to King John I of Bohemia in 1323, a position he retained until John's death in 1346, after which he entered the service of various other royals, meanwhile surviving the Black Death which plagued Europe from 1346 to 1353. Alike his music, both religious and secular, Machaut assumed his first position as a canon in the Church in 1330. As a poet Machaut largely wrote as to courtly love and narratives. He is known to have written about 400 poems, the larger portion of them being ballades. By the time Machaut died in 1377 he had established himself as the most significant French composer of his century, and joined Chaucer and Petrarch, his contemporaries, in regard as a poet.

Guillaume de Mauchant   1340 - 1365

   De Fortune me doi pleindre et loer

      'Ballad 23'

      Ensemble Musica Nova

   Douce Dame Jolie


   Doulz Viaire Gracieus

      The Ensemble Gilles Binchois

   Je vivroie liement

      The Ensemble Gilles Binchois

   Je vivroie liement/Liement me deport


   Le Jugement du Roi de Navarre

      The Ensemble Gilles Binchois

   Messe de Nostre Dame

      The Ensemble Gilles Binchois

   Puis qu'en oubli

      The Oxford Camerata

   Quant je sui mis au retour (Virelai 13)

La harpe de melodie

   Tels rit au main qui au soir pleure


      Ensemble Project Ars Nova


 Birth of Classical Music: Guillaume de Machaut

Guillaume de Machaut

Source: Centro Studi Europeo
Birth of Classical Music: 14th Century Organ: Cathedral de Rodez

14th Century Organ   Cathedral de Rodez

Source: Travel France
Likely born in Florence, Italy, circa 1335, Francesco Landini was Southern Europe's reply to Machaut in the North a generation or so later. Landini is a perfect example of the Trecento period, that is, the emergence of the Renaissance in the latter 14th century. (The Renaissance is generally understood to embrace the 15th and 16th centuries.) Landini's father was a painter in Giotto's school. Born blind, Landini was a composer, poet and singer. A multi-instrumentalist, he favored the lute and organ. Like Machaut above, Landini's musical production was mixed between the sacred and the secular. He became employed as a Church organist in 1361 but composed largely secular music. No images are found of the few cathedral organs Landini helped build. But no history of classical music, even so condensed as this, would be complete without mention of the pipe organ. The image to the left shows the organ at the Cathedral de Rodez in France during the latter 14th century, contemporaneous with Landini. The image to the right shows Landini with a miniature or, portative, organ. By the time of his death in 1397, Landini had established himself as Italy's preeminent composer of the 14th century, though in poetry that distinction would remain with Dante Alighieri who preceded him by some seventy years, writing his 'Divine Comedy' during the early 14th century prior to Landini's birth.

Francesco Landini   1360 - 1397

   Adiu,, adiu dous dame

      Ensemble Alla Francesca

La Bionda Treçça

       Ensemble Alla Francesca

   Cara Mia Donna

   Donna, s'i'' t'o fallito

      Studio der Frühen Musik

   A Laurel for Landini

      The Gothic Voices

   Deh,, Dimmi Tu

      The Lumina Vocal Ensemble

   Ecco la Primavera

      The Waverly Consort

   Guarda una Volta

      The Gothic Voices

   I' Priego Amor

      Sylvain Bergeron, Margaret Folkemer

     Jennifer Grout, Laura Osterlund

   Lasso! Di donna vana inamorato

      Ensemble Alla Francesca

   Musica Son/Già Furon/Ciascun Vuol

      The Gothic Voices

   Non avra ma' pieta questa mia Donna

      The Ensemble Unicorn

Birth of Classical Music: Francesco Landini

Francesco Landini

Source: Wikipedia
Birth of Classical Music: John Dunstaple

John Dunstaple

Source: Wikipedia
Born about 1390 in Bedfordshire, England, John Dunstaple well represents late medieval and early Renaissance across the channel from the Continent. Though it's unlikely that Dunstaple ever served the Church in any clerical capacity he was a composer of largely sacred music. Dunstaple was a well-educated man, especially in astronomy, astrology and mathematics. He was also richly propertied in multiple locations. He may have served for a period in France for John of Lancaster, then the Governor of Normandy from 1429 to 1435. He also found patronage in the dowager, Queen Joan, then the Duke of Gloucester in 1437. Albeit Dunstaple's output was prodigious, and his prestige on the continent huge, the ravages of history have left only about fifty extant works by him. Dunstaple died in 1457.

John Dunstaple   1415 - 1457

Beata Mater a 3 Voci

   Nesciens Mater

   Specialis Virgo

      The Orlando Consort

   Quam Pulcra Es

      The Hilliard Ensemble

   Salve Regina Misericordiae

      The Hilliard Ensemble

   Salve Scema Sanctitatis

      Collegium Aureum & the Pro Cantione Antiqua

   Sancta Maria

   Veni Sancte Spiritus/Veni Creator

      The Hilliard Ensemble

Birth of Classical Music: Guillaume DuFay w Gilles Binchois

Guillaume DuFay w Gilles Binchois

Source: Wikipedia

Birth of Classical Music: Francesco Landini


Origin of the Burgundian School which would soon expand north into the greater Franco-Flemish School.
Born in Beersel near Brussels (Belgium) about 1397, Guillaume Dufay was the illegitimate son of an unknown priest. DuFay spent his entire life from childhood onward in Cambrai in northern France, minus extended periods of travel. At only age sixteen he was made chaplain at St. Géry by benefice. In about 1420 he found patronage with the Malatesta family in Rimini. By hook and crook he had become a priest in Bologna by 1428, the same year he went to Rome to become a member and master in the Papal Choir. About 1437 he returned (yet again) to Cambrai, where some time between then and 1446 he took a law degree. DuFay also found patronage with the Este family in Ferrara during the thirties. During the forties he entered into the service of the Duke of Burgundy, becoming a canon in Mons in 1446 as well. By the time of his passing in 1447 DuFay had become the most influential composer in Europe during that early Renaissance period.

Guillaume DuFay    1430 - 1474

   Adieu ces bons vins de Lannoys

   Ave Maris Stella

      Ensemble: Pomerium

   Flos Florum

      Vokalensemble Pro Musica & the Instrumental Ensemble

   J'ai mis mon cuer

      Ensemble Unicorn

   Magnificat 1 & 2

      La Capella Reial De Catalunya

   Miserere Nostri/Vexilla Regis

   Missa L'Homme Armé

      Oxford Camerata

   Nuper Rosarum Flores

      Capella Antiqua München

   Se la face ay pale, la cause est amer

      Studio der Frühen Musik

   Vergine Bella

      Mignarda & Ron Andrico

  Born about 1400 in Netherlands, Gilles Binchois (Gilles de Binch) was among the earliest members of the Burgundian School in France, Burgundy among the prime places in Europe to be at the time to secure patronage in the arts. The Burgundian School was the early phase of the greater Franco-Flemish School out of which the Renaissance occurred. Records find Binchois' earliest activity to be that of a church organist in Mons in 1419. He is thought to have served as a soldier until joining the court chapel of Burgundy and there becoming a singer (among 18 others employed by the court). The majority of Binchois' songs were rondeaux concerning chivalry and love. Long years of service to the Burgundian court enabled Binchois to eventually retire in Soignies on a nice pension. He died in 1460.

Gilles Binchois   1430 - 1460

   Adieu, adieu, mon joileux souvenir

      Lena Susanne Norin, Randall Cook & Susanne Ansorg

Amours Mercy

      Ensemble Gilles Binchois/Dominique Vellard

Gloria, laus et honor

      Ensemble Gilles Binchois/Dominique Vellard

Les tres doulx yeux

      Ensemble Graindelavoix/Björn Schmelzer

Mon Cuer Chante

      Clemencic Consort/Réne Clemencic

Triste plaisir et douleureuse joye

      Lena Susanne Norin, Randall Cook & Susanne Ansorg

Vostre tres doulx regart

      Ensemble Gilles Binchois/Dominique Vellard

Birth of Classical Music: Gilles Binchois

Gilles Binchois

Source: Wikipedia
  Born circa 1410 (perhaps as late as 1430) in Belgium, Johannes Ockeghem was a composer of the Franco-Flemish School, being the greater expansion of the Burgundian School, and largely out of which the musical Renaissance occurred. Like many medieval composers, Ockeghem likely began his career as either a choir singer or choirmaster. The first record of his employment dates from 1433, in which he is a singer in the choir of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe cathedral in Antwerp. Though likely under the direction of composer, Johannes Pullois (Pullois' first employment at the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe cathedral that same year), Ockeghem would eventually come to greater renown than his choirmaster. Ockeghem worked for both Church (as a treasurer for a time) and Court. He began in the latter capacity in 1446 as a singer for Charles I, Duke of Bourbon. Ockeghem also served King Charles VII and King Louis XI (nor only as a musician, known to have traveled to Spain in 1470 on a diplomatic mission). Also a music teacher, Ockeghem held posts at Notre Dame and St. Benoit. Extant works by Ockeghem barely exceed forty. Though history has buried some, he either wasn't possessed with demon to compose or his career, concerning which not much is known, demanded other activity. He nevertheless came to rather great prestige before his death in Tours, France, in 1497.

Johannes Ockeghem   1440 - 1497

   Deo Gratias

      Huelgas Ensemble

  Déploration sur la mort de Binchois

      Graindelavoix/Björn Schmelzer

  Ma Maitresse

      Capilla Flamenca

  Missa: Au Travail Suis

      The Tallis Scholars

  Missa: L'Homme Armé

      Ensemble Voix Fort Cleres

  Missa: Prolationum (Ordinary of the Mass)

      Cappella Nova

  Quant de vous seul je pers la veue

      Ferrara Ensemble

  Qu'es mi vida, preguntais

      La Capella Reial de Cataluny

  Requiem Aeternam

      The Hilliard Ensemble

  Salve Regina

Birth of Classical Music: Johannes Ockeghem

Johannes Ockeghem

Source: Wikipedia
  Born circa 1430 in the Netherlands, perhaps Pas-de-Calais in northern France, like Binchois above, Antoine Busnois was a composer of the Burgundian School. Though he wrote motets and sacred music, such as masses and magnificats, the larger portion of his work consists of secular chansons (songs), mainly rondeaux and some bergerettes (rustic French songs, long since among the four "fixed forms" along with ballades, virilais and rondeaux). Busnois was an aristocrat who by 1461 had become a chaplain in Tours, then a subdeacon in 1465. He next taught music for about a year in Poitiers before entering into the service of Duke Charles the Bold in Burgundy. Busnois served Charles not only at court but on military expeditions as well, surviving the Battle of Nancy in which Charles was killed and Burgundy permanently humbled in 1477. Busnois continued with the Burgundian Court until 1482, the remaining ten years of his life unknown.

Antoine Busnois   1460 - 1492


   Amours nous traitte honnestement

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

   Anima mea liquefacta est

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

   Anthoni usque limina

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

   A Vous sans autre

      Ernst Stolz

   Fortuna Desperata

      Pizzazz Handbell Trio

   Gaude Caelestis Domina

      The Orlando Consort

   Je ne puis vivre ainsi


Birth of Classical Music: Manuscript by Busnois 

Manuscript of Busnois' Missa, O Crux Lignum

Source: Wikipedia
Birth of Classical Music: Manuscript by Compere

Score to Compère's Omnium Bonorum Plena

Source: Wikipedia
Born circa 1445, possibly in Belgium, Loyset Compère was among the many Franco-Flemish (Netherlandish) composers who helped occasion the Renaissance in music. Educated in the Burgundian style, Compère composed largely chansons and motets. His earliest known employment was in the seventies at the chapel of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza in Milan. Upon the murder of Duke Sforza in 1476 Compère returned to France, eventually entering into the service of King Charles VIII. During the latter couple decades of Compère's life he served the French court while also in the employment of the Church at Cambrai, Douai and finally, Saint-Quentin, where he died in 1518.

Loyset Compère   1475 - 1518

   Alons Fere Nos Barbes

      The Orlando Consort

   Ave Maria

      Joli Cuer

   Crux Triumphans

      Ensemble Cantus Figuratus

   Gaude Prole Regio (Rejoice, Pearls of Virgins)

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

   Le grand désir d'aymer me tient

      Le Banquet du Roy

   Je suis amie du fourrier

      Capella Sancti Michaelis


      Capella Sancti Michaelis

   Missa Galeazescha: Ad Elevationem

      Ensemble Pian & Forte with Gabriele Cassone

   Missa Galeazescha: Virginis Mariae Laudis

      Director: Paolo Da Col

   Nous sommes de l'ordre de Saint Babouyn

      Ensemble Clément Janequin/Dominique Visse

   Omnium Bonorum Plena

      Orlando Consort

   Scaramella fa la galla

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

   Vous me faites morir

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

Birth of Classical Music: Burgundian Court of Charles the Bold 

Burgundian Court of Charles the Bold

Spring of the Franco-Flemish School

Source: SUNY Oneonta
Born circa 1445 in Belgium, Hayne van Ghizeghem was a Burgundian School composer assigned to a music teacher by Count Charles (later the Bold). The earliest employment records find him under Charles in 1467 as a singer, as well as valet. Van Ghizeghem served Charles not only as a composer, but as a soldier by 1465 as well. He was once thought to have been killed in battle at the Siege of Beauvais in 1472. But he is now thought to have lived as late as 1497. Van Ghizeghem apparently had much else to do in the service of warring Charles. There are only perhaps twenty works attributable to him, of which only eleven are fairly certain. Like other composers and poets of his century, the rondeau was Van Ghizeghem's favored discipline in the simple chansons he composed.

Hayne van Ghizeghem   1467 - 1497

De touts biens plaine

      Hespèrion XX/Jordi Savall

   Gentilz Galans

      Asteria (Sylvia Rhyne & Eric Redlinger)

   Amors Amors

      Jan DeGaetani

Birth of Classical Music: Musical Score by Agricola 

Score of Agricola's Fortem Virili

Source: Wikipedia
Born Alexander Ackerman in Ghent, Belgium, in 1445 or '46, Alexander Agricola was a composer of sacred and secular music of the Franco-Flemish school. Earliest records discover him a singer for Duke Sforza in Milan, Italy, in 1471. He is thought to have been hired by Lorenzo de' Medici in 1474. From that time onward little is known about Agricola but that he divided his time between France, Naples and the Low Countries (Belgium, Netherlands) such that by the last decade of the century he was a composer in demand throughout Europe. Writing largely masses, motets and secular chansons, during his latter years Agricola served under Phillip, Duke of Burgundy and King of Castile. He died of bubonic plague in 1506.

Alexander Agricola   1475 - 1506

Adieu M'Amour

      Unicorn Ensemble

  A laa Mignonnede Fortunee

     Unicorn Ensemble

  Ay Je Rien Fet

  Cecusnonn judicatdee coloribus


  Dee tous bien plaine

     Capella Sancti Michaelis

  Fortunaa Desperata


  Et Qui laa Dira

      Unicorn Ensemble

  L'Eure Est Venue

  Inn MijnenSin (To My Delight))

      The Egidius Quartet

  Jee n'ay deuil



      Capella Sancti Michaelis

  Soit Loing Ou Pres

  Born in Flanders in 1450, Heinrich Isaac adds yet more emphasis to the great significance of the Dutch (Netherlandish, Franco-Flemish) to the Renaissance of music in Europe. Isaac composed masses, motets, instrumentals and songs in multiple languages. His earliest known employment isn't until 1484 as a singer for Duke Sigismund of Austria. The next year finds him in Florence, where he sang at the church of Santa Maria del Fiore and Santissima Annunziata. He also worked for Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence. Isaac is thought to have performed at the coronation of Pope Alexander VI in 1492. In 1497 he secured appointment as court composer for Emperor Maximilian I in Vienna. He remained in the service of Maximilian until his death in 1517, while also traveling variously about northern Europe and Italy, finally settling in Florence. Upon his passing he left several hundred compositions, mostly motets, being among the most prolific composers of the Renaissance. Isaac is also distinguished from other composers of his period due to his influence in Germany via the Hapsburgs, occasioned by his employment in Austria.

Heinrich Isaac   1470 - 1517

Alla Battaglia

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

  Fortuna Desperata

      Jordi Savall

  Der Hund, Tre Fontane

      Recorders: Julie Braná, Jakub Kydlíček & Marek Špelina

  Et qui la dira

      Ernst Stolz

  Missa de Apostolis: Gloria

      The Tallis Scholars

  Missa de Apostolis: Kyrie

      The Tallis Scholars

  Las Rauschen

      Ensemble Villanella

  Tota Pulchra Es

      The Tallis Scholars

  Innsbruck, Ich muss dich lassen

      The Capilla Flamenca

  Resurrexi: Introitus

      The Ensemble Versus

  Rorate, caeli

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

  Un dì lieto giammai

  Virgo Pridentissima 1-2

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

Birth of Classical Music: Heinrich Isaac

Heinrich Isaac

Source: Arkiv Music
  Born Josquin Lebloitte in 1450 (perhaps '55) in the Duchy of Burgundy (modern Belgium), like many composers of the Renaissance, Josquin des Prez was of the Franco-Flemish school. ("Des Prez" was likely a nickname.) With well over 300 works attributable to him, Josquin (as often called) composed both sacred and secular music, largely masses, motets and secular chansons. He was greatly popular at his time and highly significant in the development of classical music. Prez is thought to have begun his career in music as a choirboy in Saint-Quentin about 1460. He may have studied counterpoint under Ockeghem above. By 1477 Josquin was a singer for the Duke of Anjou at his chapel in René. Perhaps as early as 1480 Josquin had acquired the patronage of the Sforza family, likely in Ferrara, Italy, then Milan. From 1489 to 1495 Josquin was a member of the papal choir in Rome. He likely left the Sforza family in Milan in 1499, returning to France upon the invasion of northern Italy by Louis XII that year, imprisoning his Sforza patrons. (Church reformer, Girolamo Savonarola, whom Josquin admired, had been burned at the stake in Florence the year prior in 1498.) Entering into the service of Louis XII until 1503, Josquin then found employment at the chapel of Duke Ercole I of Ferrara. But as the plague was there erasing lives again, he left the same year for Condé-sur-l'Escaut at the border of Belgium and France. He there spent at least some portion of the last couple decades of his life as a choirmaster and provost. 'Pater Noster' may have been his last composition before his passing in 1521.

Josquin des Prez   1475 - 1521

Ave Maria

      La Chapelle Royale/Philippe Herreweghe

  El Grillo

      David Feldman/Eitan Drori/David Nortman/Elam Rotem

  Mille Regretz

      The Scholars of London

  Miserere Mei Deus

      The Hilliard Ensemble

  Missa: Pange Lingua

      Tallis Scholars

  Nymphes des Bois

      Cappella Pratensis

  Pater Noster

      The Hilliard Ensemble

  Qui Habitat

      Huelgas Ensemble

  Stabat Mater Dolorosa

      La Chapelle Royale/Philippe Herreweghe

Birth of Classical Music: Josquin des Prez

Josquin des Prez

Source: HOASM

  Born in 1457 or '58 in Ghent, Belgium, Jacob Obrecht's father was employed as a city trumpeter. Of the Dutch (Franco-Flemish) school, he composed largely masses and motets, though did write secular chansons as well. Obrecht worked largely in Flanders until the latter years of his life when, in 1487, he entered into the service of Duke Ercole I d'Este in Ferrara, Italy. Obrecht died in Ferrara in 1505, like Agricola above, of bubonic plague. (The Black Death had ravaged Europe 150 years earlier during the period of Landini and Machaut, arriving from central Asia along the Silk Road. But plague far from disappeared from Europe only because its initial rapid devastation of a third of the world's population [about 150 million of 450 million] had largely run its course by 1360, having finally reached Russia. The Death continued to plague Europe on occasion until the 19th century.)

Jacob Obrecht   1477 - 1505

  Als al de weerelt in vruechden leeft

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

  Ave Maris Stella

      Vox Mousai Women's Choir

  Beata Es, Maria

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

  Meskin Es Hu

      Daniel Mantey

  Mille Quingentis

      The Clerks' Group

  Missa: Caput

      Oxford Camerata

  Missa de Sancto Donatiano: Gloria

      The Cappella Pratensis

  Parce, Domine

      Capella Sancti Michaelis

  Salve Regina

Birth of Classical Music: Jacob Obrecht 

Jacob Obrecht

Source: HOASM
Birth of Classical Music: Jean Mouton

Jean Mouton
Born Jean de Hollingue circa 1459 near Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France, Jean Mouton's first employment is thought to be at the collegiate church in Saint Omer as both a singer and a teacher. In 1477 he went to Nesle where he was made choirmaster in 1483, also becoming a priest about that time. By 1501 he was choirmaster at the cathedral in Amiens, then in Grenoble the next near. In 1503 he entered into the service of Queen Ann of Brittany and King Louis XII, with which court he remained the rest of his life. Unlike other Renaissance composers, Mouton traveled little, making only one trip to Italy, probably in latter 1515, to receive an award from Pope Leo X in Bologna for masses and motets Mouton had written. Toward the end of his life he may have assumed Loyset Compère's position as canon in Saint-Quentin upon Compère's death in 1518. Mouton there died in 1522. Unlike some other Renaissance composers, most of Mouton's work is thought to have survived: 9 Magnificats, 15 masses, 20 chansons (secular), and above 100 motets (sacred).

Jean Mouton   1477 - 1522

  Ave Maria Virgo Serena

      Ensemble Didascalie

  Celeste Beneficium (Royal 8 G VII)

      Capilla Flamenca

  En venant de Lyon

  Hodie Christus natus est

      Gregoriana/Jan Mikušek

  Nesciens Mater

      Monteverdi Choir/Gardiner

  Noe, Noe, Psallite Noe

      Ensemble Clément Janequin/Dominique Visse

      The Trio Musica Humana

  Als al de weerelt in vruechden leeft

      Madregalia and the Pastyme Consort

  Salva Nos Domine

      Cappella Nicolai

  Born about 1460 near Chartres, Antoine Brumel was a Franco-Flemish composer thought to have begun his career as a singer at Notre Dame de Chartres. Brumel composed chansons, instrumentals and motets, but he is perhaps best regarded for his masses. (Mass in Latin is "missa". The missa commonly had several parts: the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo and the Agnus Dei and/or Sanctus). From Chartres Brumel moved on to Geneva, then Laon, until becoming choirmaster at Notre Dame de Paris in 1498. Upon Jacob Obrecht's death of plague while in service to Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, Brumel replaced him in 1506. His employment in Ferrara come to a close in 1510, Brumel then worked in churches in Faenza and Mantua, the latter where he likely died in 1512.

Antoine Brumel   1483 - 1512

Dies Irae Dies Illa

      Huelgas Ensemble/Paul Van Nevel

  Gloria in Excelsis Deo

      The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips

  Sicut Lilium

      I Buoni Antichi

  I Pierre de la Rue

      The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips

  Lamentations of Jeremiah

      I Buoni Antichi

  Mater Patris et filia

      The Suspicious Cheese Lords

  Missa: Et Ecce Terrae Motus

      Ensemble Clément Janequin

      Les Sacqueboutiers de Toulouse

  Missa: A l'ombre d'ung buissonet

      Daltrocanto/Dario Tabbia

  Nato Canunt Omnia

      Blue Heron

Birth of Classical Music: Antoine Brumel

Antoine Brummel

Source: El Poder de la Palabra
Birth of Classical Music: Adrian Willaert

Adrian Willaert

Source: HOASM
Born circa 1490 in Rumbeke, Belgium, Adrian Willaert, of the Franco-Flemish school, was founder of the Venetian school of music during the Renaissance. Intending to study law in Paris, he switched to music, then visited Rome about 1515, where the papal choir was already singing one of his songs, thinking it was by Josquin des Prez. Upon informing the choir of its error it sang the song not again. Willaert nevertheless entered into the service of Cardinal Ippolito I d'Este of Ferrara that same year. Upon the cardinal's death he served Duke Alfonso of Ferra until 1525, at which time he went to Milan to work for Ippolito II d'Este. It was in 1527 that Willaert became maestro di cappella of St. Mark's in Venice, a post he retained until his death in 1562. While in that position he developed a reputation such that composers throughout Europe went to Venice to study under him, hence the Venetian School. Willaeert is credited at least in part for the development of the canzone (secular song resembling a madrigal) and ricercar(e) (early form of fugue). But he is perhaps best regarded for his contributions to the madrigal, a form of polyphonic song that became highly popular in the 16th century due much Willaert. (The madrigal gradually replaced the fratolla [simply a secular Italian song] due largely also to one, Pietro Bembo, an author and editor of some prestige who pointed to Petrarch as the ideal.) 'Quando Nascesti Amor', below, is a madrigal. Willaert left behind 8 to 10 masses, above 50 hymns and psalms, more than 150 motets, some 60 French chansons, above 70 madrigals and 17 ricercares. By the time of his passing Willaert had helped transform Venice from a musical backwater into one of the centers of the Renaissance.

Adrian Willaert   1510 - 1562

Lauda Jerusalem

      Currende Choir/Concerto Palatino Ensemble

  Madonna mia famme bon'offerta

      Concerto Scirocco

 Missa: Christus Resurgens

      Choir of St. Ignatius

 O Bene Mio

      Accademia degli Imperfetti

 O Dolce Vita Mia

      The King's Singers

 O Magnum Mysterium

      Cappella Marciana

 Ricercar XIV: Consort Veneto

      Roberto Spinetta

 Vecchie Letrose

      La capella Reial de Catalunya/Hespérion XXI

      Jordi Savall

 Verbum Bonum

      Quire Cleveland/Ross Duffin

  Born in 1495 in Belgium, Nicolas Gombert was another composer of the Franco-Flemish school which had had its beginnings in Burgundy, France, a generation or so earlier. Gombert is supposed to have studied under Josquin des Prez. But little is known of his life as a young man until his hiring by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V as a chapel singer in 1526. Like many musicians in the employ of aristocrats and royals, Gombert likely accompanied Charles V about his territories. As Charles V had started as Charles I of Spain that brought Gombert's influence into the Iberian Penninsula. 1529 finds him "master of the boys" at the royal chapel. During the thirties Gombert became a cleric and priest, eventually receiving benefices at several cathedrals in Belgium and France. Meanwhile serving Charles in the capacity of a musical director, many of Gombert's compositions concerned historical moments in Emperor Charles' reign. It is thought that in 1540 Gombert was sentenced to the galleys for queer behavior with a boy. He was in some manner able to continue composing while serving his term, until pardoned by Charles in 1547. There is no history of Gombert upon acquiring freedom. He is thought to have died between 1556 and 1560, among what's left behind him being some instrumentals, 10 masses, about 140 motets and 70 chansons, a madrigal and, unlike other composers of the Dutch school, a canción (basically Spanish for "song"). Gombert was among the more complex of Renaissance composers, his style simplified by successors.

Nicolas Gombert   1525 - 1560

Ad te levavi oculos meos

      The Laudantes Consort

  In Te Domine Speravi

  Je Prens Congie

  Magnificat Primo Toni

      Stile Antico

  Marian Antiphon

      The Huelgas Ensemble

  Media vita in morte sumus

      The Oxford Camerata

  Mille Regres

      Ensemble Clément Janequin/Dominique Visse

  Missa: Media Vita in Morte Sumus

      The Hilliard Ensemble

  Musea Lovis

      The Laudantes Consort

  Puisqu'ainsi Est

      Ensemble Clément Janequin/Dominique Visse

  Quam Pulchra Es

      The Hilliard Ensemble

  Tulerunt Dominum Meum

      The Oxford Camerata

Birth of Classical Music: 15th Century Recorder

15th Century Recorder

Preceding the birth of Gombert

Source: Recorder
  Unceasing battles between nobles and sovereigns made Christian Europe a difficult place to live. Thomas Tallis faced a dangerous situation of a similar sort, composing for enemy camps on both sides, and living to not tell about it quite comfortably. Born about 1505 in England, Tallis' first employment is thought to have been as an organist at the Benedictine Dover Priory in Kent as of 1532. Likely in 1538 Tallis began working at the Augustinian monastery in Essex, Waltham Abbey. Upon the dissolution of that church in 1540 (a casualty of the anti-Catholic Suppression of the Monasteries by Henry VIII from 1536 to 1541) Tallis headed for Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. In 1543 Tallis was made Gentleman of the Chapel by Henry VIII, after which he composed for a succession of royalty: Edward VI, Queen Mary and, finally, Queen Elizabeth I until his death in Greenwich in 1585. From Queen Mary (Catholic) Tallis received his own manor in Kent. In 1575 Queen Elizabeth (Protestant) granted Tallis and William Byrd exclusive rights to print and publish music, though not without restrictions: they were forbidden to import and print any foreign music (largely to protect English musicians from financially damaging competition), and such as font types were the patent of Tudor royalty only. (Be as may, neither Tallis nor Byrd owned a printing press.) With Tallis songs began to appear in English rather than Latin, as during his career occurred the tug of war between Roman and Anglican liturgy (Queen Mary having been Catholic). Included in Tallis' library are among the first Protestant compositions, including several Lutheran chorales, even as Tillis is supposed to have remained privately Catholic. Albeit Elizabeth granted Tallis and his younger contemporary, William Byrd, exclusive patent on polyphony, Tallis, at least, honored Elizabeth's puritan tastes with simpler compositions. Be as may, 'Why Fum'th in Fight the Gentiles Spite', below, is the basis for 'Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis', first composed in 1910 by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Thomas Tallis   1540 - 1585

Ave Dei Patris Filia

      The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips

  If Ye Love Me

      The Chancel Choir/Scott Dean

  If Ye Love Me

      The Tallis Scholars


      Heinavanker (The Haywain)


      The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips

  Mass for Four Voices

      The Chapelle Du Roi

  Miserere Nostri

      The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips

  The Taverner Choir

      The Taverner Choir

  Why Fum'th in Fight the Gentiles Spite

      The Sixteen Choir

Birth of Classical Music: 16th Century Trumpet

16th Century Trumpet

Contemporaneous with Elizabeth I & Tallis

Source: Tales of E.D. Baker
Birth of Classical Music: The Last Judgement - Michelangelo

The Last Judgement   Michelangelo

Yet fresh paint in the pneuma of Arcadelt

Source: The Telegraph
Born about 1507, likely in Belgium, Jacques Arcadelt (also Jacob) continued the influence of the Franco-Flemish school into Italy. He composed largely secular madrigals and chansons. Earliest history of Arcadelt finds him already in Florence, Italy, as a young man in the twenties. In 1538 he was appointed a singer in the papal choir at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He eventually moved up to the position of magister puerorum at the Sistine Chapel, meeting the remarkable painter, Michelangelo, likely in 1942 (perhaps a year after Michelangelo completed the 'The Last Judgement' on the altar wall of the Sistine). Arcadelt remained at the Chapel until returning to France in 1551. During his latter career he was employed by Cardinal Charles de Guise of Lorraine, King Henry II and King Charles IX. In 1557 Arcadelt published a book of masses, employing a publishing house in Paris. (Johann Gutenberg, inventor of the movable-type printing press, had printed his Latin Bible a century earlier in 1455, contemporaneous with Binchois and Ockeghem above. It didn't take long for mass production to spread throughout Europe from Germany. Did ever a period of intense competition occur in the history of commercial publishing it was at its incipience, such that by Arcadelt's time there was now good money to made in books.) By the time Arcadelt died in 1568 he had left behind some 24 motets, 125 chansons, about 200 madrigals of certain attribution, 3 masses, some Lamentations and a Magnificat. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Jacques Arcadelt   1520 - 1568

Ahime, ahime, dov'è'l bel viso

      The Hillard Ensamble

  Ave Maria

      The Cantabile Choir

  Da bei rami scendea

      The Mirandola Ensemble/Scott Sandersfeld

  Il bianco e dolce cigno


      The Consort of Musicke/Anthony Rooley

  Margot, labourez les vignes


Ensemble D.E.U.M.

   Se la dura durezza


The Hillard Ensamble

  Born in Venice in 1532/33, Andrea Gabrieli greatly increased the contributions of the Venetian school to the Renaissance. He may well have studied under Adrian Willaert at St. Mark's in Venice alike his slightly earlier contemporary, Gioseffo Zarlino. Though most of Gabrieli's works were not published until after his death his influence throughout Europe exceeded that of Zarlino. Among the earliest references to Gabrieli is the publishing of one his madrigals in 1554 in Verona. In 1557 he became an organist in Cannaregio. 1562 found Gabrieli traveling to Frankfurt and Munich to work with Orlande de Lassus. In 1566 Gabrieli became organist at St. Mark's in Venice, a position he held, while teaching, to the end of his life in 1585. Gabrieli succeeded in distinguishing the Venetian school in its own right from the Franco-Flemish school, the latter of which he would studied under Williaert. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Andrea Gabrieli   1554 - 1585

Battaglia à 8

      Symposium Musicum/Miloslav Klement

  Christe à 8

      Gabrieli Consort/Gabrieli Players/Paul McCreesh

  Gloria à 16

      Gabrieli Consort/Gabrieli Players/Paul McCreesh

  Magnificat à 12


  Maria Magdalene

  Missa Brevi: Sanctus

      Cantate Domino

  O Sacrum Convivium à 5


Gabrieli Consort/Gabrieli Players/Paul McCreesh

  Psalmi Davidici

  Ricercar del duodecimo tuono

Ensemble Instrumental de Paris/Hollard Florian

  Sanctus and Benedictus

      'Missa Brevis in F'

Cantores Carmeli/Michael Stenov

  Toccata del nono tono

Organ: M. Raschietti

Birth of Classical Music: Andrea Gabrieli

Andrea Gabrieli

Source: Classical Archives
Birth of Classical Music: Vincenzo Galilei

Vincenzo Galilei

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Born circa 1520 in Tuscany, Italy, Vincenzo Galilei was a music theorist, among the more original composers of his period, in addition to being a talented lute player. As it occurs, he was the father of Galileo Galilei, the astronomer, as well as Michelagnolo Galilei, the composer and lute player. Though Galilei is thought to have played lute from an early age next to nothing else is known about his early life. He is known to have married into an aristocratic family some time before 1562. He was 44 when Galileo was born in 1564, and 55 when Michelagnolo arrived in 1575, Galileo the first of six or seven children. One could think an organ would have drowned the noise better than a lute. It was 1563 when Galilei went to Venice to study with Geoseffo Zarlino. Though Galilei wrote sacred music he was largely a secular composer of madrigals and tunes for lute. He had also involved himself with Greek drama and music, and was a member of the Florentine Camerata, a group of Renaissance intellectuals. Speaking of which, the term, "Renaissance," first came into fairly common use in 1858, coined by French historian, Jules Michelet. The term was engraved for all time in 1860 upon the publication of Jacob Burckhardt's tome, 'The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy'. Be as may, among Galilei's studies in music theory was the physics of string vibration. By the time of Galilei's passing he had made a few transformations in style that would eventually develop into the Baroque, making the Venetian school an essential root to that later period. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Vincenzo Galilei   1563 - 1591

La Caccia


      Valery Sauvage

  Duo tutti di fantasia


      Thierry Meunier & Jean-Marie Poirier

  Contapunto I

      Evangelina Mascardi & Monica Pustilnik

  Contrappunto II


      Dulciana: Paolo Tognon   Liuto: Pier Luigi Polato

  Gagliarda Calliope


      Valery Sauvage


      Roland Keunings

  Born circa 1529 in Montreuil-sur-Mer in northern France, Adrian Le Roy was a string musician who played the cittern, lute, guitar and mandore. (The guitar in its present form largely evolved through early 16th century Spain contemporaneously with Le Roy.) Earliest records of employment find Le Roy with Claude de Clermont, then Jacques II, Baron de Semblançay and Viscount of Tours. He married the daughter of publisher, Jean de Brouilly, in Paris in 1546. Le Roy founded the printing firm, Le Roy & Ballard, in 1551 with Robert Ballard, obtaining the privilege to publish from King Henry II. (Albeit the invention of movable type in Germany by Gutenberg, about 1450, had sparked intense competition by early publishing houses, one couldn't print just as one pleased during the Renaissance, and especially not during the Reformation [1517-1648]. Press was rigidly controlled. The first newspaper, incidentally, wasn't published until 1605 by Johann Carolus in Germany.) With Ballard assuming the business tasks and Le Roy making the editorial decisions, Le Roy and Ballard became the largest and most successful publishing house in France by the seventies and would remain in business into the 19th century. In 1571 Le Roy published his book, 'Airs de cour miz sur le luth' ('Book on Court Tunes for the Luth') which much occasioned the transition from the chanson to the air (du cour) in popular French music. Le Roy also pushed the success of composer, Orlande de Lassus, introducing him to the royal court and publishing his work. Le Roy died in Paris in 1598. The branle, or bransle, as indicated below, was a French dance of the 16th century, hips side to side, oft in a circle or line. ("Branler" in French means to shake.) "Almande" refers to French dance as well, later more familiarly known as the allemande, varied forms of such developing during the two centuries of its popularity, lasting until the waltz largely took its place in the 19th century. (The allemande was a very disciplined formal dance which nevertheless gave rise to the more lively square dance.) More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Adrian Le Roy   1540 - 1598



      Lute: Valery Sauvage

  Almande: La Mon Amy La

      Guitar: Myriam Plante

  Almande: Le Pied de Cheval

      Guitar: Valery Sauvage

  Branle de Bourgongne

      Guitar: Jean-François Delcamp

  Bransle de Champaigne: Alemande du pied de cheval  

      Guitar: Eric Bellocq

  Branle Simple: N'aurez vous point de moy pitié

      Guitar: Daniel

  Fantasies 1-2

      Guitar: Jocelyn Nelson


      Guitar: Jean-François Delcamp


      Guitar: Valery Sauvage

Birth of Classical Music: Adrian Le Roy

Adrain Le Roy

Source: Wikipedia
  Born in 1525 in Palestrina, Italy, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was a pinnacle figure in the musical Renaissance in Italy. He would have been heavily influenced by the Franco-Flemish school during studies as a young musician. But by the end of his career the Roman school would come to exist in its own right. Earliest records find him in Rome singing in the choir at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in 1537. He was an organist from 1544 to 1551 at the cathedral of St. Agapito in Palestrina. Due to a book of masses Palestrina had published, Pope Julius III appointed him maestro di cappella, Julian Chapel, at St. Peter's Basilica in 1551. During the coming years he held similar positions at other chapels and churches in Rome. Returning to Julian Chapel in 1571, Palestrina there remained until his death of pleurisy in 1594. Palestrina was among the more prolific of Renaissance composers. Though he did write a high number of madrigals, he was largely a composer of sacred music. (In an effort to reform the "profane" madrigal, Palestrina also wrote less vulgar "spiritual" madrigals.) Of sacred music, Palestrina left behind at least 105 masses, 68 offertories, 300 motets, 72 hymns, 35 magnificats, 11 litanies and several lamentations.

Giovanni Palestrina   1554 - 1594

Adoramus Te

Crown College Choir/David Donelson

  Alma Redemptoris Mater

Quire Cleveland/Jameson Marvin

  First Book of Madrigals

Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini

  Magnificat IV Toni

I Cantori della Resurrezione/Antonio Sanna

  Missa: O Sacrum Convivium: Gloria

Christ Church Cathedral Choir

  Missa: O Sacrum Convivium: Kyrie

Christ Church Cathedral Choir

  Missa: Papae Marcelli

The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips

  O Magnum Mysterium

Mainz Chamber Orchestra/Gunter Kehr

  Sicut Cervus

Voices of Ascension/Dennis Keene

  Stabat Mater

Choir of King's College/Sir David Willcocks

  Super Flumina Babylonis

University of Bologna Choir/Enrico Lombardi

Birth of Classical Music: Palestrina

Giovanni Palestrina

Source: Wikipedia
Birth of Classical Music: Claude Le Jeune

Claude Le Jeune

Source: Wikipedia
Conceived in Valenciennes in northern France some time between 1528 and 1530, Claude Le Jeune was educated in the Franco-Flemish school. He was also among the first Protestant composers on the continent (preceded as a Protestant composer by Thomas Tallis in England a generation earlier). First records of Le Jeune find four of his chansons being published in Leuven in 1552. Like Tallis in England, the Reformation found Le Jeune working for both sides of enemy camps. Moving to Paris in 1564, Le Jeune became involved with the Huguenots, a group of reformed Protestants of the Calvinist vein gathering force since the thirties. He nevertheless also involved himself with the Academie de musique et de poésie under Catholic, Jean-Antoine de Baïf, in 1570. Le Jeune was discovered to be the author of an anti-Catholic tract in 1589 and was forced to flee Paris. (A similar composer, Claude Goudimel, had been killed by Catholics during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in Lyon in August of 1572.) Living in La Rochelle, Le Jeune returned to Paris in the nineties to be employed by Huguenot king, Henry IV, where he remained until his death in September 1600. As a theorist, like Vincenzo Galilei, Le Jeune educated himself in ancient Grecian music. His major claim to fame were his secular "Parisian" chansons and airs in the manner of musique mesurée, a style developed to complement vers mesurée, itself a style developed by a group of poets under the leadership of Baif. Those chansons would be among the last of such kind during the Renaissance, as the chanson had begun transitioning toward the air du cour in popular French song in the latter 16th century. Le Jeune's secular works also included 43 Italian madrigals. Le Jeune composed no small amount of sacred music as well, including 347 psalms, 38 sacred chansons, eleven motets and a mass. His last finished work was a book of 36 songs based on the poems of Antoine Chandieu, published posthumously in 1606: 'Octonaires de la vanité et inconstances du monde' ('Eight-line Poems on the Vanity and Inconstancy of the World').

Claude Le Jeune   1550 - 1600

La Guerre (War)

Ensemble Clément Janequin & Dominique Vissee

Je Suis Deshéritée

      Ensemble Clément Janequin & Dominique Vissee

  Une Puce

      Ensemble Clément Janequin and Dominique Vissee

  Qu'est devenu ce bel oeil

      Ensemble Clement Janequin

  Reveci venir du printemps

      Suzie Le Blanc

  Revecy venir du printemps

      University Singers

  Tout ce qui est de plus beau dans les cieux

      Ensemble Clément Janequin & Dominique Vissee

  Born circa 1508 in Verona, Italy, Vincenzo Ruffo became a priest as a young man in 1531. Nine years later he published his first book of music. The next year in 1543 Ruffo was appointed choirmaster at the cathedral in Savona. He is thought to have had to flee the Genoese the next year, however, next showing up in Milan, employed by Governor Alfonso d'Avalos. In 1546 Ruffo returned to Verona where he eventually became director of the Accademia Filarmonica in 1552/53, succeeding composer, Jan Nasco, as leader of that group (humanists, musicians and poets) since its founding in 1543. Though more greatly influenced by the Franco-Flemish school, Ruffo began tailoring his compositions in the Tridentine style upon becoming maestro di cappella at the cathedral in Milan in 1563. The Tridentine style was so called in reference to various decrees by the Council of Trent, a Counter-Reformation measure by the Roman church first convening in 1545. In 1572 Ruffo became choirmaster at the cathedral in Pistoia, a position he would also hold in Milan (again) and Sacile before his passing in 1587.

Vincenzo Ruffo   1536 - 1587

   Adoramus Te, Christe

      Amici Cantores/Stefano Torelli

   Agnus Dei

      Le Poeme Harmonique/Vincent Dumestre


       Le Poeme Harmonique/Vincent Dumestre

   La Disperata

       Trío Intratempo Flautas de Pico

   Fiere Silvestre

       The Cipriano Project

   Dormendo un Giorno


     Harp: Margret Koell   Lute: Luca Pianca

     Portative organ: Guillermo Perez

   La Gamba in Basso e Soprano


      Hespèrion XXI/Jordy Savall


      Le Poeme Harmonique/Vincent Dumestre


      Le Poeme Harmonique/Vincent Dumestre


Birth of Classical Music: Vincenzo Ruffo

Vincenzo Ruffo

Source: Art UK


  Born in Ronse, Flanders, in 1515 or 16, Cipriano de Rore was of the Franco-Flemish school. Speculation has Rore studying music in Naples in 1533 while serving Margaret of Parma before her marriage to Alessandro de' Medici, Duke of Florence, in 1536. Further speculation has him studying under Adrian Willaert in Venice before 1542. Rore's composing began to become of note upon arriving to Brescia that year, publishing his first book of madrigals, followed by two of motets in '44 and '45. In 1546 Rore became maestro di cappella for Duke Ercole II d'Este. The Duke awarded him a benefice (estate) in 1556. In 1558 he visited Munich where his music was liked by Albrecht V of Bavaria. In 1559 Rore made the second of two recent trips to Flanders where his career fell into disarray for a time. In 1560 Rore began working in Parma, but is said to have been frustrated there. He finally managed to acquire a position he thought he could live with in 1563, as organist at St. Mark's Basilica in Venice upon Adrian Willaert's death. But he left the next year, perhaps for insufficient pay. Howsoever, Rore ended up in Parma again, only to die the next year (1565) not yet fifty years old. Rore had written both sacred and secular music, largely motets (more than fifty) and madrigals (above one hundred). Rore was one of the more popular Renaissance composers due wide dissemination of his published works.

Cipriano de Rore   1535 - 1565

Ancor che col partire

      Soprano: Roberta Invernizzi

Da Pacem, Domine


      Royal Wind Music

Descendi in hortum meum

      Quire Cleveland/Ross Duffin

Io canterei d'amor

      Capella Silentium

Mia benigna fortuna

      Huelgas-Ensemble/Paul Van Nevel

Missa: Praeter rerum seriem

      Huelgas-Ensemble/Paul Van Nevel

Mon petit coeur

      Huelgas-Ensemble/Paul Van Nevel

Parce Mihi Domine

      Contrapunctus/David Acres

Qual donna

      Christ Church Cathedral Choir

Birth of Classical Music: Cypriano de Rore

Cypriano de Rore

Source: Classical Music in Concert
  Born between 1514 and 1520  in Besançon in eastern France near Switzerland, Claude Goudimel. Earliest details about his life find him a student at the University of Paris in 1549, also publishing a book of chansons that year. By 1555 Goudimel had entered into the publishing trade with Nicolas Du Chemin, a printer. Like other composers of the era, Goudimel was born into the lengthy war that was the Reformation. But his fate was not so sweet as other composers who could sit à cheval. In 1557 Goudimel went to Metz and became a Protestant, involving himself with the Huguenot reform movement there. Metz, however, was a Catholic town, so Goudimel returned to the less hostile environment of Besançon. His fateful decision was leaving there to be in Lyon in 1572. The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in August that year, largely in Paris but other provinces as well, ended in the slaughter of some ten to thirty thousand Protestants, Goudimel one of them. He had been a composer of both secular chansons and sacred masses and motets. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition (credit to Ernst Stolz).

Claude Goudimel   1543 - 1572

The Genevan Psalter: Psalm 2


      Ernst Stolz

The Genevan Psalter: Psalm 8


      Ernst Stolz

The Genevan Psalter: Psalm 51


      Ernst Stolz

The Genevan Psalter: Psalm 52


      Ernst Stolz

The Genevan Psalter: Psalm 68


      Ernst Stolz

The Genevan Psalter: Psalm 71


      Ernst Stolz

The Genevan Psalter: Psalm 72


      Ernst Stolz

The Genevan Psalter: Psalm 73


      Ernst Stolz

The Genevan Psalter: Psalm 110


      Ernst Stolz

The Genevan Psalter: Psalm 145


      Ernst Stolz
Il me semble que la journée

      La Chorale de Laclef des Champs/Benjamin Vinit

Birth of Classical Music: Claude Goudimel 

Claude Goudimel

Source: Practica Poetica
Birth of Classical Music: Guillaume Costeley

Guillaume Costeley

Source: Wikipedia
Born in the province of Auvergne in southern central France in 1530/31, Guillaume Costeley had arrived in Paris by 1554 to study music theory. He began making himself known by the late fifties, Le Roy and Ballard publishing a book authored by him in 1559. From there he became organist at the royal court of King Charles IX about 1566, as well as music teacher to the ten year-old monarch. In 1570 Costeley published 'Musique de Guillaume Costeley', containing the majority of his surviving oeuvre. Costeley was a founding member of the Académie de poésie et de musique, an important Renaissance salon, founded by Jean-Antoine de Baïf, which interest was to resurrect Grecian studies and styles. Such the intellectual assembly became the first of successive French academies surviving into the 20th century. Among those composers unmarked by the Reformation, Costeley was eventually well rewarded for his services to Catholic sympathizer, Charles IX. As there are no records of compositions by him following 1570 he may have retired from music altogether upon moving to Évreux. That is, Charles required his services only the initial three months of the year, leaving him free the remainder. (Nice job if you can get it.) He was employed as a tax assessor in 1581, and documents show him a wealthy property owner. 1597 found Costeley in the rather enviable position of Conseiller du Roy (Advisor to the King), which he held until his passing in 1606. Costeley had composed very little sacred music, his brief career of fifteen years resulting in some hundred secular chansons. Thanks to Roger Wibberley below, a keyboard version of 'Seigneur Dieu ta Pitié' can be heard, meriting a word as to the harpsichord, an instrument of no small significance during the Renaissance. The oldest specimen of a complete harpsichord dates to 1521 in Italy, about ten years before Costeley's birth. To the right is a Flemish harpsichord circa 1600, six years before Costeley's death.

Guillaume Costeley   1554 - 1569

  Allon Gay Gay Bergeres

      Guitar: Jon Sayles

  The Stairwell Carollers

      The Stairwell Carollers

  Mignonne, allons voir si la rose

      The Young Friends of Music Choir/Ugrin Gábor

  La Prise du Havre

      La Menestraudie

  Seigneur Dieu ta Pitié

      Keyboard: Roger Wibberley

  Las, je n'irai plus jouer au boys

      La Ménestraudie

Birth of Classical Music: Flemish Renaissance Harpsichord

Flemish Harpsichord   Circa 1600

Source: Wikipedia
Probably born in 1532 in Mons, which would be modern-day Belgium, Orlande de Lassus (Lasso) takes one to the pinnacle of the Franco-Flemish Renaissance in music. Lassus began traveling about Italy at age twelve. His first known employment was as a singer for Costantino Castrioto in Naples. He next worked for Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in Rome. In 1553 Lassus became maestro di cappella of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, leaving a year later. He began publishing his works in 1555 in Antwerp. In 1556 he obtained appointment to the court of Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria, in Munich. By the sixties Lassus' fame had spread such that he began to teach. He entered the seventies by receiving noble rank from Emperor Maximilian II in 1570. Pope Gregory XIII knighted him as well. While working in Munich he made several visits to Italy, most notably to the House of Este in Ferrara. His last finished work was a set of twenty-one madrigali spirituali: 'Lagrime di San Pietro' ('Tears of St. Peter'), published posthumously in 1595, for Lassus died in 1594 in Munich. He hadn't seen the letter which arrived the same day, dismissing him from employment to the royal court for financial reasons. Lassus left behind more than 2000 compositions, including 530 motets, 175 Italian madrigals and villanellas, 150 French chansons, and 90 German lieder. (The villanella was a form of popular song in the latter 16th century arising out of Naples. "Lied" is simply "song" in German.) Working largely in Catholic strongholds, Lassus' career remained unaffected by the Reformation until his later years. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Orlande de Lassus   1550 - 1594

  De Profundis Clamavi

      Christ Church Catherdral Choir

  Il Magnanimo Pietro

      Ensemble Vocal Européen/Philippe Herreweghe


      Ensemble Vocal Européen/Philippe Herreweghe

      Album: 'Lassus: Hieremiae prophetae lamentationes'

  Matona, Mia Cara


      Hilliard Ensemble

  Missa Pro Defunctis

      The Collegium Regale/Stephen Cleobury

  Osculetur Me Osculo


      Tallis Scholars


      Collegium Vocale Gent/Philippe Herreweghe
      Album: 'Lassus: Psalmi Davidis poenitentiales'

  Susanne un Jour

      Soprano: Arianna Savall

  Tristis est anima mea


      Regensburger Domspatzen/Roland Büchner

Birth of Classical Music: Orlande de Lassus

Orlande de Lassus

Source: Music Timeline
Birth of Classical Music: St. Mark's Basilica

St. Mark's Basilica

Big Dog of the Venetian Renaissance

Source: Best Tourism
We pick up Claudio Merulo's career, born in 1533 in Corregio in northern Italy, upon his first association with St. Mark's Basilica in Venice as a young man. He likely studied under Gioseffo Zarlino there. He was appointed an organist at Old Cathedral in Brescia in 1556, and worked there simultaneously with his appointment as organist at St. Mark's a year later as well. Merulo eventually rose to such status as to compose the music in celebration of French King Henry VIII's visit to Venice in 1574. In 1584 Merulo exchanged Venice for Parma, working at Parma Cathedral, as well as the Church of Santa Maria della Steccata. Though Merulo made trips to Venice and Rome he remained in Parma until his death in 1604. Taught during a period when the Venetian school had quite distinguished itself from the Franco-Flemish, Merulo's forté was his toccatas, especially for keyboard, permitting virtuosic instrumentals (solemn as some sound). He also composed canzonas, descended from the Franco-Flemish chanson. Merulo otherwise composed largely motets, and published four books of madrigals in 1566, 1579, 1580 and 1604. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Claudio Merulo   1550 - 1604

Canzon à 4 dita: La Zambeccara


      Clavicembalo: Marco Vincenzi

  Canzona vigesimaterza

      Ernst Stolz

Missa: Kyrie: in dominicis diebus

      Organ: Massimiliano Raschietti

  Missa: Kyrie: virginis Mariae

     Die Choralschola St. Joseph-Weinhaus

  O Crux Benedicta


      Quoniam Ensemble

  Sanctus a 12 voci

      Cantar Lontano/Marco Mencoboni

  Toccata: prima


      Organ: Stefano Molardi

  Toccata: quarta del sesto tono


      Organ: Massimiliano Raschietti

  Toccata: quinta del secondo tono


      Organ: Massimiliano Raschietti

Birth of Classical Music: Orlande de Lassus

Claudio Merulo

Painting: Annibale Carracci

Source: All Music
  Born in 1535 or 36 in Verona, Italy, though Marc'Antonio Ingegneri wasn't a major composer in comparison to some, he was the teacher of Claudio Monteverdi at the height of the Renaissance. Thought to have been a fellow student of contemporary, Cypriano de Rore, in Parma, he likely studied under Vincenzo Ruffo in Verona as well. Circa 1570 found Ingegneri composing in Cremona, probably working as an organist and string player too. Ingegneri became maestro di cappella of the cathedral in Cremona in 1581, where he would soon be teaching music to Claudio Monteverdi. Though he spent the remainder of life in Cremona in northern Italy, Ingegneri has generally been identified with the Roman school. By the time of his death in 1592 he left behind a couple books of masses, three books of motets from among others thought lost and eight volumes of madrigals. 

Marc'Antonio Ingegneri    1565 - 1592

   O Bone Jesu


     Choir of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

      Michael T. Kevane

   Responsoria hebdomadae sanctae

      Animam meam dilectam   1588

     Cori e Cappella Mauriziana/Mario Valsecchi

   Responsoria hebdomadae sanctae

      Caligaverunt oculi mei   1588

     Cori e Cappella Mauriziana/Mario Valsecchi

   Responsoria hebdomadae sanctae

       Vinea mea electa   1588

     Cori e Cappella Mauriziana/Mario Valsecchi

   Responsori della Settimana Santa

      Amicus Meus   1588

     Il Coro Sicardo di Cremona/Fulvio Rampi

   Responsori della Settimana Santa

      Velum Templi   1588

     Il Coro Sicardo di Cremona/Fulvio Rampi

   Tenebrae Factae Sunt

      Le Choeur de May/Nicolas Wyssmueller



Birth of Classical Music: William Byrd

William Byrd

Source: Markdavin Obenza

Alternative: Kubernesis
Born 1540 to 1543 in London, William Byrd, of status gentlemanly, continues the Renaissance in music in England. Though Byrd wrote a good number of secular tunes he preferred composing spiritual music. He very likely studied under Thomas Tallis as a young man. Like Tallis, indeed, to a great portion with Tallis, Byrd would weather the storm between the Anglican and Roman churches in England during the Reformation and emerge not only undamaged but financially secure. His first known employment was in 1563 as organist and choirmaster at Lincoln Cathedral, Church of England (tallest building in the world for more than two hundred years since its erection about 1311). He was eventually paid to compose for that cathedral as well. In 1572 Byrd was appointed Gentleman of the Chapel Royal by Queen Elizabeth I. In 1575 Byrd and Tallis were granted a monopolistic printing patent of 21 years by the Crown (largely to prevent foreign influence on English music, Catholic and otherwise). The pair then jointly published 'Cantiones que ab argumento sacrae vocantur'. Upon the financial failure of the book, Elizabeth I compensated the duo with land leases. Nice way to publish if you can find it. Byrd is thought to have become a Catholic in the seventies, which began to become dangerous to him in the eighties. In 1583 he was temporarily suspended from the Royal Chapel, his movements restricted and his house searched for evidence of complicity in the failed Throckmorton Plot to assassinate Elizabeth. Cleared of suspicion, Byrd emerged to publish several books: 'Psalms, Sonnets and Songs of Sadness and Pietie' (1588), 'Songs of Sundrie Natures' (1589) and two books of sacred cantiones in 1589 and 1591. Also in 1591 'My Ladye Nevells Booke' was published, not by Byrd though likely in association with him, featuring 42 of his keyboard pieces. In 1594 Byrd moved to Stondon Massey in Essex, likely in semi-retirement, and likely attending Catholic Masses in secret. Byrd is known, instead, to have been fined for recusancy during this period (not attending Anglican services). What Byrd reveals about the Reformation in England under the Tudors is that it was all right for a select few to be Catholic so long as such was kept mum and one stayed clear of violence. One also learns that one can write Catholic motets, call them Anglican, and no one may ever know the difference. In 1605 and 1607 Byrd published Books I and II of the 'Gradualia', consisting of sacred motets. In 1611 his 'Psalms, Songs and Sonnets' appeared. Byrd's last published works appeared in 1614, four of his anthems appearing in William Leighton's 'Teares or Lamentacions of a Sorrowfull Soule'. Byrd died fairly well-off as mammon went at the time, having rooms at the home of the Earl of Worcester. The year was 1623, Byrd's passing noted in the register of the Royal Chapel with "a Father of Musick" appended. Byrd's compositions number about 470 in all. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

William Byrd   1555 - 1623

  Ave Verum Corpus


      The Tallis Scholars

  The Battell


      Philip Jones Brass Ensemble/Elgar Howarth

  Justorum Animae


      Worcester Cathedral Choir



      The Tallis Scholars

  Mass for Five Voices


      The Tallis Scholars

  Mass for Four Voices


      The King's Singers

  Sing Joyfully

      Choir of Clare College/Cambridge

  Songs of Sundrie Natures


      Hilliard Ensemble & the London Baroque/Paul Hillier

  Tristitia et Anxietas

      The Tallis Scholars


      The Tallis Scholars

  Born in 1545 in Ferrara, Italy, Luzzasco Luzzaschi was a pupil of Cipriano de Rore. In 1564 he was appointed organist to the House of Este. Luzzaschi was highly regarded for his madrigals and keyboard abilities. He also worked with the Concerto delle donne, a female ensemble formed by Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara, which duty it was to perform for exclusive audiences. Though employed to sing they were usually hired as ladies-in-waiting. What survives of Luzzaschi's canon is seven books published between 1571 ('Il primo libro de madrigali a cinque voci') and 1604. Luzzaschi died in 1607 in Ferrara.

Luzzasco Luzzaschi   1565 -1607

  Cor mio, deh non languire, Dosso Dossi

      The Consort of Musicke

  Lungi da te cor mio


      RossoPorpora Ensemble

  Toccata del quarto tuono

      Organista: Lorenzo Antinori

  T'amo mia vita, Dosso Dossi

      The Consort of Musicke

  O Primavera

      Salome Sandoval

  We return to the musical Renaissance in Spain with Tomás Luis de Victoria, born in the province of Ávila about 1548. The seventh of nine brats, Victoria likely studied keyboard as a child, having also been a choirboy. Amidst the earliest knowledge of him, Victoria was funded in 1565 with a grant from King Phillip II to travel to Rome and become a cantor at the Collegium Germanicum founded in 1552 by Pope Julius III, Cardinal Giovanni Morone and St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556). He was employed at the Pontifical Roman Seminary during that period as well. Phillip II would employ Victoria as a composer en absentia in Italy until Victoria's return to Spain 22 years later. He published his first book of motets in 1572. In 1587 Victoria returned to Spain to become chaplain to dowager Holy Roman Empress, Maria of Austria. Victoria served the Empress at the Convent of Las Descalzas Reales in Madrid until her death in 1603, after which he there accepted a position as organist until his own passing in 1611. As a contemporary of Palestrina in Italy, Victoria contributed to the development of the Roman school (as distinguished from the earlier Franco-Flemish), which he then took to Spain to merge with the earlier Franco-Flemish influence there. He fairly represents the high to late Renaissance in music in southern Europe. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Tomás Luis de Victoria   1570 - 1611

  Magnificat Primi Toni

      Ensemble Plus Ultra/Michael Noone

  Misa O quam Gloriosum

  Missa: Alma redemptoris Mater a 8


  Missa: Salve Regina

      The Sixteen/Harry Christophers

  O Magnum Mysterium

      L'Académie Vocale de Paris/Iain Simcock

  O Vos Omnes

      The Tallis Scholars/Peter Phillips

  Salve Regina

      The Sixteen/Harry Christophers


Birth of Classical Music: Tomas Victoria

Tomás Luis de Victoria

Source: Zephyrus
Birth of Classical Music: Luca Marenzio

Luca Marenzio

Source: Los Angeles Master Chorale
Born in 1553/54 near Brescia in northern Italy, Luca Marenzio emphasizes the significance of the Roman school to the musical Renaissance. We pick up his life in 1578 when he goes to Rome to work for Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo as a vocalist. Via whom he came to the notice of the Este family, among the more significant patrons of the Renaissance period. Upon the death of Cardinal Luigi d'Este in 1586 he left Ferrara for Verona where he attended the Accademia Filarmonica, then found employment with Ferdinando I de' Medici in Florence. Returning to Rome in 1589, he acquired the patronage of various until making an important trip in 1595. Thus far on this page we've seen the Renaissance period arise of roots in the Burgundian school expanding into the Franco-Flemish. We've seen that early taken to Italy by such as Alexander Agricola, thereafter the Roman school to develop. We've seen the Franco-Flemish school early enter into Germany via such as Heinrich Isaac. We've seen the Venetian school founded by Franco-Flemish composer, Adrian Willaert. We've witnessed such as Nicolas Gombert taking the Franco-Flemish style to Spain. We've noted the musical Renaissance in full bloom in England with Thomas Tallis and William Byrd from its early roots in John Dunstaple. But Poland (not to mention Russia) was yet largely sitting aside in a snow bank, and with Marenzio the Renaissance was entering its late period. Thus Marenzio's appointment as maestro di cappella at the court of Sigismund III Vasa in Warsaw in 1595 worked to good fortune for all concerned. Marenzio died shortly upon returning to Rome in 1599. Though Marenzio wrote sacred music the madrigal was his bag, completing some 500 of them, published in 23 books that were much celebrated throughout Europe. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Luca Marenzio   1575 - 1599

  Amatemi Ben Mio


      La Gioia/Sigrid Weigl

  Così nel mio parlar voglio esser aspro


  Cruda Amarilli


      La Compagnia del Madrigale

  Crudele acerba inexorabil morte

      La Venexiana   Album: 'Il Nono Libro De Madrigali'

  Dolorosi Martir


      La Compagnia del Madrigale

  O Rex Gloriae

      Coro de Cámara de Madrid/Ana Fernández-Vega

  Madonna, sua mercè, pur una sera


      Tutti Cantabile

  Solo e pensoso i piú deserti campi


      La Venexiana   Album: 'Il Nono Libro De Madrigali'

  Veggo, dolce mio bene


      Veggo, dolce mio bene

  Vezzosi Augelli


      Vezzosi Augelli

  Born in 1551 in Italy, Giulio Caccini was the elder brother of sculptor, Giovanni Caccini, and father to Baroque composer, Francesca Caccini. Giulio studied lute, viol and harp as a child in Rome. Some time during the sixties Grand Duke Francesco de' Medici brought him to Florence to study music there. By 1579 he was employed as a tenor vocalist at the Medici court. During Caccini's years with the Medici family he became involved with the Florentine Camerata, a group of humanists, intellectuals, musicians and poets who oft met at the home of Count Giovanni de' Bardi. Caccini made one trip to Rome as a secretary for the Count in 1592, but otherwise spent most his life in Florence. Among the principle concerns of the Florentine Camerata were ancient Greek drama and music. Another member of that group was the slightly younger contemporary of Caccini's, Jacopo Peri, generally credited with having written the first opera, 'Dafne', in 1597. Thus below are listed a couple of the first operas written, Caccini and Peri largely collaborating on 'Euridice' and 'Il rapimento di Cefalo', both published in 1600. In 1602 Caccini published another version of 'Euridice' without Peri's assistance, as well as a book of songs and madrigals, 'Le nuove musiche'. In 1614 he published 'Nuove Musiche e nuova maniera di scriverle', another book of songs and madrigals. Caccini died in 1618. As he discovered during his latter brief trip to Rome in 1592, his music was not there disliked. But Palestrina was the big dog with the monopoly on music in Rome. Nor did Caccini's music spread throughout Europe as did Palestrina's, though he was a teacher in great demand. Among his main contributions, however, to the late Renaissance and early cusp of the Baroque was music theory, such as the development of monody in association with the Florentine Camerata (exemplified in 'Le nuove musiche', samples below). More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Giulio Caccini    1570 - 1618

  Amor ch'attendi


      Lute: Chitarra Barocca

      Soprano: Montserrat Figueras

  Ave Maria

      Istanbul State Opera Chamber Choir/Kevork Tavityan


      1600   Opera

      Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini

  Chi mi confort'ahime, chi piu consolami

      1600   Opera

      From: 'Il rapimento di Cefalo'

  Le Nuove Musiche: Amarilli, Mia Bella


      Therobo: Fred Jacobs

      Soprano: Johanette Zomer

  Le Nuove Musiche: Amor, Io Parto


      Guitar: Hopkinson Smith

      Soprano: Montserrat Figueras

Birth of Classical Music: Giulio Caccini

Giulio Caccini

Source: All Music
Birth of Classical Music: Giovanni Gabrieli

Giovanni Gabrieli

Painting: Annibale Carracci

Source: Well-Tempered Ear
Born in Venice between 1554 and 1557, Giovanni Gabrieli continues the Venetian school into the late Renaissance and early Baroque. He was nephew to composer, Andrea Cappeli who may have raised him. He later studied with Orlande de Lassus in Munich where he remained until about 1579. 1584 found Gabrieli in Venice where he became lead organist at Saint Mark's Basilica in 1585. He would remain at Saint Mark's the remainder of his life, as well as at the Church of Saint Roch where he was also principal organist. Among Gabrieli's more illustrious accomplishments was his volume of motets, 'Sacrae Symphoniae', published in 1597 and gaining him his hour of power throughout Europe. About 1606 Gabrieli fell too ill to work, he appointed deputies to execute what he couldn't. Though Gabrieli wrote secular works sacred music was his main thrust. He died in 1612 due to a kidney stone. With Gabrieli we index the first sonata in these histories (under 'Sacra Symphonia'). It is thought the sonata was first called such in 1561 ("sonare" = Italian for "to sound") to distinguish an instrumental piece for lute from a cantata, that is, song. The sonata, however, wouldn't develop into a major vehicle for another eighty to hundred years (via Baroque composers such as Arcangelo Correlli and Johann Kuhnau) when two kinds of it began to appear: the sonata da chiesa (church sonata) and the sonata da camera (chamber sonata). The sonata's first treatment in literature wasn't until 1710, appearing in Brossard's 'Dictionaire de Musique' that year. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Giovanni Gabrieli   1570 - 1612

  Deus qui beatum Marcum Motet à 10


      Ensemble Plus Ultra/Michael Noone

  In Ecclesiis a 14


      Ensemble Plus Ultra/Michael Noone

  Magnificat a 14

      Ensemble Plus Ultra/Michael Noone

  Magnificat a 33

      Ensemble Plus Ultra/Michael Noone

  Sacra Symphonia  

      Sonata pian e forte   1597   C 176

      Bayerische Staatsoper/Zubin Metha

  Born south of Venice in Chioggia in 1557, Giovanni Croce lends emphasis to the Venetian school during the late Renaissance. Croce sang in choirs in both Chioggia and Venice as a boy. In 1585 he was ordained into the clergy. In 1590 he became assistant choirmaster at St. Mark's Basilica beneath composer, Baldassare Donato, assuming the position of maestro di cappella upon Donato's death in 1603. Though not a major composer in comparison to others, Croce's compositions were popularly disseminated throughout much of northern Europe, including England. He passed away in 1609.

Giovanni Croce   1585 - 1609

   Buccinate in Neomenia Tuba


      TMEA All State Choir

   Cantate Domino

     Musica Sacra/Chris Paraskevopoulos

   In Monte Oliveti

        Cantores Carmeli/Michael Stenov

   Laudans Exultet

       Cappella Marciana

   Laetatus Sum (Psalm 121)

       Il Dilettoso Monte Consort Vocale

      Massimo Annoni

   Il Gioco dell'Occa

      1595   From 'Trica Musicale'

      I Fagiolini/Robert Hollingworth

   Missa Sexti Toni: Kyrie

      Trinity Chamber Singers

   O Sacrum Convivium


       Cappella Marciana/Marco Gemmani



  Thomas Morley, a contemporary of Shakespeare, was born in England in 1557. His father a brewer, he may have smelled with beer at the local cathedral where he sang as a boy in Norwich. His career picks up in London in the early seventies where he studied under William Byrd, he apparently employed as a singer in London as well. Morley took a bachelor's degree from Oxford in 1588, soon thereafter becoming an organist at St. Paul's Cathedral back in London. Morley also had his 'Musica Transalpina' published in 1588, a celebrated collection of Italian madrigals. Albeit Morley and Shakespeare lived in the same parish for a time there seems no compelling reason to think that they knew each other. In addition to madrigals Morley left behind numerous instrumental and consort works. The term "concert" arises from the consort and broken consort, in which Morley was key in developing during the transition from late Renaissance to early Baroque. The consort simply refers to a group of instruments all of the same family. The broken consort refers to a group of instruments consisting of different families, which would later become chamber music at the height of Baroque. Morley's consort pieces are exemplified in 'The First Booke of Consort Lessons' published in 1599, three years before his death in 1602. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Thomas Morley   1580 - 1602

  8 Fantasias for two instruments


      The Early Music Consort of London/David Munrow

  Dances for Broken Consort

      1599   From 'First Booke of Consort Lessons'

  Leave now mine eyes lamenting


      Ernst Stolz

  Now is the Month of Maying


      Cambridge Singers

  Phillis, I fain would die now


      The Clerkes of Oxenford/David Wulstan

  Sing We and Chant It


      The Douglas Frank Chorale


Birth of Classical Music: Thomas Morley

Thomas Morley

Source: Classic Cat
Birth of Classical Music: Carlos Gesualdo

Carlo Gesualdo

Source: Singers
Born in 1566, Carlo Gesualdo (also Gesualdo da Venosa) enjoyed that status which occurs when one's family owns a principality, namely, Verona in southern Italy, since 1560. The Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza, upon his elder brother's death in 1584, was also among the more beloved personalities of the late Renaissance, skilled in composition, lute and murder. Upon discovering his wife of two years in bed with another man in 1588 Gesualdo killed both of them, wife by sword, her lover by gun. Though as a noble Gesualdo was immune from correction, he left Verona for fear of revenge from the families of his victims. In 1594 he arrived in Ferrara to publish his first book of madrigals. A letter indicates that he also composed for the Concerto delle Donne in Ferrara. Founded by Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara, the Concerto delle Donne was a trio of female vocalists popular from 1580 to 1597. Playing instruments as well, among their venues was the court ballet. Ballet preceded opera by at least a hundred years, choreographed dance originating in Italy in the fifteenth century and spreading to France. By the time of Catherine de Médici (1519-1589) ballet was being developed in Russia. (The term "ballet" derives from "ballare" which is Latin for "to dance." It entered into English vernacular about 1630.) Gesualdo returned to the castled town of what is now called Gesualdo (in Avellino) in his honor in 1595. He married into the Este family in 1597, apparently another unhappy relationship. Gesualdo is said to have suffered from depression in his latter years, there indications that feelings of guilt for his earlier murders was rearing its head. Along with keeping a servant whose duty was to beat him "at stool," Gesualdo engaged in unsuccessful search for relics. He died at his castle in Avellino in 1613, having published 'Tenebrae Responsoria', his most highly regarded collection of spiritual madrigals, in 1611. Albeit Gesualdo wasn't a major composer he something represents the latter Renaissance in Italy. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Carlo Gesualdo   1590 -1613

  Ave Dulcissima Maria

      Ensamble Vocal Européen/Philippe Herreweghe

  Gagliarda del Principe di Venosa

      The King's Noyse/David Douglass

  Madrigals: Book 6


      Ensemble Métamorphoses/Maurice Bourbon


      The Hilliard Ensemble

  Música sacra a 5 voces

      Oxford Camerata/Jeremy Summerly

  Tenebrae Responsoria: Omnes amici mei


      La Compagnia del Madrigale

  Tenebrae Responsories for Maundy Thursday


      The King's Singers

  Born circa 1560 in Ferrara, Italy, Ercole Pasquini obtained employment in 1592 at the Benedictine church of Santa Maria in Verona. The following year he published 'I fidi amanti'. Some time before 1597 he succeeded Luzzasco Luzzaschi as organist of the Accademia della Morte in Ferrara, after which he accepted an appointment as organist at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He simultaneously held a similar position at Santo Spirito in Sassia in 1604. In 1608 Pasquini was fired from his bench at St. Peter's for unclear cause, though such may be relevant to the fact that in 1603 others than himself began signing for payments of his salary, including an attendant at a hospital where he was being treated in 1605, together with the notion that he is said to have died insane in 1608. His last composition, 'Jesu decus angelicum', for four voices and organ, was published posthumously. (Others think Pasquini survived until 1619.) Pasquini left behind no great volume of works, some thirty pieces for keyboard and several vocal works his major haul. But those few works have been held in high regard for four centuries now. To the right is a photo of St. Peter's Basilica, where Pasquini held the coveted position of an organist for a brief time. St. Peter's was basically the reconstruction of an earlier basilica built by Emperor Constantine, begun about 325. Its repair began largely during the papacy of Nicholas V (1447-55), gradually being constructed to the time that Pasquini was a young man, when the Egyptian obelisk was erected (1586).

Ercole Pasquini   1590 - 1608

  Ave Dulcissima Maria

      Organ: Vincenzo Ninci


      Organ: Simone Stella

  Toccata 1

      Organ: Amarilli Voltolina

Birth of Classical Music: Carlos Gesualdo

St. Peter's Basilica

Big Dog of the Italian Renaissance

Source: Here I Am Lord
  Born in 1561 in Rome, Jacopo Peri's place in the late Renaissance is established by being credited with writing the first opera, 'Dafne', composed in 1597. (Oddly enough, recordings of 'Defne' are difficult to locate.) His earliest employment as an organist and/or vocalist in a number of churches in Rome, Peri's most prestigious position was with the House of Medici. During the nineties Peri began associating with Jacopo Corsi and the Florentine Camarata in Florence. The Camarata was an influential group of intellectuals who wished to influence drama and music a la ancient Greece. In 1597 Peri, Corsi and poet, Ottavio Rinuccini, collaborated on the creation of 'Dafne'. Three years later Peri produced 'Euridice' and 'Il rapimento di Cefalo' with Giulio Caccini. Though Peri enjoyed some temporary influence during his life, he rather quickly fell out of fashion upon his death in 1633, to remain a minor composer to this day. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

Jacopo Peri   1585 - 1633

  Dafne: Aria: Tu Dormi e L'Dolce Sonno


      Soprano: Ellen Hargis



      Mezzosoprano: Gloria Banditelli

  Hor che gli augelli

      Soprano: Ellen Hargis

  Lamento di Iole

      Soprano: Montserrat Figueras

  O Miei Giorni Fugaci

      Countertenor: Sean Lee   Piano: Chien-Lin Lu

  Se tu parti da me

      Soprano: Ellen Hargis

Birth of Classical Music: Jacobo Peri

Jacopo Peri

Source: Alchetron
Birth of Classical Music: Oxford University: Lincoln College

Lincoln College   Oxford University   1566

Source: Lincoln College
It is thought that late Renaissance composer, John Dowland, was born in London in 1563. We pick up his career in 1580 when he was in the employment of ambassadors to France, taking him to Paris. He there became a Roman Catholic before returning to England in 1584. In 1588 Dowland took his bachelor's degree from Oxford. (If the Cathedral of Notre Dame was of especial importance in the development of medieval music, Oxford University [founded one way or another about 1200 with a music department, while Notre Dame was being built] was among the more prestigious colleges during the Renaissance. To the left is a 1566 drawing by Thomas Neale of Lincoln college, contemporaneous with Dowland and Elizabeth I. He apparently saw farther things nearer and nearer things farther. Literacy was higher in England than on the continent for no small period of time. In 1600 the literacy rate of the common laborer was 90% in England. In 1720 Germany, where movable type had been invented, 4/5 of men still couldn't sign their own name.) Though Dowland published music in London he had difficulty acquiring a court position until Christian IV of Denmark hired him in 1598. in 1612 Dowland was employed as a lute player by James I. He died in 1626 in London. Dowland had written largely consort music and pavanes (dances). Among his more important publications were 'First Book of Songs' in 1597, 'Lachrymae' in 1604 and 'A Pilgrimes Solace' in 1612. He had for a time worked as a spy for Queen Elizabeth I. Though a minor composer, Dowland lent a significant flavor to the late Renaissance in England. The galliard, referred to below, was a European dance. More specific dates below refer to the year of publication if not composition.

John Dowland   1590 - 1626

  Come Again: Sweet Love Doth Now Invite

      Guitar: David Leisner   Tenor: William Ferguson

  Flow My Tears

      Lute: Alfonso Marin   Soprano: Valeria Mignaco

  Galliard: The Earl of Essex




      Lute: Paul O'Dette

  In Darkness Let Me Dwell

      1610?   From 'A Pilgrimes Solace' (published 1612)

      Countertenor: Steven Rickards   Lute: Dorothy Linell

  Lachrimae: Seven in 5 Parts


      Consortium Violae

  Weep You No More Sad Fountains

      From 'Third and Last Booke of Songs'

      Lute: Christopher Wilson   Tenor: Paul Agnew


Birth of Classical Music: John Dowland

John Dowland

Source: Florilegium
  Claudio Monteverdi   See Claudio Monteverdi.

Birth of Classical Music: Michael Praetorius

Michael Praetorius

Source: Classical Net
Born in 1571 in Creuzburg, Germany, Michael Praetorius (Latin for Schultze or Schulz by hook and crook) studied divinity, languages, music and philosophy at the University of Frankfurt. Upon graduation he became organist at the Marienkirche in 1587. He found himself serving the court of Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg possibly as early as 1592. Working first as an organist, he was made Kapellmeister in 1604. (His first compositions appeared perhaps as early as 1602, a collection of motets.) From 1605 to 1610 he published his 'Musae Sioniae'. in 1612 he published 'Terpsichore' (instrumental dances). Upon the death of Henry Julius in 1613 Praetorius remained with his successor, Frederick Ulrich. He was also employed by John George I, Elector of Saxony, in 1613. His three volumes of 'Syntagma Musicum' appeared between 1614 and 1620. Praetorius died on his fiftieth birthday in 1621. The musical Renaissance, considerably a Catholic spectacle, wasn't so grand in Germany as it was next door in France or over the Alps in Italy, nor even England which experienced some degree of isolation from the continent during the Reformation there. Even by Praetorius' time German composers, beset with the Reformation, were yet largely content to follow other schools. So it was with Praetorius, strongly influenced by the Venetian school. Howsoever, he was one of the more prolific of the Renaissance composers, completing no less then twelve hundred chorale and song arrangements, some 300 instrumental dances and numerous other works for the Lutheran church, by which Praetorius makes apt example of the late Protestant Renaissance, howsoever wrought of ineluctable Catholic influence.

Michael Praetorius   1590 - 1621

  Consort: La Canarie

      Eduardo Antonello

  Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen



  Hallelujah: Christ ist erstanden


      La Capella Ducale/Roland Wilson

  In dulci jubilo


      Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh

  Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

      Frederica von Stade

  Terpsichore: La Bouree

      Early Music Consort of London/David Munrow

  Terpsichore: Musarum


      Ricercar Consort

Birth of Classical Music: Hengrave Hall

Hengrave Hall
Born in Brome, England, in 1574, little is known about John Wilbye's life until his employment at Hengrave Hall, manor of Sir Thomas Kitson, in the nineties. As Kitson kept a town house in London, Wilbye managed to publish his first book of madrigals in 1598, followed by a second book of songs in 1600. Wilbye remained at Hengrave Hall perhaps about thirty years, not leaving until 1628 upon Lady Kitson's demise. Wilbye then retired in Colchester until his death ten years years later in 1638. Although Wilbye composed very little music he offers a taste of the late Renaissance in England. He wrote next to no sacred music for the Kitsons, that perhaps relevant to the fact that Hengrave Hall was a seat of Catholic Tudor recusancy (refusal to attend Anglican church services).

John Wilbye   1595 - 1638

  Draw on sweet night

      The Hillard Ensamble

  Flora Gave Me Fairest Flowers

      Wicker Park Choral Singers

  Lady When I Behold

      The Consort of Musicke

  Lady your words do spite me

      The King's Singers


  Born in Florence, Italy, in 1575, Michelagnolo Galilei learned to play lute as a child. His father was Vincenzo Galilei and his older brother was the astronomer, Galileo Galilei. In 1593 he went to Poland, likely to play lute for the Radziwiłł family. (Poland was far from absent from the Renaissance, though it was a bit out of the way.) Returning to Florence in 1599, in 1607 Galilei finally obtained a position in Munich from Holy Roman Elector, Maximilian I of Bavaria. Galilei remained in Munich, a principal Renaissance hot spot in Germany, the remainder of his life. It was 1620 when Galilei published his first book of lute pieces, 'Il primo libro d'intavolatura di liuto'. Galilei rose to no great prominence in Europe, dying in Munich in 1631. But he did wield strong regional influence early onward, composing mostly dances (galliards, voltas, courantes, passamezzos). Per below, the toccata began appearing during the late Renaissance. Composed mostly for keyboard or lute, the toccata usually had a quicker tempo and emphasized virtuosic playing. All but three of the pieces below are toccatas; 'Corrante 10', 'Sonate in Do Minore: II' and 'Sonate in Si Bemolle Maggiore: II' are corrantes.

Michelagnolo Galilei   1600 - 1631

  Corrente 10

      Kirchmeyr Vienna

  Sonate in Do Minore: I

      Anthony Bailes

  Sonate in Do Minore: II

      Anthony Bailes

  Sonate in F Minor: IV

      Anthony Bailes

  Sonate in Si Bemolle Maggiore: II

      Anthony Bailes

  Toccata 2


  Toccata 3



  Born in 1576 in Elsted, Thomas Weelkes published his first volume of madrigals in 1597. He had been in the employment of a courier, one Edward Darcye, until winning an appointment at Winchester Cathedral as an organist in 1598. More books of madrigals followed in 1598 and 1600. Upon obtaining his degree from New College, Oxford, in 1602 Weelkes took employment as an organist at Chichester Cathedral. (Along with room and board Weelkes was paid some 15 pounds [about 23 dollars] annually.) His fourth and final volume of madrigals appeared in 1608. Weelkes is said to have been an alcoholic. That or but a rouser is unknown, but in 1616 he was fired from his post for drunken behavior and swearing. Soon rehired, Weelkes remained at Chichester until his death in 1622. Along with madrigals Weelkes left behind anthems and sacred works representative of the Anglican, versus Catholic, late Renaissance, from which it was notably distinguished with Weelkes.

Thomas Weelkes   1595 - 1622

  As Vesta was from Latmos hill descending


      The King's Singers

  Death hath deprived me

      Vox Luminis

  Gloria in excelsis Deo

      King s College Choir

  Hark All Ye Lovely Saints Above

      CD Singers

  Hosanna to the Son of David

      The Oxford Camerata

  The Nightingale

      William and Mary Women's Chorus

  O Care, thou wilt despatch me

      Consort of Musicke/Anthony Rooley

  Sing We at Pleasure

      Bell'Arte Singers/Brenda Uchimaru

  When David Heard (That Absalom Was Slain)

      Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum


  Born in 1583 in Ferrara, Italy, Girolamo Frescobaldi rounds out the late Renaissance in Italy in a pronounced way, though he could be indexed as early Baroque alike his slightly older contemporary in Venice, Claudio Monteverdi, or even older coeval in Florence, Giulio Caccini. Frescobaldi's father was a property owner. He likely studied under Luzzasco Luzzaschi, and acquired high regard regionally as a performer yet rather young. 1607 (perhaps as early as 1604) found Frescobaldi in Rome as an organist at Santa Maria. He was also employed by the Archbishop of Rhodes, with whom he made his only journeys beyond Italy, traveling to Flanders and Antwerp. In 1608 Frescobaldi succeeded Ercole Pasquini as organist at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, which position he held intermittently until his death. Between 1610 and 1613 Frescobaldi began working for Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, keeping that position until 1631. In 1614 Frescobaldi had been hired by the Duke of Mantua. But he found the people "cold" and lasted only about five months. In 1628 Frescobaldi went to Florence to serve the Grand Duke of Tuscany. He published two important books of arias there in 1630. Rome again exerted its gravitational pull in 1634 when Pope Urban VIII offered him a position at St. Peters. He simultaneously found himself employed by Cardinal Francesco Barberini as well. In 1635 he published his 'Fiori musicali'. By the the time Frescobaldi died in 1643 he had established himself among the supreme masters of instrumental composition, keyboard especially. He composed canzonas, motets, toccatas, partitas (simply instrumental tunes), capriccios (caprices, usually lively in free form and often virtuosic) and fantasias (improvisational at first but developing more rigid forms over the years). Together with Claudio Monteverdi, Frescobaldi fairly represents the late Renaissance at its apex.

Girolamo Frescobaldi    1605 - 1643

  Capricci I-XII

      Harpsichord: Sergio Vartolo

  I Fiori Musicali

      Schola Gregoriana/Dom Nicola M. Bellinazzo

  Partita sopra l'Aria di Follia

      Rosemary Thomas

  Toccate d'Intavolatura di Cimbalo

      Laura Alvini

  Toccata Prima

      Clavichord: Kevin Komisaruk

Birth of Classical Music: Girolamo Frescobaldi

Girolamo Frescobaldi

Source: Stella Sacra

We temporarily suspend this section of the history of early classical music with Girolamo Frescobaldi. We will be making additions as such occur.





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