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Renaissance Music


1520 Luther excommunicated by Pope Leo X. Suleiman I (“the Magnificent”) becomes Sultan of Turkey, invades Hungary (1521), Rhodes (1522), attacks Austria (1529), annexes Hungary (1541), Tripoli (1551), makes peace with Persia (1553), destroys Spanish fleet (1560), dies (1566). Magellan reaches the Pacific, is killed by Philippine natives (1521). 
One of his ships under Juan Sebastián del Cano continues around the world, reaches Spain (1522).

1524 Verrazano, sailing under the French flag, explores the New England coast and New York Bay.

1527 Troops of the Holy Roman Empire attack Rome, imprison Pope Clement VII—the end of the Italian Renaissance.
Castiglione writes The Courtier. The Medici family expelled from Florence.

Philippe de MonteFlemish composer, born.
Josquin des Prez, Dutch composer, dies. 
Franchinus Gaffurius dies. 
Richard Edwards, English composer and poet, born. 
Hans Judenkunig of Vienna publishes firrst manual of lute playing. 
Hans Judenkönig (also Judenkunig or Judenkünig) (c. 1450 – 4 March 1526) was a German lutenist of the Renaissance. He was born in Schwäbisch Gmünd and died in Vienna. He worked as a lutenist in the vicinity of the University of Vienna and was best known for his two lute books written for the self-teaching of a lay audience.
Johann Walther produces in collaboration with Martin Luther the hymnal "Geystlich Gesangk-Buchleyn". 
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Italian composer, is born. 
Baldassare Donato (also Donati), Italian composer and singer, is born.

Hans Judenkunig, Austrian lutanist, dies.
Flemish composer Adrian Willaert made maestro di capella at St. Mark's, Venice. 
Martin Agricola "Eyn kurtz deudsche Musica" published. 
Elias Nikolaus Ammerbach German organist and composer born.
Claude Le Jeune, Franco-Flemish composer, born.


Richard Edwards

Richard Edwardes (also Edwards, 25 March 1525 – 31 October 1566) was an English poetplaywright, and composer; he was made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and was master of the singing boys. He was known for his comedies and interludes. He was also rumoured to be an illegitimate son of Henry VIII.


Richard Edwardes was born in 1525 in Somerset to Agnes Beaupenny Blewitt Edwards. Some of Edwardes' descendants have claimed that his mother was a mistress of Henry VIII and that Richard was Henry's son, although there has not been evidence to prove or disprove this theory. Descendants observe that it was unusual for someone from such a poor family to get an Oxford education.

Edwardes began his studies at Corpus Christi College, Oxford in May 1540 and joined Christ Church, Oxford as it opened in 1546. He joined Lincoln's Inn but did not take up law as a career. He joined the Chapel Royal by 1557 and was appointed Master of the Children in 1561. He married Helene Griffith in 1563. After he died in 1566, he was succeeded by William Hunnis.



In 1566, Edwardes' Palamon and Arcite was performed before Elizabeth I at Oxford when the stage fell — three people died and five were injured as a result. Despite the tragic accident, the show continued to play that night.

The excellent Comedie of two the moste faithfullest Freendes, Damon and Pithias (written in 1564, published in 1571), a comedy, is his only extant play.


Ten of Edwardes' poems appear in the first edition of the Paradise of Dainty Devices, though publisher Henry Disle says the poems are "written for the most part by M. [Master] Edwards." Edwardes possibly compiled the manuscript on which the Paradise of Dainty Devices is based.


Edwardes was less well known as a composer, but several of his compositions survive, including three pieces in the Mulliner Book: "O the syllye man," ascribed to him by the book, and two anonymous pieces usually attributed to him, "In goinge to my naked bedde" and "When grypinge griefes." Other pieces include a song from Damon and Pithias, "Awake, ye woeful wights," and a setting of the Lord's Prayer in Richard Day's Psalter of 1563.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

(1525 - 1594)

An Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition. He had a lasting influence on the development of church music, and his work has often been seen as the culmination of Renaissance polyphony.

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Elias Nikolaus Ammerbach

Elias Nikolaus Ammerbach (c. 1530 – January 29, 1597) was a German organist and arranger of organ music of the Renaissance. He published the earliest printed book of organ music in Germany and is grouped among the composers known as the Colorists.


He was born in Naumburg, educated at the University of Leipzig (1548–49), and was afterwards employed as organist at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, probably for the rest of his life. He was married three times (his first two wives died). According to the preface of his 1571 publication of organ tablature he traveled to foreign lands to study, but he gave no specifics.

Ammerbach developed a method of music notation for keyboard playing, known as tablature, which was specifically adapted for organ. His method became known as the "new German organ tablature" and involved letter notation for the pitches with rhythmic symbols placed above.

It is not known if Ammerbach was himself a composer; if he was, he did not sign his music. His publications of music in tablature include arrangements of numerous composers popular in the mid-16th century, including Ludwig SenflHeinrich IsaacJosquin des PrezClemens non PapaOrlande de Lassus, and others; Lassus is particularly well represented, as can be expected both because of his extraordinary fame and his presence in Germany (he was in Munich between 1563 and 1594). Most of the secular music in Ammerbach's collections is printed with German titles, while sacred music retains Latin. In his last publication (1583) he includes a considerable quantity of Italian madrigals arranged for keyboard.


Claude Le Jeune 

Claude Le Jeune (1528 to 1530 – buried 26 September 1600) was a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance. He was the primary representative of the musical movement known as musique mesurée, and a significant composer of the "Parisian" chanson, the predominant secular form in France in the latter half of the 16th century. His fame was widespread in Europe, and he ranks as one of the most influential composers of the time.



He was born in Valenciennes, where he probably received his early musical training. Sometime fairly early in life he became a Protestant. The first record of his musical activity is from 1552, when four chansons attributed to him were published at Leuven, in anthologies of works by several composers. In 1564 he moved to Paris, where he became acquainted with the Huguenots. By this time he had already acquired some international fame, as evidenced by the appearance of his name in a list of "contemporary composers of excellence" in a manuscript copy of the Penitential Psalms of Orlande de Lassus, which were probably composed in the 1560s in Munich. Lassus may have met Le Jeune in the mid-1550s during a trip to France; however this has not been definitely established.

In 1570 Le Jeune began his association with the Academie de musique et de poésie, headed by Jean-Antoine de Baïf, an association which was to be decisive both on Le Jeune's music and on the direction taken by the Academie. That Baïf was a Catholic, who even wrote a sonnet extravagantly praising the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572 (in which somewhere between 5,000 and 30,000 Protestants were murdered) appears not to have dissuaded Le Jeune from working with him, and Le Jeune continued to set his poetry, and follow the ideals of the Academie, into the 1580s. In 1581, in collaboration with Baïf, d'Aubigné and Ronsard, he wrote incidental music for the wedding of the Duke of Joyeuse and the queen's half-sister, Marie de Lorraine.

Unfortunately, Le Jeune was found out to be the author of an anti-Catholic tract in 1589, and was forced to flee Paris during the siege that year: only the intervention of his friend, the composer Jacques Mauduit, at the city's St. Denis gate saved his life and prevented the destruction of the manuscripts he carried with him (according to Marin Mersenne, who wrote extensively about both composers in his Harmonie universelle of 1637). Other Huguenot composers were not so fortunate. Claude Goudimel, a very similar composer who Le Jeune may have known, was murdered by a Catholic mob in Lyon during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in late August 1572.

Next, Le Jeune settled in La Rochelle, a stronghold of the Huguenots, but sometime in the mid-1590s he must have returned to Paris, for his name appears in a list of musicians of the royal household of Henry IV both in 1596 and 1600. Few other details from late in his life are known, but he must have been composing prolifically, judging by the enormous quantity of music which remained in manuscript at his death, most of which was published in the first two decades of the 17th century. He died in Paris, and is buried in the Protestant cemetery of La Trinité.

Music and influence

Le Jeune was the most famous composer of secular music in France in the late 16th century, and his preferred form was the chanson. After 1570, most of the chansons he wrote incorporated the ideas of musique mesurée, the musical analogue to the poetic movement known as vers mesurée, in which the music reflected the exact stress accents of the French language. In musique mesurée, stressed versus unstressed syllables in the text would be set in a musical ratio of 2:1, i.e. a stressed syllable could get a quarter note while an unstressed syllable could get an eighth note. Since the meter of the verse was usually flexible, the result was a musical style which is best transcribed without meter, and which sounds to the modern ear to have rapidly changing meters, for example alternating 2/8, 3/8, etc.

Claude Le Jeune - Je suis deshéritée​

Le Jeune

Baldassare Donato

Baldassare Donato (also Donati) (1525-1530 – June 1603) was an Italian composer and singer of the Venetian school of the late Renaissance. He was maestro di cappella of the prestigious St. Mark's Basilica at the end of the 16th century, and was an important figure in the development of Italian light secular music, especially the villanella.


Details of his early life are unavailable; it is not even known where he was born. The first record of Donato is as a singer at St. Mark's in Venice in 1550, and he was given charge of the musical training of the boys there in 1562. When Gioseffo Zarlino took over the post of maestro di cappella from Cipriano de Rore in 1565, Donato was demoted back to being a singer; conflict between the two men seems to have been a feature of life at St. Mark's, culminating in a climactic fight in 1569, publicly and scandalously, during the Feast of St. Mark. In 1577 Donato took a position at the Scuola Grande di S Rocco, another Venetian church with an impressive musical tradition and substantial performing ensemble; however he failed to get along with his employers there as well, resigning by 1580. In 1588 he became assistant maestro di cappella at St. Mark's, while Zarlino was still alive (whether because of reconcilement or politics is not clear), and in 1590 he took over the post of his former antagonist, holding it until his death in 1603.

Music and influence

Donato represented a progressive trend in the Venetian school, which was already a progressive tradition compared to the other major contemporary Italian musical styles (especially as compared to the Roman School). The progressive trend in the Venetian school was represented by composers such as Donato, Giovanni Croce, and Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli; the conservative trend involved composers and theorists such as Zarlino, Cipriano de Rore, and Claudio Merulo, who tended to follow the Franco-Flemish style which was predominant almost everywhere else in Europe until after mid-century.

Donato's sacred music is the most conservative portion of his output, usually using polyphony in the Palestrina style, but also using some of the grand polychoral effects of the Gabrielis. In spite of his evident disdain for Zarlino's conservatism, he clearly absorbed some of his style and teaching, as can be seen in his smooth mastery of counterpoint and Zarlinoesque use of dissonance, at least when he was deliberately composing in the Franco-Flemish style.


Philippe de Monte

Philippe de Monte (1521 – 4 July 1603), sometimes known as Philippus de Monte, was a Flemish composer of the late Renaissance active all over Europe. He was a member of the 3rd generation madrigalists and wrote more madrigals than any other composer of the time. Sources cite him as being "the best composer in the entire country, particularly in the new manner and musica reservata." Others compare his collections of music with that of other influential composers, such as Lassus.



Philippe de Monte was born in Mechelen. After boyhood musical training at St. Rumbolds Cathedral in Mechelen, where he was a choirboy, Monte went to Italy — a common destination for a young Flemish composer in the sixteenth century — where he made a name for himself as a composer, singer, and teacher. He lived and worked in Naples for a while, and in Rome, in the employ of Cardinal Orsini, although he was in England for a brief period, 1554–1555, during the reign of Queen Mary I, while she was married to King Philip II of Spain. Monte reported that he disliked working in Philip's choir since all the other members were Spaniards.

"Though Monte was not likely to have been a supporter of the Reformation, he took part in a variety of intellectual exchanges on sensitive topics, some of which involved Italian academics."

In 1568 Monte was appointed as successor to Jacobus Vaet as Kapellmeister to the chapel of Maximilian II. A majority of his music was published in Venice under the direction of Gardano, Monte's exclusive publisher in Italy. He wanted to utilize Italian publishers in order to stay close to the home of the madrigal. He was successful at recruiting new musicians to the chapel, for Lassus himself noted the astonishing quality of music-making in Vienna just two years after Monte became leader there. During his first ten years at the Imperial Court, Monte served as an active teacher. Monte worked for the remainder of his long life in Habsburg courts both in Vienna and, since 1583, Prague. Even though his accomplishments were many, he is not known to have held any positions as a church musician or in a noble household. Philippe de Monte died in Prague in 1603.

Music and Influence

Monte was a hugely prolific composer, and wrote both sacred and secular music, primarily printed in the German language. He wrote about 40 masses and about 260 other sacred pieces, including motets and madrigali spirituali (works differing only from madrigals in that they have sacred texts). He published over 1100 secular madrigals, in 34 books, but not all of them survived. His first publication was in 1554 when he was 33. Most of his publications, from then on, included self-written prefaces that were primarily utilized to express his gratitude to patrons of financial support.

Monte's madrigals have been referred to as "the first and most mature fruits of the compositions for five voices." Stylistically, Monte's madrigals vary from an early, very progressive style with frequent use of chromaticism to express the text (though he was not quite as experimental in this regard as Marenzio or Lassus), to a late style which is much simplified, featuring short motifs and frequent homophonic textures. Some of his favorite poets of the time included Petrarch, Bembo, and Sannazaro. Unlike Monteverdi, who began in a conservative style and became experimental later in life, Monte's compositional career had an opposite curve, progressing from experimentation to unity and simplicity in his later works. Some believe that this comes from his change in poetry selections, whereas others believe it was a reflection from the imperial courts.

De Monte

O suavitas et dulcedo, by Philippe de Monte

Chi La Gagliarda - Baldassare Donato

The Ducal Palace at Urbino, setting of the Book of the Courtier. The Book of the Courtier  is a courtesy book. It was written by Baldassare Castiglione over the course of many years, beginning in 1508, and published in 1528.

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