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Renaissance Music


1553 Roman Catholicism restored in England by Queen Mary I.

1556 Akbar the Great becomes Mogul emperor of India, conquers Afghanistan (1581), continues wars of conquest (until 1605).

1558 Queen Elizabeth I ascends the throne (rules to 1603). Restores Protestantism, establishes state Church of England (Anglicanism). Renaissance will reach height in England—Shakespeare, Marlowe, Spenser.

Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina made director of music at St Peter's Rome.
Johannes Cochlaeus, German musical theorist, dies.
Johann Eccard, German composer, born.
Luca Marenzio, Italian composer, born.
The violin in its present form begins to develop.
c 1553
Edmund Hooper, English composer and organist, born.
Palestrina's first Book of Masses, dedicated to Pope Julius III.
Paolo Quagliati, Italian composer, born.
Bartolomaus Gese, German composer, born.
Lodovico Zacconi, Italian composer and musical theorist, born.
c 1555
Manuel Rodrigues Coelho, Portuguese organist and composer, born
Orlando di Lasso publishes his first book of motets.
Giovanni Gabrielli, Italian composer, born.
Thomas Morley, English composer and theorist born.
Giovanni Croce, Italian composer, born.
Jacques Mauduit, French composer, born.
Gioseffo Zarlino, "Institutioni harmoniche" definitions of modern major scales and minor scales.  
William BradeEnglish composer, violinist, born.
c 1560
Felice Anerio, Italian composer, born.
Hieronymus Praetorius, German composer and organist, born.

Elizabeth I in her coronation robes, patterned with Tudor roses and trimmed with ermine.

Johannes Eccard

Johannes Eccard (1553–1611) was a German composer and kapellmeister. He was an early principal conductor at the Berlin court chapel.




Eccard was born at Mühlhausen, in present-day ThuringiaGermany. At the age of eighteen he went to Munich, where he became the pupil of Orlando Lasso. In his company, Eccard is said to have visited Paris, but in 1574, he was again at Mühlhausen, where he resided for four years. There he, together with Joachim a Burck, edited his first master, a collection of sacred songs, called Crepundia sacra Helmboldi (1577). Soon afterwards he obtained an appointment as musician in the house of Jacob Fugger, the Augsburg banker.

In 1583 he became assistant conductor, and in 1599 conductor at Königsberg to Georg FriedrichMargrave of Brandenburg-Anspach, the administrator of the Duchy of Prussia. In 1608 he was called by Joachim Frederick, Elector of Brandenburg as principal conductor in Berlin, but this post he held only for three years, owing to his death at Königsberg in 1611.

Eccard's works consist exclusively of vocal compositions, such as songs, sacred cantatas and chorales for four or five, and sometimes for seven, eight, or even nine voices. Their polyphonic structure is a marvel of art and still garners the admiration of musicians. At the same time his works are instinct with a spirit of true religious feeling. Before the First World War, his setting of Martin Luther's words Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) was regarded by the Germans as their representative national hymn.


 Johannes Eckart - "Maria wallt zum Heiligtum"

Eccard and his school are inseparably connected with the history of the Protestant Reformation. Of Eccard's songs a great many collections are extant such as those published in Der Evangelische Kirchengesang (1843) by Baron Karl Georg August Vivigens von Winterfeld.

Bartolomaus Gese

Bartholomäus Gesius (also: Göß, Gese, c. 1555 – 1613) was a German theologian, church musician, composer and hymn writer. He worked at Schloss Muskau and in Frankfurt (Oder) and is known for choral Passions in German and Latin and for the melody and first setting of the Easter hymn "Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn", which was used in several compositions including a cantata by Dieterich Buxtehude and a chorale prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 630), concluding the Easter section of his Orgelbüchlein.




Born in Müncheberg, Gesius studied theology between 1578 and 1585 at the Alma Mater Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). He worked from 1582 as Kantor (church musician) in Müncheberg and from 1587 as teacher and musician at Schloss Muskau (now a World Heritage Site). In 1588, he began to compose a Passion after the Gospel of John in German, a St John Passion for five-part chorus. In spring of 1593, Gesius became Kantor at the Marienkirche, Frankfurt (Oder) and at the same time teacher at the Ratsschule, today the Karl-Liebknecht-Gymnasium. In 1613, he composed a six-part St Matthew Passion in Latin. He died the same year in Frankfurt (Oder) from the plague.

"Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn"

Gesius wrote the melody and first five-part setting for the Easter hymn "Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn" ("This Day in Triumph God the Son") on a text attributed to Kaspar Stolzhagen. The text of originally sixteen stanzas of six lines each repeats "Halleluja, Halleluja" as every third and sixth line. The melody is in 6/4 time and rises on every first mentioning of Halleluja. It was published in his Geistliche deutsche Lieder (Spiritual German songs) in 1601. It appeared in seventeen hymnals. In the current German Protestant hymnal Evangelisches Gesangbuch, it is number 109.

Instrumental and vocal compositions have been based on the hymn, including a cantata by Dieterich Buxtehude, BuxWV 43, which sets the text of the first stanza, and a chorale prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach (BWV 630), concluding the Easter section of his Orgelbüchlein.

Luca Marenzio

Luca Marenzio (also Marentio; October 18, 1553 or 1554 – August 22, 1599) was an Italian composer and singer of the late Renaissance. He was one of the most renowned composers of madrigals, and wrote some of the most famous examples of the form in its late stage of development, prior to its early Baroque transformation by Monteverdi. In all, Marenzio wrote around 500 madrigals, ranging from the lightest to the most serious styles, packed with word-painting, chromaticism, and other characteristics of the late madrigal style. Marenzio was influential as far away as England, where his earlier, lighter work appeared in 1588 in the Musica Transalpina, the collection that initiated the madrigal craze in that country. Marenzio worked in the service of several aristocratic Italian families, including the GonzagaEste, and Medici, and spent most of his career in Rome.





Early years

According to biographer Leonardo Cozzando, writing in the late 17th century, Marenzio was born at Coccaglio, a small town near Brescia, as one of seven children to a poor family. His father was a notary clerk in Brescia. A birthdate of October 18, 1553 has been proposed, based his father's stating in 1588 that his son was 35, and a suggestion that he may have been named after St. Luke, whose feast day is on October 18. He may have had some early musical training under Giovanni Contino, who was maestro di cappella at Brescia Cathedral from 1565 to 1567. He may also have gone with Contino to Mantua in 1568 when Contino began serving the Mantuan Gonzaga family; later in his life, Marenzio mentioned having spent several years in Mantua in the service of the Gonzaga family, but was unspecific as to which years.

Rome: Cardinals Cristoforo Madruzzo and Luigi d'Este

Following his time in Brescia and Mantua, he went to Rome, where he was employed by Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo until July 1578, evidently as a singer. Since Madruzzo had been the employer of Contino in Trent, this may have been arranged by Contino. After the cardinal's death Marenzio served at the court of Cardinal Luigi d'Este, who was a friend of Madruzzo; according to Marenzio himself, writing in the dedication of his first madrigal book, he was the cardinal's maestro di cappella, although Luigi's musical establishment only included a handful of musicians. Shortly after his hire, Luigi attempted to land a position for him with the papal choir, but was unable to do so for political reasons.

Marenzio had the opportunity to travel with Luigi in winter to spring 1580–1581 to Ferrara, the home of the Este family and one of the principal centers for composition of progressive secular music in the late 16th century. While there he took part in the wedding festivities for Vincenzo Gonzaga and Margherita Farnese, an opulent affair requiring equally opulent music. Marenzio would have had an opportunity to hear the newly formed Concerto delle donne, the virtuoso female singers with the repertory of "secret music" that so influenced the course of madrigal composition at the end of the Renaissance. While in Ferrara Marenzio wrote and dedicated two entire books of new madrigals to Alfonso II and Lucrezia d'Este.

While Luigi made few demands on him, allowing him considerable time for his own musical pursuits, he paid him the tiny salary of only five scudi a month, about which Marenzio complained in the dedication (to Bianca Capello, Grand Duchess of Tuscany) of his Libro terzo a sei (1585). In one impassioned letter, dated 1584, Marenzio implored his employer for more prompt payment. A comment by Marenzio to the Duke of Mantua indicates that he may have had considerable other income from freelancing in Rome, either as a singer or a lutenist. Several times during his tenure with Luigi, he tried to find other work: he applied for the post of maestro di cappella at the court of Mantua; and once, in 1583, Luigi considered sending him to Paris as a gift to King Henry III of France, but the project fell through, to Marenzio's considerable relief.

During his period of employment with Cardinal Luigi d'Este Marenzio began to establish an extensive reputation as a composer. He also became known as an expert lutenist, as indicated in a letter of 1581 from a singer to Luigi d'Este; and by the time the cardinal died in 1586, Marenzio had become internationally famous as a composer, with his numerous books of madrigals published and reprinted not only in Italy, but in the Netherlands. The popularity of his work during this period is evident also in the frequency with which his madrigals appeared in anthologies.

Florence, Rome, and Poland

After the death of Luigi d'Este on December 30, 1586, Marenzio was without a patron, but probably continued to freelance in Rome; and sometime in 1587 he went to Verona where he met Count Mario Bevilacqua and attended the prestigious Accademia Filarmonica, one of the associations of musicians and humanists, dedicated to cultivating the most progressive trends, typical of the late Renaissance. By the end of 1587 Marenzio had entered into the service of Ferdinando I de' Medici in Florence, where he stayed for two years. It is highly probable that he was already in the service of Ferdinando while the latter was still a cardinal living in Rome, and that he followed him to Florence when he succeeded to the granducal throne in 1587.

It is hard to assess the influence of Florentine composers on Marenzio's music. According to Alfred Einstein, "...he cannot conceivably have come to terms with the Camerata and with its pedantic and pretentious dilettantism." But although Marenzio never ventured into solo song, as did Giulio Caccini and other Florentines, this did not prevent him from forming friendships with two Florentine dilettante composers, Piero Strozzi and Antonio de' Bicci. On November 30, 1589 Marenzio returned to Rome, where he served several patrons, while retaining considerable independence; he lived in the Orsini palace until 1593, in the service of Virginio Orsini, the nephew of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Another important patron at this time was Cardinal Cinzio Aldobrandini, nephew of the reigning Pope Clement VIII. This cardinal, who presided over an informal academy that gathered together men of letters and learning, assigned to Marenzio an apartment in the Vatican.

In 1595 John Dowland came to Italy to meet Marenzio; the two had exchanged letters when Dowland was still in England. Dowland got as far as Florence, and indicated that he wanted to study with Marenzio, but it is not known if he did: the two may never have met.

Marenzio's final trip was a long one. He went to Poland in between late 1595 and early 1596, staying at least through October 1596, accepting a position as maestro di cappella at the court of Sigismund III Vasa in Warsaw; his predecessor, Annibale Stabile, had just died after only being there two months. While in Warsaw – the location of the court, recently moved from Kraków – Marenzio wrote and directed sacred music, including motets for double choir, a Te Deum for 13 voices, and a mass, the music for which has been lost. According to pre-20th-century writers, the trip to Poland, which was ordered by the Pope, ruined Marenzio's health. Marenzio returned from Poland by way of Venice, where he dedicated his eighth book of five-voice madrigals to the Gonzaga family. Marenzio did not live long after reaching Rome; he died on August 22, 1599, in the care of his brother at the garden of the Villa Medici on Monte Pincio. He was buried in the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina.


While Marenzio wrote some sacred music in the form of massesmotets, and madrigali spirituali (madrigals based on religious texts), the vast majority of his work, and his enduring legacy, is his enormous output of madrigals. They vary enormously in style, technique and tone through the two decades of his composing career. To Marenzio, each madrigal text presented its own problem, which he solved in terms of that text alone: therefore there is no single "Marenzio style", and he used the entire repertory of harmonic, textural, and rhetorical devices available to a composer of the late sixteenth century in his work. Each madrigal text, to him, was a challenge of translation: printed word into music. By late in his career he was easily the most influential madrigal composer in Europe, and his earlier madrigals became the model for the new school of madrigal composition in England.

Marenzio published 23 books of madrigals and related forms, including one book of madrigali spirituali; he may have produced one further book that does not survive. Nine of the collections are for five voices (and it is possible that he produced a final tenth book); six are for six voices; two are for four voices; one is for four to six voices; and the remaining five are books of villanelle, a lighter form popular in the late 16th century, for three voices only. In addition to secular music, he published two books of motets, one of which is lost, a book of antiphons (now lost), and a book of Sacrae cantiones for five to seven voices. Almost all of his works were initially published in Venice, except for the madrigali spirituali, which appeared in Rome.

Luca Marenzio - Amatemi ben mio 

Marenzio produced seventeen books of madrigals between 1580 and 1589, which include some of the most expressive, varied and important works in madrigal literature. Most of the madrigals are for five voices, but he also wrote many four and six voice pieces, as well as a few exceptional settings for more, including one madrigal for eighteen voices for a Florentine intermedio in 1589. Text and music are always close. He varies textures, using imitative counterpoint, chordal texture, recitatives as needed to express the text. In addition to his madrigals he wrote canzonette and villanelle (related secular a cappella forms very much like madrigals, but usually a bit lighter in character). Close to 500 separate compositions survive. Stylistically, his compositions show a generally increasing seriousness of tone throughout his life, but in all periods he was capable of the most astonishing mood-shifts within a single composition, sometimes within a single phrase; rarely does the music seem disunified, since he closely follows the texts of the poems being sung. During his last decade he not only wrote more serious, even sombre music, but experimented with chromaticism in a daring manner surpassed only by Gesualdo. For example, in the madrigal O voi che sospirate a miglior note he modulated completely around the circle of fifths within a single phrase, using enharmonic spellings within single chords (for instance, simultaneous C sharp and D flat), impossible to sing without either pitch drift or tempering intervals such that singers would approximate a sort of circulating temperament.

Even more characteristic of his style, and a defining characteristic of the madrigal as a genre, is his use of word-painting: the technique of mirroring in the music a specific word, phrase, implication or pun on what is being sung. An obvious example would be a setting of the phrase "sinking in the sea" to a descending series of notes, or accompanying the word "anguish" with a dissonant chord followed by an unsatisfying resolution.

Marenzio was often referred to as "the divine composer" or "the sweetest swan" by his successors. Like many of his contemporaries, he used pastoral and love poems from well-known Italian poets, such as Dante and Petrarch, but few set texts as attentively to their full expressive potential as did Marenzio. Using vivid imagery expressed through text-painting, he highlighted the specific emotions and moods contained in the poem. Consequently, historians claim Marenzio brought the Italian madrigal to its highest point of artistic and technical development.

Giovanni Gabrieli

Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1554/1557 – 12 August 1612) was an Italian composer and organist. He was one of the most influential musicians of his time, and represents the culmination of the style of the Venetian School, at the time of the shift from Renaissance to Baroque idioms.




Gabrieli was born in Venice. He was one of five children, and his father came from the region of Carnia and went to Venice shortly before Giovanni's birth. While not much is known about Giovanni's early life, he probably studied with his uncle, the composer Andrea Gabrieli; he may indeed have been brought up by him, as is implied by the dedication to his 1587 book of concerti, in which he described himself as "little less than a son" to his uncle. He also went to Munich to study with the renowned Orlando de Lassus at the court of Duke Albert V; most likely he stayed there until about 1579. Lassus was to be one of the principal influences on the development of his musical style.

By 1584 he had returned to Venice, where he became principal organist at Saint Mark's Basilica in 1585, after Claudio Merulo left the post; following his uncle's death the following year he took the post of principal composer as well. Also after his uncle's death he began editing much of the older man's music, which would otherwise have been lost; Andrea evidently had had little inclination to publish his own music, but Giovanni's opinion of it was sufficiently high that he devoted much of his own time to compiling and editing it for publication.

Gabrieli's career rose further when he took the additional post of organist at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, another post he retained for his entire life. San Rocco was the most prestigious and wealthy of all the Venetian confraternities, and second only to San Marco itself in splendor of its musical establishment. Some of the most renowned singers and instrumentalists in Italy performed there and a vivid description of its musical activity survives in the travel memoirs of the English writer Thomas Coryat. Much of his music was written specifically for that location, although he probably composed even more for San Marco.

San Marco had a long tradition of musical excellence and Gabrieli's work there made him one of the most noted composers in Europe. The vogue that began with his influential volume Sacrae symphoniae (1597) was such that composers from all over Europe, especially from Germany, came to Venice to study. Evidently he also made his new pupils study the madrigals being written in Italy, so not only did they carry back the grand Venetian polychoral style to their home countries, but also the more intimate style of madrigals; Heinrich Schütz and others helped transport the transitional early Baroque music north to Germany, a trend that decisively affected subsequent music history. The productions of the German Baroque, culminating in the music of J.S. Bach, were founded on this strong tradition, which had its roots in Venice.

Gabrieli was increasingly ill after about 1606, at which time church authorities began to appoint deputies to take over duties he could no longer perform. He died in 1612 in Venice, of complications from a kidney stone.

Music and style

Though Gabrieli composed in many of the forms current at the time, he preferred sacred vocal and instrumental music. All of his secular vocal music is relatively early; he never wrote lighter forms, such as dances; and late in his career he concentrated on sacred vocal and instrumental music that exploited sonority for maximum effect. Among the innovations credited to him – and while he was not always the first, he was the most famous to do these things – were the use of dynamics; the use of specifically notated instrumentation (as in the famous Sonata pian' e forte); and the use of massive forces arrayed in multiple, spatially separated groups, an idea which was to be the genesis of the Baroque concertato style, and which spread quickly to northern Europe, both by the report of visitors to Venice and by Gabrieli's students, which included Hans Leo Hassler and Heinrich Schütz.

Giovanni Gabrieli - Canzonas & Sonatas

Giovanni Gabrieli - Magnificat a 14


Like composers before and after him, he would use the unusual layout of the San Marco church, with its two choir lofts facing each other, to create striking spatial effects. Most of his pieces are written so that a choir or instrumental group will first be heard on one side, followed by a response from the musicians on the other side; often there was a third group situated on a stage near the main altar in the center of the church. While this polychoral style had been extant for decades (Adrian Willaert may have made use of it first, at least in Venice) Gabrieli pioneered the use of carefully specified groups of instruments and singers, with precise directions for instrumentation, and in more than two groups. The acoustics were and are such in the church that instruments, correctly positioned, could be heard with perfect clarity at distant points. Thus instrumentation which looks strange on paper, for instance a single string player set against a large group of brass instruments, can be made to sound, in San Marco, in perfect balance. A fine example of these techniques can be seen in the scoring of In Ecclesiis.

Gabrieli's first motets were published alongside his uncle Andrea's compositions in his 1587 volume of Concerti. These pieces show much influence of his uncle's style in the use of dialogue and echo effects. There are low and high choirs and the difference between their pitches is marked by the use of instrumental accompaniment. The motets published in Giovanni's 1597 Sacrae Symphoniae seem to move away from this technique of close antiphony towards a model in which musical material is not simply echoed, but developed by successive choral entries. Some motets, such as Omnes Gentes developed the model almost to its limits. In these motets, instruments are an integral part of the performance, and only the choirs marked "Capella" are to be performed by singers for each part.

There seems to be a distinct change in Gabrieli's style after 1605, the year of publication of Monteverdi's Quinto libro di madrigali, and Gabrieli's compositions are in a much more homophonic style as a result. There are sections purely for instruments – called "Sinfonia" – and small sections for soloists singing florid lines, accompanied simply by a basso continuo. "Alleluia" refrains provide refrains within the structure, forming rondo patterns in the motets, with close dialogue between choirs and soloists. In particular, one of his best-known pieces, In Ecclesiis, is a showcase of such polychoral techniques, making use of four separate groups of instrumental and singing performers, underpinned by the omnipresent organ and continuo.

Thomas Morley

Thomas Morley (1557 or 1558 – early October 1602) was an English composer, theorist, singer and organist of the Renaissance. He was one of the foremost members of the English Madrigal School. He was also involved in music publishing, and from 1598 up to his death he held a printing patent (a type of monopoly). He used the monopoly in partnership with professional music printers such as Thomas East. According to Philip Brett and Tessa Murray, Morley was 'chiefly responsible for grafting the Italian shoot on to the native stock and initiating the curiously brief but brilliant flowering of the madrigal that constitutes one of the most colourful episodes in the history of English music'.

Living in London at the same time as Shakespeare, he became organist at St Paul's Cathedral. He was the most famous composer of secular music in Elizabethan England. He and Robert Johnson are the composers of the only surviving contemporary settings of verse by Shakespeare.




Morley was born in Norwich, in East England, the son of a brewer. Most likely he was a singer in the local cathedral from his boyhood,[ and he became master of choristers there in 1583. However, it is assumed that Morley moved from Norwich Cathedral sometime before 1574 to be a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral. He was working as a singer in London in the 1570s and appears to have studied with William Byrd at that time, who also taught contemporary Peter Philips. While the dates he studied with Byrd are not known, they were most likely in the early 1570s. In his 1597 publication A Plain and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke, Morley mentions Byrd as his mentor. In 1588 he received his bachelor's degree from the University of Oxford, and shortly thereafter was employed as organist at St. Paul's in London. His young son died the following year in 1589.

In 1588 Nicholas Yonge published his Musica transalpina, the collection of Italian madrigals fitted with English texts, which touched off the explosive and colourful vogue for madrigal composition in England. Morley obviously found his compositional direction at this time, and shortly afterwards began publishing his own collections of madrigals (11 in all).

Morley lived for a time in the same parish as Shakespeare, and a connection between the two has been long speculated, but never proven. His famous setting of "It was a lover and his lass" from As You Like It has never been established as having been used in a performance of Shakespeare's play, though the possibility that it was is obvious. Morley was highly placed by the mid-1590s and would have had easy access to the theatrical community; certainly there was then, as there is now, a close connection between prominent actors and musicians.


Thomas Morley - Various madrigals and canzonets​

While Morley attempted to imitate the spirit of Byrd in some of his early sacred works, it was in the form of the madrigal that he made his principal contribution to music history. His work in the genre has remained in the repertory to the present day, and shows a wider variety of emotional color, form and technique than anything by other composers of the period. Usually his madrigals are light, quick-moving and easily singable, like his well-known "Now is the Month of Maying" (which is actually a ballett); he took the aspects of Italian style that suited his personality and anglicised them. Other composers of the English Madrigal School, for instance Thomas Weelkes and John Wilbye, were to write madrigals in a more serious or sombre vein.

In addition to his madrigals, Morley wrote instrumental music, including keyboard music (some of which has been preserved in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book), and music for the broken consort, a uniquely English ensemble of two viols, flute, lutecittern and bandora, notably as published by William Barley in 1599 in The First Booke of Consort Lessons, made by diuers exquisite Authors, for six Instruments to play together, the Treble Lute, the Bandora, the Cittern, the Base-Violl, the Flute & Treble-Violl.

Morley's Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (published 1597) remained popular for almost two hundred years after its author's death, and remains an important reference for information about sixteenth century composition and performance.


Giovanni Croce

Giovanni Croce (Italian pronunciation: [dʒoˈvanni ˈkroːtʃe]; also Ioanne a Cruce Clodiensis, Zuanne Chiozotto; 1557 – 15 May 1609) was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance, of the Venetian School. He was particularly prominent as a madrigalist, one of the few among the Venetians other than Monteverdi.



He was born in Chioggia, a fishing town on the Adriatic coast south of Venice, the same town as Gioseffo Zarlino, and he came to Venice early, becoming a member of the boy's choir at St. Mark's under Zarlino's direction by the time he was eight years old. Zarlino evidently found him in a choir in Chioggia Cathedral, and recruited him for St. Mark's.[1] Croce may have been a parish priest at the church of Santa Maria Formosa, and he took holy orders in 1585; during this period he also served as a singer at St. Mark's. He evidently maintained some connection, probably as a director of music, with Santa Maria Formosa alongside his duties at St. Mark's.

After the death of Zarlino, he became assistant maestro di cappella; this was during the tenure of Baldassare Donato. When Donato died in 1603 Croce took over the principal job as maestro di cappella but the singing standards of the famous St. Mark's cathedral declined under his direction, most likely due more to his declining health than his lack of musicianship. He died in 1609; the position of maestro di cappella went to Giulio Cesare Martinengo until 1613, at which time Monteverdi took the job.

Music and influence

Croce wrote less music in the grand polychoral style than Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, although he left a grand mass for four choirs, composed for Ferdinand of Austria (the future Emperor Ferdinand II) and several triple-choir Psalm settings (only one of which has survived), and as a result his music has not maintained the same fame to the present day; however he was renowned as a composer at the time, and was a large influence on music both in Italy and abroad. As a composer of sacred music he was mostly conservative, writing cori spezzati in the manner of Adrian Willaert, and parody masses more like the music composed by the members of the contemporary Roman School. However, later in his career he wrote some music in a forward-looking concertato style, which attempted to combine the innovations of Viadana with the grand Venetian polychoral manner. This posthumous collection, the Sacre Cantilene Concertate of 1610, is for 3, 5 or 6 solo voices, continuo and a 4-voice Ripieno which can be multiplied ad lib (presumably in different parts of the church). Most of Croce's sacred music is for double-choir: this includes three masses, two books of motets, and sets of music for Terce, Lauds and Vespers. Although most of his sacred music was written for the professional singers of St Mark's (including several pieces written for their participation in a freelance company of musicians under Croce's direction, who performed for the Scuole Grande of Venice) much of his music is technically simple: for that reason much of it, especially the secular music, has remained popular with amateurs. One collection, the motets for 4 voices of 1597, is clearly designed for less ambitious church choirs.

Croce is also credited with the first published continuo parts, many of his double-choir collections being issued either with a 'Basso per sonare nell'organo' or a 'Partidura' (or Spartidura) which indicated both choirs.

Stylistically, Croce was more influenced by Andrea Gabrieli than his nephew Giovanni, even though they were exact contemporaries; Croce preferred the emotional coolness, the Palestrina clarity and the generally lighter character of Andrea's music. Croce was particularly important in the development of the canzonetta and the madrigal comedy, and wrote a large quantity of easily singable, popular, and often hilarious music. Some of his collections are satirical, for example setting to music ridiculous scenes at Venetian carnivals (Mascarate piacevoli et ridicolose per il carnevale, 1590), some of which are in dialect.

Croce was one of the first composers to use the term capriccio, as a title for one of the canzonettas in his collection Triaca musicale (musical cure for animal bites) of 1595. Both this and the Mascarate piacevoli collections were intended to be sung in costumes and masks at Venetian carnivals.

His canzonettas and madrigals were influential in the Netherlands and in England, where they were reprinted in the second book of Musica transalpina (1597), one of the collections which inaugurated the mania for madrigal composition there. Croce's music remained popular in England and Thomas Morley specifically singled him out as a master composer; indeed Croce may have been the biggest single influence on Morley. John Dowland visited him in Italy as well.


Paolo Quagliati

Paolo Quagliati (c. 1555 – 16 November 1628) was an Italian composer of the early Baroque era and a member of the Roman School of composers. He was a transitional figure between the late Renaissance style and the earliest Baroque and was one of the first to write solo madrigals in the conservative musical center of Rome.


Quagliati was born in Chioggia to an aristocratic family. Most of his life he spent in the service of various royal and aristocratic families. In 1594 he became a Roman citizen, and between 1605 and 1608 Quagliati was employed by Cardinal Odoardo Farnese. Most likely he was organist at Santa Maria Maggiore from around 1608 until his death. During that time he also served as organist for various formal occasions around the city, and eventually he became private chamberlain to Pope Gregory XV. Towards the end of his life he was much respected, if not renowned, by his fellow composers, as can be judged from dedications of collections of music to him; however, some of this may have been less due to the quality of his music than to his direct papal connections and immense influence.

Works and style

Stylistically, Quagliati's music is clear, elegant, and he generally uses simple diatonic harmonies. Some of his books of madrigals are in two versions: one for singing by equal voice parts, in the old Renaissance style, and another in what he calls the "empty" style, for single voice with instrumental accompaniment. These were examples of the new Baroque style of monody, and he states as much in the preface to his 1608 publication: "I have decided to cater to both tastes." Quagliati was probably the first to publish solo madrigals in Rome, though monody in the form of solo madrigals had already existed for more than twenty years in northern Italy.

He wrote both sacred and secular vocal music, as well as some instrumental music. In his instrumental music, he makes little or no distinction between the style assigned to pieces with certain labels, such as ricercars or canzonas; this was an occasional practice at the time, and quite an annoying one to musicologists attempting to categorize music during this transitional period. Conventionally, a canzona around 1600 was a sectional instrumental piece, while a "ricercar" was a rather severe contrapuntal study, one of the ancestors of the fugue; the work of a few composers such as Quagliati make it necessary to qualify these terms as of imprecise usage.

In 1606 he composed Il carro di fedeltà d'amore, which is considered the first secular 'azione scenica' in Rome.

Of his surviving larger-scale works, one of the most interesting is La sfera armoniosa, which includes no less than 25 separate sections, including vocal solos and duets, all with an accompanying violin part. Much is written in the concertato style imported from northern Italy, though it would have seemed tame to a Venetian composer. He wrote this large work for the wedding of the nephew of the pope to Isabella Gesualdo, daughter of the famously murderous composer Carlo Gesualdo.

Paolo Quagliati Recerata 19 For Bassoon, Strings and Organ

Giovanni Croce: Cantate Domino


William Brade

William Brade (1560 – 26 February 1630) was an English composer, violinist, and viol player of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras, mainly active in northern Germany. He was the first Englishman to write a canzona, an Italian form, and probably the first to write a piece for solo violin.


Little is known about his early life. Around 1590 he left England to pursue a musical career in Germany, as did several other prominent English musicians, sensing better job opportunities abroad. He switched employments often between the various courts in north Germany and Denmark. Between his arrival in Germany, sometime around 1590, and 1594 he worked for the Brandenburg court; between 1594 and 1596 he worked for Christian IV of Denmark in Copenhagen; then until 1599 he was back in Brandenburg. He returned that year to Copenhagen, where he stayed until 1606. From 1606 to 1608 he worked at Bückeburg in Brunswick-Lüneburg. From 1608 to 1610 he was employed in Hamburg, but he returned to Bückeburg in 1610. Evidently by 1612 he was again planning on switching jobs, for a letter surviving from that year, written by the count at Bückeburg, tells the Hamburg court pithily that he was a "wanton, mischievous fellow" and should not be allowed to have his way.

However, in spite of the warning by his former employer, by 1613 he was working in Hamburg. Two years later—he liked to swap jobs every two years—he returned to Copenhagen, but in 1618 he moved on to Halle where he obtained the position of kapellmeister to the Prince of Magdeburg, Christian Wilhelm of Brandenburg (1598-1631). By 1619 he was in Berlin, and the next year he returned to Copenhagen yet again. Two years later he moved to Gottorp in Schleswig-Holstein, where he served as director of the Hofkapelle until 1625.

His last years were spent in Hamburg, one of the few refuges available within Germany from the ravages of the Thirty Years' War. There is no evidence that he ever returned to England.


All of Brade's surviving music is for string instruments, and most is for dancing. The earlier music, for example, in his collection published in 1609 in Hamburg, is based on English models, and similar to the contemporary work of composers such as Peter Philips and John Dowland. Later he began to work with Italian models, writing the first known canzona by an Englishman; in addition he began to arrange his dances into suites, a practice which would become common during the Baroque era. Some of the dances he wrote were in forms previously unknown in Germany such as the branle, maschera, and volta.

His coral, a set of variations on a ground bass, is considered to be the earliest music written for the solo violin by an English composer; however, its attribution is not completely certain, for another source dated 1684 gives the name of another composer.

Stylistically, his music is more homophonic than much of the music by his English contemporaries, who still preferred a polyphonic idiom.

As a performer, he was famous for his fine technique; he was one of the most famous early violinists, and highly regarded in Germany. 

Canzon in G - William Brade



Felice Anerio

Felice Anerio (c. 1560 – 26 or 27 September 1614) was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras, and a member of the Roman School of composers. He was the older brother of another important, and somewhat more progressive composer of the same period, Giovanni Francesco Anerio.




Anerio was born in Rome and lived his entire life there. He sang as a boy soprano at the Julian Chapel (the Cappella Giulia) from 1568 until 1577 (by which time he was an alto) and then he sang at another church until 1580. Around this time, he began to compose, especially madrigals; this was one of the few periods in his life during which he wrote secular music. Likely he was influenced by Luca Marenzio, who was hugely popular at the time and who was in Rome at the same time Anerio began composing. By 1584, Anerio had been appointed maestro di cappella at the Collegio degli Inglesi; he also seems to have been the choirmaster at another society of Rome's leading musicians called the vertuosa Compagnia de i Musici di Roma. These positions must have given him considerable opportunity to exercise his compositional talents, for he had already written the music, songs, madrigals, and choruses for an Italian Passion play by this time. In 1594, he replaced Palestrina as the official composer to the papal choir, which was the most prominent position in Rome for a composer.

In 1607 or shortly afterwards, he became a priest (a common career path for a composer in the Roman School). In conjunction with Francesco Soriano, another composer of the Roman School, he helped to reform the responsories of the Roman Gradual, another of the late activities of the Counter-Reformation in Italy.


Anerio was a conservative composer, who largely used the style of Palestrina as a starting point, at least after his youthful period of writing secular works, such as madrigals and canzonettas, was done. Nevertheless, he achieved an expressive intensity which was his own. Some influence of the Northern Italian progressive movements is evident, though muted, in his work. For instance, the use of double choirs (polychoral works were the norm in Venice): quick homophonic declamatory textures, quick melodic passages in the bass line (which were an influence from monody). In addition, he sometimes used quickly changing textures, alternating between full chorus and small groups of two or three voices, another progressive trait of the northern Italian schools – a trait much in evidence, for example, in the music of Claudio Monteverdi.

In his very last works, the influence of Viadana, the popularizer of the basso continuo, is evident, but he still remained true to the Palestrina style in his melodic and harmonic writing. Anerio wrote no known purely instrumental music.

Many magnificats, hymns, motets, and other works were printed by K. Proske in his Musica Divina (1854).

Christus factus est by Felice Anerio


Manuel Rodrigues Coelho

Manuel Rodrigues Coelho (ca. 1555 – 1635) was a Portuguese organist and composer. He is the first important Iberian keyboard composer since Cabezón.

Coelho was born in Elvas around 1555 and probably received early education at the Elvas Cathedral. He may also have studied at the Badajoz Cathedral, where he worked as organist from 1573 to 1577. At some point during the 1580s Coelho returned to Elvas and worked at the cathedral there. He left the post in 1602 after becoming court organist at Lisbon. He died in 1635, probably in Lisbon.

The composer's surviving works are preserved in a 1620 print Flores de musica pera o instrumento de tecla & harpa, published in Lisbon. The collection, dedicated to Philip II of Portugal, is the earliest surviving Portuguese keyboard print. It contains 24 tientos, 101 liturgical organ versets (kyries and hymn settings), four settings of the Spanish/Mozarabic version of Pange lingua, and four intabulations of Lassus' Susanne ung jour. This large collection is probably a compilation of earlier composed material.

Coelho's most important compositions are his tientos, which are very long (200–300 bars on average), multi-sectional pieces. Imitative counterpoint has a secondary role in them, whereas motivic figures and figuration, hallmarks of the Baroque style, are in the foreground. The harmonic language is simple and clear in sharp contrast to the contemporary Italian composers (i.e., Ascanio Mayone, Giovanni Maria Trabaci and Girolamo Frescobaldi); the contrapuntal techniques are reminiscent of Sweelinck. Coelho's liturgical pieces are less ornate, and generally employ more strict counterpoint. They include a group of 23 versets para se cantarem ao órgâo, "for singing to the organ", which all consist of a vocal line with organ accompaniment.


Tiento do 1 tom por De La Sol Re - Manuel Rodrigues Coelho.

Manuel Coelho

Lodovico Zacconi

Lodovico (or Ludovico) Zacconi (11 June 1555 – 23 March 1627) was an Italian composer and musical theorist of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He worked as a singer, theologian, and writer on music in northern Italy and Austria; for a time he was in the employ of Archduke Karl of Graz, and worked in Graz and Vienna.


Born in Pesaro, in the Marche, Zacconi became an Augustinian friar at Venice, where he was ordained priest. In 1577 he was in Venice studying at the church of San Stefano, and at some point in the following six years he was accepted by Andrea Gabrieli as a student of counterpoint. In 1584 he auditioned at San Marco as a singer, and was accepted; however he seems to have declined the position. Also at this time he met Zarlino, the prominent Venetian School theorist; he was to mention the meeting in the second part of his Prattica di musica (1622). On 20 July 1585, he joined the musical establishment of Archduke Karl of Graz, a position he retained until Karl's death in 1590. Subsequently he joined the chapel of Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria, which was directed by Orlande de Lassus.

In 1596 he left the employ of Wilhelm, returning to Italy; in the following years he worked as a prior at Pesaro, and as a preacher and administrator in both Italy and Crete. He retired to Pesaro in 1612, where he remained until his death (at Fiorenzuola di Focara, near Pesaro).


Zacconi's fame rests on his great work Prattica di Musica, first published in 1592 at Venice, of which a second volume appeared in 1619 (or, according to other sources, 1622).

His theoretical works are conservative, and make no mention of the emerging Baroque style, in spite of his studies with the distinguished Venetian composer Andrea Gabrieli. His most important works are the two books of Prattica di musica (Musical Practice) which he published in Venice in 1592 and 1622. These two volumes—containing four works—treat exhaustively of musical theory, and are copiously illustrated. The directions for rendering polyphonic music are of the highest value, especially the Palestrina illustrations. He deals fully with the six Authentic and six Plagal Modes, studiously omitting the Locrian and Hypolocrian Modes. But he also treats of orchestral instruments—their compass and method of playing—and gives valuable information as to the scoring of early operas and oratorios. In fact he covers the whole ground of music, as practised at the close of the 16th century.

Zacconi's treatises are an invaluable guide to the study of performance practice of vocal music of the very late Renaissance. Parts of his work were incorporated by Michael Praetorius into his Syntagma musicum (1618), and by Pietro Cerone into his Melopeo y maestro (1613).


Jacques Mauduit

Jacques Mauduit (16 September 1557 – 21 August 1627) was a French composer of the late Renaissance. He was one of the most innovative French composers of the late 16th century, combining voices and instruments in new ways, and importing some of the grand polychoral style of the Venetian School from Italy; he also composed a famous Requiem for the funeral of Pierre de Ronsard.


Much of the biographical information about Mauduit comes from the writings of Marin Mersenne. Mauduit was born in Paris, and being an aristocrat, received an excellent education in humanities, languages and philosophy, but was evidently self-taught in music. Mauduit was a member of the Académie de Poésie et de Musique, the secretive group founded by Jean Antoine de Baïf to promote musique mesurée à l'antique, an attempt to recreate the rhetorical and ethical effect of ancient Greek music using modern French poetry and music. After the death of Joachim Thibault de Courville in 1581, Mauduit became the principal musician of the Académie.

Evidently Mauduit was a man of some personal courage, for during the siege of Paris in 1589–1590, in the closing phase of the bloody French Wars of Religion, he assisted Claude Le Jeune in escaping from the city (had he been caught, both would have been executed), and he also helped save much of Le Jeune's music as well as the unpublished work of Baïf. He outlived all of the other composers of the Académie, dying in Paris in 1621.

Music and influence
Mauduit was a prolific composer of chansons in the relatively recent style of musique mesurée, in which the rhythmic values assigned to notes exactly matched the stresses of the French words, typically in a 2:1 ratio of stressed to unstressed. While he never achieved the fame of Claude Le Jeune, part of this may have been due to Mersenne's failure to publish his complete works, a project which he promised but never completed. Mauduit's style was simple and clear, setting texts without alteration, and achieving variety using mostly harmonic means.

While his five-voice Requiem mass for Pierre de Ronsard dates from 1585, Mauduit's first publication was a collection of Chansonnettes mesurées de Jean-Antoine de Baïf, for four voices (1586). This collection was the first publication consisting exclusively of musique mesurée. Much of his music from the late 16th century is presumed to be lost.

He was also a composer of airs de cour for solo voice and lute, as well as a ballet La déliverance de Renaud for 92 singers and 45 instrumentalists, which was performed in 1617.

Among lost works mentioned by Mersenne are over 300 psalm settings, Vespers, Tenebrae settings, 104 hymns, masses and motets; indeed Mauduit may have suffered one of the highest percentages of lost music of any major composer of the late Renaissance.

Mauduit continued to use the technique of musique mesurée into the 17th century, and in contexts for which it was not originally intended, such as large settings for groups of voices and instruments, some of which may have been in the Venetian style. Mersenne also credited Mauduit with introducing the viol consort into France; he also claimed that it was Mauduit who suggested adding the sixth string to the viol.


Jacques Mauduit - En son temple sacré à 5 


Hieronymus Praetorius

Hieronymus Praetorius (10 August 1560 – 27 January 1629) was a north German composer and organist of the late Renaissance and very early Baroque eras. He was not related to the much more famous Michael Praetorius, though the Praetorius family had many distinguished musicians throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.

He was born in Hamburg, and spent most of his life there. Praetorius studied organ early with his father (Jacob Praetorius, the elder (1520-1586), also a composer), afterwards going to Cologne for further study. In 1580 he became organist in Erfurt, but only remained there two years, returning to Hamburg in 1582. Back in Hamburg he worked with his father as assistant organist at St. Jacobi, becoming principal organist in 1586 when his father died. His son, Jacob, was born that same year, and was also destined to become a composer.

In 1596 he went to Gröningen where he met Michael Praetorius and Hans Leo Hassler; presumably he became acquainted with their music, and through them the music of the contemporary Italian Venetian School, at this time.

He remained in Hamburg as organist at St. Jacobi until his death.

Music and influence
Praetorius wrote masses, ten settings of the Magnificat, and numerous motets, mostly in Latin. Most of his music is in the Venetian polychoral style, which uses numerous voices divided into several groups. These compositions are the first to be written in north Germany in the progressive Venetian style. Choir sizes range from 8 to 20, with the voices divided into two, three or four groups, and he must have had well-trained and sophisticated musicians at his disposal, considering both the amount and the difficulty of music he wrote for these ensembles.

While progressive in writing in the Venetian style, he was conservative in using Latin and avoiding the basso continuo, which was eagerly adopted by many other contemporary German composers. Most of his vocal music is a cappella.

Praetorius was also the first composer to compile a collection of four-part German chorales with organ accompaniment, a sound which was to become a standard in Protestant churches for several centuries. The music in the collection was compiled from four churches in Hamburg; 21 of the 88 settings are of his own composition.

Some of his organ compositions survive, including nine settings of the Magnificat, which are in a highly contrapuntal cantus firmus style. In addition to these settings, numerous anonymous pieces in north German collections of the time are now attributed with reasonable certainty to Hieronymus Praetorius.


Magnificat a Quinti Toni - Hieronymus Praetorius

Hieronymus Praetorius

Edmund Hooper

Edmund Hooper (c. 1553 – 1621) was an English composer and organist.

He was employed at Westminster Abbey from 1588 to 1621 and organist of the Chapel Royal from 1618 to 1621.

He was born in North Halberton, Devon, c. 1553.

He may have been a chorister at Exeter Cathedral.

By 1582 he was a member of the choir of Westminster Abbey where he became Master of the Choristers. Hooper appears to have been the first regularly appointed organist of the abbey; his patent, dated 19 May 1606, was renewed for life in 1616.

On 1 March 1604 Hooper became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. There are several references to Hooper in the Chapel Royal Cheque Book and in the Lord Chamberlain's Accounts for the period. These include allowances for mourning livery for the funerals of Queen Elizabeth I (1603), Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1612) and Queen Anne (1618). By November 1615 Hooper had attained the prestigious position of joint Organist of the Chapel Royal with Orlando Gibbons.

He held this position until his death on 14 July 1621. On 16 July 1621 Hooper was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey. His widow, Margaret, was buried there on 7 March 1652.

Hooper's eldest son, James, who died in December 1652, was a lay vicar of Westminster Abbey.

​Edmund Hooper

Edmund Hooper's "Behold it is Christ"

The Mughal Emperor Akbar is depicted training an elephant.
1556 - Akbar the Great becomes Mogul emperor of India

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