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Renaissance Music



1570 Japan permits visits of foreign ships. Queen Elizabeth I excommunicated by Pope. Turks attack Cyprus and war on Venice. Turkish fleet defeated at Battle of Lepanto by Spanish and Italian fleets (1571). Peace of Constantinople (1572) ends Turkish attacks on Europe.

1580 Francis Drake returns to England after circumnavigating the globe; knighted by Queen Elizabeth I (1581). 
Montaigne's Essays published.

Frecesco di Bernardo Corteccia dies. 
Michael Praetorius, German composer and author, born.
c 1571
Filipe de Magalhaes, Portuguese composer, born.
c 1571
Martin Peerson, English composer, organist and virginalist, born.
William Byrd and Thomas Tallis organists at the Chapel Royal.
"Il Re" one of the earliest cellos by Andrea Amati of Cremona.
Thomas Tomkins, Welsh-born composer.
Orlando di Lasso:"Patrocinium musiques".
Giulio Cesare Monteverdi, Italian composer and organist, born
Domenico Maria Ferrabosco, Italian singer and composer dies.
c 1574
Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger, English composer, born.
John Wilbye, English madrigal composer, born.
William Byrd and Thomas Tallis: "Cantiones scare," 34 motets published.
c 1575
Mateo Romero, Spanish composer, born.
Thomas WeelkesEnglish composer and organist, born.
Balint Bakfark dies. 
Tomas Luis Victoria: "Liber primus" masses and canticles.
Jakob Meiland, German composer, dies.
Mattheus Le Maistre, Walloon composer dies.
John Maynard, English composer, born
Andrea Amati, Italian violin maker, dies.
Agostino Agazzari, Italian composer and music theorist, born.
Melchior Franck, German composer, born.
English folk tune "Greensleeves" mentioned for the first time.
Jan Sweelinck made organist at Dude Kerk, Amsterdam.
Michael East, English organist and composer, born
Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger, German-Italian virtuoso performer and composer, born.

Michael Praetorius

Michael Praetorius (probably February 15, 1571 – February 15, 1621) was a German composerorganist, and music theorist. He was one of the most versatile composers of his age, being particularly significant in the development of musical forms based on Protestant hymns, many of which reflect an effort to improve the relationship between Protestants and Catholics.




Praetorius was born Michael Schultze, the youngest son of a Lutheran pastor, in Creuzburg, in present-day Thuringia. After attending school in Torgau and Zerbst, he studied divinity and philosophy at the University of Frankfurt (Oder). He was fluent in a number of languages. After receiving his musical education, from 1587 he served as organist at the Marienkirche in Frankfurt. From 1592/3 he served at the court in Wolfenbüttel, under the employ of Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. He served in the duke's State Orchestra, first as organist and later (from 1604) as Kapellmeister.

His first compositions appeared around 1602/3. Their publication primarily reflects the care for music at the court of Gröningen. The motets of this collection were the first in Germany to make use of the new Italian performance practices; as a result, they established him as a proficient composer.

These "modern" pieces mark the end of his middle creative period. The nine parts of his Musae Sioniae (1605–10) and the 1611 published collections of liturgical music (masseshymnsmagnificats) follow the German Protestant chorale style. With these, at the behest of a circle of orthodox Lutherans, he followed the Duchess Elizabeth, who ruled the duchy in the duke's absence. In place of popular music, one now expected religious music from Praetorius.

When the duke died in 1613 and was succeeded by Frederick Ulrich, Praetorius retained his employment. From 1613 he also worked at the court of John George I, Elector of Saxony at Dresden, where he was responsible for festive music. He was exposed to the latest Italian music, including the polychoral works of the Venetian School. His subsequent development of the form of the chorale concerto, particularly the polychoral variety, resulted directly from his familiarity with the music of such Venetians as Giovanni Gabrieli. The solo-voice, polychoral, and instrumental compositions Praetorius prepared for these events mark the high period of his artistic creativity. Until his death, Praetorius stayed at the court in Dresden, where he was declared Kapellmeister von Haus aus and worked with Heinrich Schütz.

Michael Praetorius is said to have died on his 50th birthday, in Wolfenbüttel, Germany and is entombed in a vault beneath the organ of the Marienkirche there.



An illustration of several musical instruments from Syntagma Musicum



Praetorius was a prolific composer; his compositions show the influence of Italian composers and his younger contemporary Heinrich Schütz. His works include the nine volume Musae Sioniae (1605–10), a collection of more than twelve hundred (ca. 1244) chorale and song arrangements; volume eleven of twenty is called Missodia Sionia and contains sacred music in Latin for church services for two to eight voices. He wrote many other works for the Lutheran church; and Terpsichore, a compendium of more than 300 instrumental dances, which is both his most widely known work, and his sole surviving secular work.

Many of Praetorius' choral compositions were scored for several mini-choirs situated in several locations in the church for multi-phonic effect.

The familiar harmonization of Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming) was written by Praetorius in 1609.

Michael Praetorius - Dances from Terpsichore


Michael Praetorius -  Puer natus in Bethlehem

Musical writings


Praetorius was the greatest musical academic of his day and the Germanic writer of music best known to other 17th-century musicians. Although his original theoretical contributions were relatively few, with nowhere near the long-range impact of other 17th-century German writers, like Johannes LippiusChristoph Bernhard or Joachim Burmeister, he compiled an encyclopedic record of contemporary musical practices. While Praetorius made some refinements to figured-bass practice and to tuning practice, his importance to scholars of the 17th century derives from his discussions of the normal use of instruments and voices in ensembles, the standard pitch of the time, and the state of modal, metrical, and fugal theory. His meticulous documentation of 17th-century practice was of inestimable value to the early-music revival of the 20th century.

His expansive but incomplete treatise, Syntagma Musicum, appeared in three volumes (with appendix) between 1614 and 1620. The first volume (1614), titled Musicae Artis Analecta, was written mostly in Latin, and regarded the music of the ancients and of the church. The second (De Organographia, 1618) regarded the musical instruments of the day, especially the organ; it was one of the first theoretical treatises written in the vernacular. The third (Termini Musicali, 1618), also in German, regarded the genres of composition and the technical essentials for professional musicians. An appendix to the second volume (Theatrum Instrumentorum seu Sciagraphia, 1620) consisted of 42 beautifully drawn woodcuts, depicting instruments of the early 17th century, all grouped in families and shown to scale. A fourth volume on composition was planned, with the help of Baryphonus, but was left incomplete at his death.

Praetorius wrote in a florid style, replete with long asides, polemics, and word-puzzles – all typical of 17th-century scholarly prose. As a lifelong committed Christian, he often regretted not taking holy orders but did write several theological tracts, which are now lost. As a Lutheran from a militantly Protestant family, he contributed greatly to the development of the vernacular liturgy, but also favored Italian compositional methods, performance practice and figured-bass notation.

Thomas Weelkes

Thomas Weelkes (baptised 25 October 1576 – 30 November 1623) was an English composer and organist. He became organist of Winchester College in 1598, moving to Chichester Cathedral. His works are chiefly vocal, and include madrigalsanthems and services.



Weelkes was baptised in the little village church of Elsted near Chichester in West Sussex on 25 October 1576. It has been suggested that his father was John Weeke, rector of Elsted, although there is no documentary evidence of the relationship. In 1597 his first volume of madrigals was published, the preface noting that he was a very young man when they were written; this helps to fix the date of his birth to somewhere in the middle of the 1570s. Early in his life he was in service at the house of the courtier Edward Darcye. At the end of 1598, probably aged 22, Weelkes was appointed organist at Winchester College, where he remained for two or three years, receiving the quarterly salary of 13s 4d (£2 for three quarters). His remuneration included board and lodging.

During his Winchester period, Weelkes composed a further two volumes of madrigals (1598, 1600). He obtained his B. Mus. Degree from New College, Oxford in 1602, and moved to Chichester to take up the position of organist and informator choristarum (instructor of the choristers) at Chichester Cathedral at some time between October 1601 and October 1602. He was also given a lay clerkship at the Cathedral, being paid £15 2s 4d annually alongside his board, lodging and other amenities. The following year he married Elizabeth Sandham, from a wealthy local family. They had three children and it was rumoured that Elizabeth was already pregnant at the time of the marriage.

Weelkes' fourth and final volume of madrigals, published in 1608, carries a title page where he refers to himself as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal; however, records at the Chapel Royal itself do not mention him, so at most he could only have been a Gentleman Extraordinary - one of those who were asked to stand in until a permanent replacement was found.

While Weelkes was there the Choir of Chichester Cathedral was often in trouble with the authorities for poor behaviour. Weelkes appears to have become an alcoholic. As the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography puts it,

he was not the only disorderly member of the cathedral establishment, though in due course he would become its most celebrated."

In 1609 he was charged with unauthorised absence from Chichester, but no mention of drunken behaviour is made until 1613, and J Shepherd, a Weelkes scholar, has suggested caution in assuming that his decline began before this date. In 1616 he was reported to the Bishop for being ‘noted and famed for a comon drunckard (sic) and notorious swearer & blasphemer’. The Dean and Chapter dismissed him for being drunk at the organ and using bad language during divine service. He was however reinstated and remained in the post until his death, although his behaviour did not improve; in 1619 Weelkes was again reported to the Bishop:

Dyvers tymes & very often come so disguised eyther from the Taverne or Ale house into the quire as is muche to be lamented, for in these humoures he will bothe curse & sweare most dreadfully, & so profane the service of God … and though he hath bene often tymes admonished … to refrayne theis humors and reforme hym selfe, yett he daylye continuse the same, & is rather worse than better therein.

In 1622 Elizabeth Weelkes died. Thomas Weelkes was, by this time, reinstated at Chichester Cathedral, but appeared to be spending a great deal of time in London. He died in London in 1623, in the house of a friend, almost certainly on 30 November and was buried on 1 December 1623 at St Bride's Fleet Street. Weelkes's will, made the day before he died at the house of his friend Henry Drinkwater of St Bride's parish, left his estate to be shared between his three children, with a large 50s legacy left to Drinkwater for his meat, drink and lodging. Weelkes has a memorial stone in Chichester Cathedral.

Weelkes madrigal print: Since Robin Hood, 1608



Thomas Weelkes is best known for his vocal music, especially his madrigals and church music. Weelkes wrote more Anglican services than any other major composer of the time, mostly for evensong. Many of his anthems are verse anthems, which would have suited the small forces available at Chichester Cathedral. It has been suggested that larger-scale pieces were intended for the Chapel Royal. A number of Weelkes's church anthems were included in the Oxford Book of Tudor Anthems in 1978.

Only a small amount of instrumental music was written by Weelkes, and it is rarely performed. His consort music is sombre in tone, contrasting with the often gleeful madrigals.

Thomas Weelkes​ - Hark all ye lovely saints above


Weelkes's madrigals are often compared to those of John Wilbye (who the Dictionary of National Biography described as the most famous of the English madrigalists): it has been suggested that the personalities of the two men - Wilbye appears to have been a more sober character than Weelkes - are reflected in the music. Both men were interested in word painting. Weelkes' madrigals are very chromatic and use varied organic counterpoint and unconventional rhythm in their construction.

Weelkes was friends with the madrigalist Thomas Morley who died in 1602, when Weelkes was in his mid-twenties (Weelkes commemorated his death in a madrigal-form anthem titled A Remembrance of my Friend Thomas Morley, also known as "Death hath Deprived Me").
Some of Weelkes's madrigals were reprinted in popular collections during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Melchior Franck

Melchior Franck

Melchior Franck (c. 1579 – 1 June 1639) was a German composer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He was a hugely prolific composer of Protestant church music, especially motets, and assisted in bringing the stylistic innovations of the Venetian School north across the Alps into Germany.



Details of his early life are sparse, as is common for composers of the time. He was born in Zittau, and possibly studied with Christoph Demantius there, and also later with Adam Gumpelzhaimer in Augsburg. By 1601 Franck was in Nuremberg, as a music teacher; there he met Hans Leo Hassler, and learned from him both the Venetian polychoral style and the polyphonic style of the high Renaissance, both of which he incorporated into his own composition.

In 1602 he took a position as Kapellmeister in Coburg to Prince Johann Casimir, and he remained in Coburg for the rest of his life. For the earlier portion of this time, the situation was ideal for him; he was supported by his patron, and had the resources necessary to carry on his composing. Unfortunately the Thirty Years' War devastated the region around Coburg; in addition to the military depredations, typhus brought by the armies depopulated the entire region and ruined the economy. Franck was fortunate in being able to make a living throughout this terrible period as a musician, unlike his contemporary at Halle, Samuel Scheidt, who lost his Kapellmeister post. Unfortunately, though, Franck's wife and two of his children died.


Franck was a popular composer, and wrote an enormous amount of music, including more than 40 books of motets for a total of over 600 motets alone; in addition he wrote secular songs, including quodlibets, psalm settings, bicinia, tricinia, instrumental dances and numerous miscellaneous pieces.

His motets are varied in style. Many are chorale motets, an exclusively Protestant variation of the motet, and these are written in German. Almost all use the late Renaissance idiom of Lassus, with carefully controlled dissonance and smoothly flowing polyphony. Some are simple and homophonic, and pay unusually close attention to text setting (interestingly, this was also a trend in the music of the concurrent Catholic Counter-Reformation, and represented a reaction against the music of the previous generations). Others are written in the polychoral style related to the Venetian practice, with the important difference that there is no spatial separation of the choirs: the antiphonal parts are all within the group. However the most unusual is a collection from 1602 called Contrapuncti, which are early examples of fugues. They are strictly contrapuntal, and include real answers; occasionally the points of imitation use stretto. Each successive point of imitation uses as its text the successive verse of the chorale being set.

Melchior Franck - Da Pacem Domine

Giulio Cesare Monteverdi 

Giulio Cesare Monteverdi (1573–1630/31) was an Italian composer and organist; he was the younger brother of Claudio Monteverdi.

Giulio Cesare Monteverdi was born in Cremona where he was baptised on 31 January 1573. In 1600 he held the position of organist of Mantua Cathedral for a brief time. In August 1602 he served as a musician at the court of the Duke of Mantua. On 2 June 1608, during the wedding celebrations at the Mantuan court, he composed the music for the fourth intermedio (words by Chiabrera; music lost), as part of a performance of Guarini's play L'Idropica. In 1609 Francesco Gonzaga (governor of Montferrat at the time) appointed him maestro di cappella. In this position, he wrote his opera Il rapimento di Proserpina (libretto by Ercole Marigliani), on the occasion of the birthday of Francesco's wife. A performance was given at Casale Monferrato in 1611 (music lost).

In 1612 he was dismissed, along with his brother and other artists, from the Gonzaga court. Later on he became organist of the principal church at Castelleone, near Crema. Yet again he was appointed maestro di cappella at the Salò cathedral (10 April 1620). He died around 1630/31 in Salò, Lake Garda, possibly a victim to the plague.

Only a small amount of his music survives, which includes a collection of 25 motets under the title Affetti musici, ne quali si contengono motetti a 1–4 et 6 voci, per concertarli nel basso per l'organo (Venice, 1620). The influence of his brother is evident to some extent, as can be seen in a madrigal for three voices and continuo, along with two other pieces, found in his brother's three-part Scherzi musicali (1607). Stylistically they resemble the rest of the volume's pieces, each with a three-part ritornello; the writing for the voices suggests a concertato manner notwithstanding the melodious character. Nevertheless, his most notable contribution is his editing of the volume, as well as including a Dichiaratione, where Claudio's ideas are discussed in detail. This Dichiaratione is found in the preface to Claudio's fifth book of madrigals, written in response to Artusi's attacks on him.

Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger 

Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger (c. 1575 – March 1628) was an English composer and viol player of Italian descent.
He straddles the line between 
the Renaissance and Baroque eras.


Ferrabosco was born at Greenwich, the illegitimate son of the Italian composer Alfonso Ferrabosco the elder. His mother might have been Susanna Symons, whom Alfonso the elder later married. Ferrabosco the younger was left under the guardianship of Gomer van Awsterwyke, a member of the Queen's court. Although Alfonso the elder asked for Alfonso the younger to be sent to him in Italy, where he had moved with his wife, the Queen insisted that he stay in England. Ferrabosco remained in Gomer van Awsterwyke's care until Awsterwyke's death in 1592. At this time he started a long career as a court musician, including as the private music tutor of Prince Henry.

Ferrabosco collaborated with Ben Jonson on several projects, including The Masque of Blackness (1605), and wrote music for several other masques besides. His music was published by John Browne in 1609, including a number of settings of poems by John Donne and Thomas Campion, as well as lute and viol music. He frequently wrote in the new declamatory Baroque style, and although he never went to Italy, he was well aware of contemporary Italian music.

Ferrabosco the younger's reputation was built largely on his prowess as a viol player, and even more so his compositions for viol consort. These were highly idiomatic works, with lots of divisions, and virtuosic lines. He also wrote many In Nomines, which were great examples of that popular genre, without the pedantic bent many later In nomines possessed. Ferrabosco was also one of the first to write lyra viol music in tablature, along with Coprario, and wrote a book of Lessons for the lyra viol.

Ferrabosco continually had difficulty with debts, and was involved in an unsuccessful scheme involving various rights on the River Thames, including dredging it for gravel, and imposing fines on people who caused a nuisance on it. He died in March 1628 and was buried at St Alfege Church on the 11th of that month, in his home village of Greenwich.

Dovehouse Pavan - Alfonso Ferrabosco (the Younger) 

Ferrabosco younger

Agostino Agazzari 

Agostino Agazzari (2 December 1578 – 10 April 1640) was an Italian composer and music theorist.

Agazzari was born in Siena to an aristocratic family. After working in Rome, as a teacher at the Roman College, he returned to Siena in 1607, becoming first organist and later choirmaster of the cathedral there. He was a close friend of Lodovico Grossi da Viadana, the early innovator of the basso continuo.

Agazzari wrote several books of sacred music, madrigals and the pastoral drama Eumelio (1606). Stylistically, Eumelio is similar to the famous composition by Cavalieri, Rappresentatione di Anima, e di Corpo of 1600, a work of singular significance in the development of the oratorio. In the preface to the drama he mentions that he was asked to set the text to music only one month before the performance; he composed the music in two weeks, and copied the parts and rehearsed it in the remaining two weeks, a feat which would be impressive even in the modern age. Agazzari is best known, however, for Del sonare sopra il basso (1607), one of the earliest and most important works on basso continuo. This treatise was immensely important in the diffusion of the technique throughout Europe: for example, Michael Praetorius used large portions of it in his Syntagma musicum in Germany in 1618-1619. As was true with many late Renaissance and early Baroque theoretical treatises, it described a practice which was already occurring. In large part it was based on a study of his friend Viadana's Cento concerti ecclesiastici (published in Venice in 1602), the first collection of sacred music to use the basso continuo.

Most of his compositions are sacred music, of which motets of the early Baroque variety (for two or three voices with instruments) predominate. All of the motets are accompanied by basso continuo, with organ providing the sustaining line. His madrigals, on the other hand, are a cappella, in the late Renaissance style, so Agazzari simultaneously showed extreme progressive tendencies as well as some more conservative ones: unusually, his progressive music was sacred, and his conservative was secular, a situation almost unique among composers of the early Baroque.

He died in Siena.


10 Madrigals by Agostino Agazzari

Giulio Cesare Monteverdi
Michael East

Michael East 

Michael East (or Easte, Est, Este) (ca. 1580–1648) was an English organist and composer. He was a nephew of London music publisher Thomas East (ca. 1540–1608), although it was once thought that he was his son.

In 1601, East wrote a madrigal that was accepted by Thomas Morley for publication in his collection The Triumphs of Oriana. In 1606, he received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Cambridge and in 1609 he joined the choir of Ely Cathedral, initially as a lay clerk. By 1618 he was employed by Lichfield Cathedral, where he worked as a choirmaster, probably until 1644, when the Civil War brought an end to sung services. Elias Ashmole was a chorister at Lichfield, and later recalled that "Mr Michael East … was my tutor for song and Mr Henry Hinde, organist of the Cathedral … taught me on the virginals and organ".

East's exact date of death is not known, but he died at Lichfield. His will was written on 7 January 1648 and proved on 9 May 1648. It mentions his wife Dorothy, daughter Mary Hamersly, and a son and grandson both named Michael.

His most highly regarded works are his five-part fantasies for viols: Thurston Dart is quoted as saying, "despite some slipshod part-writing, they are among the best five-part consorts of the time".

John Wilbye

John Wilbye (baptized 7 March 1574 – September 1638) was an English madrigal composer.


The son of a tanner, he was born at Brome, Suffolk, near Diss, and received the patronage of the Cornwallis family of Brome Hall. Wilbye was employed for decades at Hengrave Hall, near Bury St. Edmunds, where he seems to have been recruited in the 1590s by Elizabeth Cornwallis who was married to the property's owner, Sir Thomas Kitson (or Kytson).
As well as working in Suffolk, Wilbye was involved with the music scene in London, where the Kitsons kept a town house (first in Austin Friars and from about 1601 in Clerkenwell). His first book of madrigals was published in London in 1598, the madrigals being described as "newly composed". The publication was dedicated to Sir Charles Cavendish, whose first wife had been a Kitson. Wilbye remained in contact with his printer Thomas Easte. In 1600 Wilbye and Edward Johnson took on a proofreading job for Easte, the first edition of Dowland's Second Book of Songs, as Dowland was abroad. Easte died in 1608, and Wilbye's second book of madrigals was printed the following year by Easte's nephew and successor, Thomas Snodham.

Hengrave was a recusant household, but little religious music by Wilbye survives, and even less keyboard music (one piece in Clement Matchett's Virginal Book). His main interest seems to have been madrigals. A set of madrigals by him appeared in 1598, and a second in 1608, the two sets containing sixty-four pieces.
Wilbye is probably the most famous of all the English madrigalists; his pieces have long been favourites and are often included in modern collections. 


John Wilbye - Draw on sweet night


Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger

Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger (also: Johann(es) Hieronymus Kapsberger or Giovanni Geronimo Kapsperger; c. 1580 – 17 January 1651) was a German-Italian virtuoso performer and composer of the early Baroque period. A prolific and highly original composer, Kapsberger is chiefly remembered today for his lute and theorbo (chitarrone) music, which was seminal in the development of these as solo instruments.


Nothing is known about Kapsberger's date and place of birth. His father Colonel Wilhelm (Guglielmo) von Kapsperger was a military official of the Imperial House of Austria, and may have settled in Venice, the city which may have been Kapsberger's birthplace. After 1605 Kapsberger moved to Rome, where he quickly attained a reputation as a brilliant virtuoso. He cultivated connections with various powerful individuals and organizations; and himself organized "academies" in his house, which were counted among the "wonders of Rome". Around 1609 Kapsberger married Gerolima di Rossi, with whom he had at least three children. He started publishing his music at around the same time, with more than a dozen collections of music appearing during the next ten years. These included the celebrated Libro I d'intavolatura di lauto (1611), Kapsberger's only surviving collection of music for lute.

In 1624 Kapsperger entered the service of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, where he worked with numerous important composers (such as Girolamo Frescobaldi and Stefano Landi) and poets (which included Giulio Rospigliosi, the future Pope Clement IX). Kapsberger worked in Francesco's household until 1646. He died in 1651.


Kapsberger is best remembered as a composer for lute and theorbo. At least six collections were published during his lifetime, two of which are currently lost. Kapsberger's writing is characterized, especially in toccatas, by spontaneous changes, sharp contrasts, unusual rhythmic groupings and, sometimes, passages that do not conform to the rules of counterpoint that were in use at the time. The vast majority of contemporary critics praised Kapsberger's compositional skill and innovations. Among them was Athanasius Kircher, who described Kapsberger as a "superb genius" and attested that he has "successfully penetrated the secrets of music." One notable exception was the critic Giovanni Battista Doni, who was initially supportive of the composer, but then turned against him for unclear reasons and criticised his music in print.

Some contemporaries, such as Stefano Landi, mentioned that Kapsberger was not as meticulous a composer as he was as a performer. The features listed above led some modern scholars to share this view and they tend to believe that Kapsberger was a composer of inferior ability. Prominent among these critics is lutenist Rolf Lislevand: in his words, "Kapsberger was as bad a composer as he was a fine instrumentalist [...] The ideas are often badly developed, and are freely associated with one another; no real musical discourse is built up [...] the rhythm—even after serious efforts at fathoming it—wavers between inspired cleverness and total confusion."

Regardless of how one regards his compositional prowess, Kapsberger was one of the principal composers of lute and theorbo music during the early Baroque era (together with Alessandro Piccinini) and greatly contributed towards advancing European plucked string instruments of the time. Also, Kapsberger's toccatas may have influenced those of Girolamo Frescobaldi, much like French lute music would, some years later, influence Johann Jakob Froberger's suites.

Kapsberger's other music includes two collections of instrumental ensemble dances, rare for the period, and a wealth of vocal music, which was widely performed during his lifetime, but which is now critically less acclaimed. Kapsberger also wrote stage music, almost all currently lost. The only surviving work of this kind is Apotheosis sive Consecratio SS Ignatii et Francisci Xaverii (1622).


Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger Works for Lute & Chitarrone, Romano


John Maynard

John Maynard (baptised 1577, died in or before 1633) was an English composer at the time of James I of England, with an idiosyncratic sense of humour.

His best known work is the musical setting of The Twelve Wonders of the World by Sir John Davies, possibly written for a banquet arranged by the poet Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset on the eve of Epiphany served on trenchers, large wooden plates, in sets of twelve, the underside of which were found epigrams or verses for the guests to share. The twelve verses were set by Maynard after the poems had already gained popularity.

Maynard's Almain, renaissance dance tune on mandolin and ukulele


Thomas Tomkins

Thomas Tomkins (1572 – 9 June 1656) was a Welsh-born composer of the late Tudor and early Stuart period. In addition to being one of the prominent members of the English Madrigal School, he was a skilled composer of keyboard and consort music, and the last member of the English virginalist school.


Tomkins was born in St David's in Pembrokeshire in 1572. His father, also Thomas, who had moved there in 1565 from the family home of Lostwithiel in Cornwall, was a vicar choral of St David's Cathedral and organist there. Three of Thomas junior's half-brothers, John, Giles and Robert, also became eminent musicians, but none quite attained the fame of Thomas. By 1594, but possibly as early as 1586, Thomas and his family had moved to Gloucester, where his father was employed as a minor canon at the cathedral. Thomas almost certainly studied under William Byrd for a time, for one of his songs bears the inscription: To my ancient, and much reverenced Master, William Byrd, and it may have been at this period of his career, since Byrd leased property at Longney, near Gloucester. Although documentary proof is lacking, it is also possible that Byrd was instrumental in finding young Thomas a place as chorister in the Chapel Royal. In any case, all former Chapel Royal choristers were required to be found a place at university, and in 1607 Tomkins was admitted to the degree of B.Mus. as a member of Magdalen College, Oxford.

But already in 1596 he had been appointed Organist at Worcester Cathedral. The next year he married Alice Patrick, a widow nine years his senior, whose husband Nathaniel, who died in 1595, had been Tomkins' predecessor at Worcester. Thomas's only son, Nathaniel, was born in Worcester in 1599, where he was to spend the rest of his life and become a respected musician.

Tomkins was acquainted with Thomas Morley, also a pupil of Byrd's, for his signed copy of Morley's publication Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1597) has been preserved, together with Thomas's many annotations; and in 1601 Morley included one of Tomkins' madrigals in his important collection The Triumphs of Oriana.

In 1612 Tomkins oversaw the construction in Worcester cathedral of a magnificent new organ by Thomas Dallam, the foremost organ-builder of the day. He continued writing verse anthems, and his collection of 28 madrigals, the Songs of 3, 4, 5 and 6 parts was finally published in 1622 with a dedicatory poem by his half-brother John Tomkins (circa 1587–1638), now organist of King's College, Cambridge (later of St Paul's and of the Chapel Royal), with whom Thomas maintained an intimate and loving relationship.

Probably by about 1603 Thomas was appointed a Gentleman Extraordinary of the Chapel Royal. This was an honorary post, but in 1621 he became a Gentleman Ordinary and organist under his friend and senior organist, Orlando Gibbons. The duties connected with this post included regular journeys between Worcester and London, which Tomkins performed until about 1639.

On James I's death in March 1625 Tomkins, with other Gentlemen of the Chapel Royal, was required to attend to both the music for James's funeral and that for the coronation of Charles I. These monumental tasks proved too much for Gibbons, who died of a stroke in Canterbury, where Charles was supposed to meet his future bride, Henrietta Maria of France, placing an even greater strain on Tomkins. Because of plague, the coronation was luckily postponed until February 1626, giving Tomkins time to compose most of the eight anthems sung at the ceremony.

In 1628 Tomkins was named "Composer of [the King's] Music in ordinary" at an annual salary of £40, succeeding Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger who died in March that year. But this prestigious post, the highest honour available to an English musician, was quickly revoked on the grounds that it had been promised to Ferrabosco's son. This shabby treatment was to be only the first of a series of adversities that overtook the composer for the last fourteen years of his life. He continued, however, to perform his dual duties at Worcester and London until 1639.

Further conflict and a siege in 1646 caused untold damage to the city. With the choir disbanded and the cathedral closed, Tomkins turned his genius to the composition of some of his finest keyboard and consort music; in 1647, he wrote a belated tombeau or tribute to Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, and a further one to the memory of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, both beheaded in 1641, and both admired by Tomkins. Charles I was executed in 1649, and a few days later Tomkins, always a royalist, composed his superb Sad Pavan: for these distracted times. His second wife Martha died around 1653, and deprived of his living, Tomkins, now 81, was in serious financial difficulties. In 1654 his son Nathaniel married Isabella Folliott, a wealthy widow, and Thomas went to live with them in Martin Hussingtree, some four miles from Worcester. He expressed his gratitude by composing his Galliard, The Lady Folliot's in her honour. Two years later he died and was buried in the churchyard of Martin Hussingtree on 9 June 1656.


Tomkins wrote and published madrigals—amongst which The Fauns and Satyrs Tripping, included in Morley's The Triumphs of Oriana (1601); Songs of 3,4,5 and 6 parts (1622); 76 pieces of keyboard (organ, virginal, harpsichord) music, consort music, anthems, and liturgical music. Stylistically he was extremely conservative, even anachronistic: he seems to have completely ignored the rising Baroque practice around him, with its Italian-inspired idioms, and he also avoided writing in most of the popular forms of the time, such as the lute song, or ayre. His polyphonic language, even in the fourth decade of the 17th century, was frankly that of the Renaissance. Some of his madrigals are extremely expressive, with text-painting and chromaticism worthy of Italian madrigalists such as Marenzio or Luzzaschi.

He was also a prolific composer of both full and verse anthems, writing more than almost any other English composer of the 17th century—surpassed (putatively) only by William Child—and several of his works for the church were contemporaneously copied for use elsewhere. The survival of his music was ensured by the posthumous publication, overseen by his son Nathaniel, of Musica Deo Sacra et Ecclesiae Anglicanae; or Music dedicated to the Honor and Service of God, and to the Use of Cathedral and other Churches of England (William Godbid, London: 1668); Musica Deo Sacra contains five services, five psalm tunes, the Preces and two proper psalms, and ninety-four anthems, and was published as a five-volume set—one volume each for Medius; Contratenor; Tenor; Bassus, and the Pars Organica.



Magnificat (5th Service) - Thomas Tomkins

Filipe de Magalhaes

Filipe de Magalhães (c. 1571–1652) was a Portuguese composer of sacred polyphony.



Filipe de Magalhães was born in Azeitão, Portugal, in 1571. He studied music at the Cathedral of Évora with Manuel Mendes where he was a colleague of the equally renowned polyphonists Duarte Lobo and Manuel Cardoso. He was apparently considered by his master Manuel Mendes as his favourite student; the latter left his own manuscripts to Magalhães, in the hope that these would be eventually published.

In 1589 Magalhães replaced Manuel Mendes as mestre do Claustro da Sé. Later, he went to Lisbon to become a member of the Capela Real (Royal Chapel's) choir and then mestre de Capela da Misericórdia. On the 27th of March 1623 he was appointed Mestre da Capela Real, a position he held until 1641.

While at Évora, he was the teacher of Estêvão Lopes Morago, Estêvão de Brito and Manuel Correia, who carried on with the music school of the Cathedral of Évora in the 16th and 17th centuries. He died in Lisbon.

Musical work

Magalhães dedicated himself to the composition of sacred polyphonic works for the liturgy. Most of them were published in collections such as the Missarum Liber, which was dedicated to Philip II of Portugal, and the Cantica Beatissima Virgines, published in Lisbon in 1639. He also wrote a book of plainsong, Cantus Ecclesiasticus, which was published in five different editions (the first ones in Lisbon in 1614 and in Antwerp in 1642, and the last one in 1724).

The catalogue of the Music Library of King John IV of Portugal also mentions one 8-voice Mass, 6-voice Lamentations for Maundy Thursday, one 7-voice Christmas villancico and five 5- and 6-voice motets. All these works are believed to have been lost during the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.


Filipe de Magalhães - Missa pro Defunctis a 6
Introitus - Kyrie - Graduale - Offertorium - Sanctus - Agnus Dei - Communio


Martin Peerson

Martin Peerson (or Pearson, Pierson) (born between 1571 and 1573; died December 1650 or January 1651 and buried 16 January 1651) was an English composer, organist and virginalist. Despite Roman Catholic leanings at a time when it was illegal not to subscribe to Church of England beliefs and practices, he was highly esteemed for his musical abilities and held posts at St Paul's Cathedral and, it is believed, Westminster Abbey. His output included both sacred and secular music in forms such as consort music, keyboard pieces, madrigals and motets.

Life and career
From Peerson's will and the March marriage registers, it appears that he was the son of Thomas and Margaret Peerson of March, Cambridgeshire, in England. It is believed that Martin Peerson was born in the town of March between 1571 and 1573, as records show that his parents married in 1570, but a "Margaret Peersonn" was married in 1573. It therefore seems that Thomas Peerson died a few years after 1570 and that Martin's mother remarried.
In the 1580s, Peerson was a choirboy of St. Paul's Cathedral in London under organist Thomas Mulliner. Subsequently, he came under the patronage of the poet Fulke Greville. On May Day in 1604 Peerson's setting of the madrigal See, O See, Who is Heere Come a Maying was performed as part of Ben Jonson's Private Entertainment of the King and Queene at the house of Sir William Cornwallis at Highgate (now in London). A letter dated 7 December 1609 states that at the time Peerson was living at Newington (now Stoke Newington, London) and had composed several lessons for the virginals, which was his principal instrument. It appears that he had Roman Catholic sympathies, for that year, on the same occasion as Jonson, he was convicted of recusancy – the statutory offence of not complying with the established Church of England.

Peerson then took up musical studies at the University of Oxford. In order to do so, he would have had to subscribe to Protestantism. In 1613, he was conferred a Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) and was appointed Master of the Boys of Canterbury Cathedral. It is possible that he was the "Martin Pearson" who was sacrist at Westminster Abbey from 1623 to 1630. Between June 1624 and June 1625 he returned to St. Paul's Cathedral as almoner and Master of the Choristers; there is also some evidence suggesting he was later made a petty canon. Although all cathedral services ceased at the end of 1642 following the outbreak of the English Civil War, he retained the title of almoner and, along with the other petty canons and the vicars choral, had special financial provision made for him. Peerson is known to have been buried on 16 January 1651 in St. Faith's Chapel under St. Paul's. He therefore died in either December 1650 or, more likely, January 1651.

In spite of his Roman Catholic leanings, evidenced by the use of pre-Reformation Latin texts for his motets and his 1606 conviction for recusancy, Peerson's position at the heart of the Anglican establishment confirms the overall esteem in which he was held.

Peerson's powerful patrons enabled him to print and publish a considerable quantity of his music, although little remains today. The only four extant keyboard pieces – "Alman", "The Fall of the Leafe", "Piper's Paven" and "The Primerose" – appear in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (c. 1609 – c. 1619), one of the most important sources of early keyboard music containing more than 300 pieces from the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean periods. He also set to music some of William Leighton's verses, written by the latter while in prison for debt. Together with works by other composers, these were published as The Teares and Lamentatacions of a Sorrowfull Soule in 1614. This was followed two years later by Tristiae Remedium, with texts assembled by the Reverend Thomas Myriell mainly using psalm texts in the English language.

In 1620 Peerson's collection Private Musicke was published. It contained secular music, including madrigals and consort songs, for one or two voices accompanied by viols or virginals. He published some metrical psalter tunes in Thomas Ravenscroft's 1621 work The Whole Booke of Psalmes with the Hymnes Evangelicall and Songs Spirituall, and then a group of Motets or Grave Chamber Musique in 1630 with English texts and the then-fashionable keyboard continuo; the latter work contains two very fine songs of mourning.

Martin Peerson

Mateo Romero

Mateo Romero (ca. 1575 – 1647) was a Belgian-born Spanish composer of Baroque music and master of the royal chapel.
Romero was born as Mathieu Rosmarin in Liège, Belgium, and, following the early death of his father was, like many children from the then-Spanish Netherlands, recruited as a child to serve as a choir boy at the Madrid court. Between 1586 and 1593 he was taught in Spain by his countrymen George de la Hèle and Philippe Rogier. He took the name Romero in 1594. In 1598 he was maestro de capilla at the Spanish court of Philip II of Spain and Philip III of Spain. He remained in this position till 1634. In 1609 he was ordained a priest and was private chaplain to Philipp III. He was also secretary of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

After the death of Philip, he was also chaplain to King John IV of Portugal.

Romero was one of the most appreciated composers of his time; he was known as "El Maestro Capitan". His service extended over the threshold of two musical eras, the Renaissance and Baroque. Although he was not part of the polyphonic school of the great Franco-Flemish school,he played an important role in the introduction of Italian stile moderno in Spain.

Mateo Romero - Missa Bonæ Voluntatis, à trois choeur et basse continue

(I. Magnificat à 8, primo tono)
II. Kyrie
III. Gloria
IV. Credo
V. Sanctus
VI. Agnus Dei
(VII. Laudate Dominum omnes gentes à 12 (in loco Deo Gratias)

Mateo Romero

Martin Peerson, The Fall of the Leaf

The Battle of Lepanto from 7 October 1571, a naval engagement between allied Christian forces and the Ottoman Turks.

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