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Baroque Era

Battle of White Mountain: troops of Holy Roman Emperor crush Protestant forces of Frederick V of Bohemia • Voyage of the Mayflower: Pilgrim Fathers (English settlers) arrive at Cape Cod and form Plymouth settlement
 • Peter Paul Rubens - Perseus Freeing Andromeda
Spain and Netherlands renew hostilities after 12-year truce • Johann Kepler (Ger) completes publication of Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae, on theory that Earth revolves around the Sun; Roman Catholic Church bans the work • Pope Paul V dies; is succeeded by Gregory XV
James I (Eng) dissolves Parliament, imprisoning three members who oppose him • French statesman Armand Jean de Richelieu is made a cardinal • Jamestown Massacre: Indians slaughter 347 English Settlers; survivors take revenge • William Oughtred (Eng) invents slide-rule • London Weekly Newes begins publication in England
Dutch massacre English and Japanese merchants at Amboina (now Ambon, Indonesia) • Pope Gregory XV dies; is succeeded by Urban VIII • First European settlements in New Hampshire • Wilhelm Schickard (Ger) invents a mechanical calculator (‘Calculating Clock’) •
'First Folio’ edition of works of William Shakespeare (Eng) published
Cardinal Richelieu becomes chief minister to Louis XIII, and the real master of France • Chemist Jan Baptist van Helmont (Flem) coins the word ‘gas’ (corruption of ‘chaos’) • Thomas Middleton (Eng): satirical play A Game of Chesse 


Title page of the First Folio, by William Shakespeare, with copper engraving of the author by Martin Droeshout. Image courtesy of the Elizabethan Club and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.



In Lisbon Manuel Rodrigues Coelho issues his Flores de Musica (Flowers of Music), Portugal’s earliest surviving printed keyboard music. 

Manuel Rodrigues Coelho - Flores de Musica - Tiento para harpa

Samuel Scheldt is promoted to Kapellmeister at the court of Margrave Christian Wilhelm of Brandenburg. This year marks his first publication, Cantiones sacrae, a collection of mainly double-choir motets for eight voices. 


Monteverdi’s opera Andromeda is completed and performed around this time in Mantua. The music is now lost. 

Andromeda by Edward Poynter

Monteverdi's next commission from Mantua came early in 1618, when he was asked to provide the music for Andromeda, an opera based on the ancient Greek myth of the princess chained to a rock. The libretto was written by Duke Ferdinando's chancellor. It is probable that the work was intended for performance at the Mantua Carnival of March 1618, but as Carter records, Monteverdi's approach to his Mantua commissions was often dilatory and half-hearted; his inability or unwillingness to work on Andromeda delayed its performance, first to 1619 and then to 1620.

Michael Praetorius publishes Polyhymnia exereitatrix, a collection of Latin psalm settings.
He also issues a pictorial supplement to his second
volume of Syntagma musicum, entitled Theatrum instrumentorum (Theatre of Instruments). 

Psalm 116: "Das ist mir lieb" by Michael Praetorius

1 March
Thomas Campion, composer, poet and physician, dies in London, aged 53. He is remembered exclusively for his lute songs. 

17 November
Alessandro Grandi is promoted from singer to second maestro di capella (deputy to Monteverdi) at St Mark’s, Venice. This year has seen the publication of his Cantade et arie for solo voice and continuo, featuring some of the earliest (secular) cantatas. 

Alessandro Grandi: O Intemerata

Carlo Caproli, Italian violinist, organist, and a leading composer, born.

Carlo Caproli

Carlo Caproli or Caprioli (before 1620 – after 1675?), also called Carlo del Violino, was an Italian violinist, organist, and a leading composer of cantatas in mid-17th-century Italy.
Carlo Caproli was born in Rome. His father (originally from Poli) was a seller of green vegetables (erbarolo).

He was recorded as Carlo del Violino in 1636, when he was engaged by the Barberini family for performances of Santa Teodora (with a text by Giulio Rospigliosi). Caproli was considered to be a maestro di cappella beginning in 1638, and was in charge of the music for the festival of the patron saint of San Girolamo degli Schiavoni up to 1643.He was an organist under Giacomo Carissimi at the Collegio Germanico beginning in September 1643 and held the post until 1645. On 15 November 1644 he was appointed aiutante di camera under Cardinal Camillo Pamphili, but left that position in April 1647. He first appeared at San Luigi dei Francesi on 25 August 1652 as a violinist hired for the occasion.
In November 1653, Caproli and his wife went to Paris, where he was commissioned by Cardinal Mazarin to compose the opera Le nozze di Peleo e di Theti (music lost) with an Italian libretto by Mazarin and Francesco Buti.

​Carlo Caproli

The premiere, which included ballet intermèdes with a French text by Isaac de Benserade and music by uncredited French composers, was given on 14 April 1654 at the Théâtre du Petit-Bourbon with decors by Giacomo Torelli. The 15-year-old King Louis XIV appeared in no fewer than six roles. The production received nine performances, the final two open to the public, and it was considered a great success, although this was primarily due to the French ballets in the intervals. For his efforts, Caproli was made maître de la musique du cabinet du Roy, which suggests he may have directed the performances.
Caproli returned to Rome in 1655. He again directed the music for the festival of San Girolamo and, as one of the best violinists in the city, made numerous appearances, including at San Luigi dei Francesi, Santa Maria Maggiore, and Santa Maria del Popolo, where he played for the Vespers of 8 September. In 1665 he took up the post of guardiano of the instrumentalists at the Congregazione dei Musici di Roma (later the Accademia di Santa Cecilia). He composed numerous solo and ensemble cantatas, many with instruments, and several oratorios.

Caproli died in Rome.



Two hundred copies of Duarte Lobo's Liber missarum are printed in Antweip. The widely circulated collection features eight masses and two motets, including the angelic Audivi vocem de caelo (I heard a voice from heaven). Lobo, Portugal’s leading composer, is currently maestro de capilla at Lisbon Cathedral. 

Duarte Lobo: Audivi Vocem De Caelo

Tarquinio Merula becomes court organist to Sigismund III, King of Poland. 

Taking inspiration from the Italian pastorale, Johann Schein produces the first of his three-part Musica hoscareccia (or Wald-Liederlein). The secular songs are written for two sopranos and one bass with continuo. 

 "Musica Boscareccia" - Johann Hermann Schien

Francesco Turini includes some early examples of the trio sonata in his First Book o f Madrigals, published in Venice. 

Turini - Trio Sonata 'E tanto tempo hormai'

Giovanni Valentini issues the unprecedented Messa, Magnificat et Jubilate Deo, indulgently scored for seven choirs. His adventurous spirit is also apparent in Musiche a doi voci, which incorporates verses in 5/4 time. 

Giovanni Valentini: Aria a2 in G Minor

15 February
Influential German composer Michael Praetorius dies in Wolfenbuttel, aged 50. He leaves most of his sizeable fortune to the setting up of a charity for the poor. 

English composer Thomas Tomkins becomes an organist of the Chapel Royal. 

16 October
The great tradition of Dutch Renaissance composers breathes its last as Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck dies in Amsterdam, aged 59. The fourth and final book of the composer’s Pseaumes de David is published soon afterwards. 

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck - Choral Works 1/3
1. Psalm 150: Or soit loué, eight-part motet
2. Psalm 33: Resveillez-vous, eight-part motet
3. Psalm 53: Le fol malin, four- to seven-part motet
4. Hodie Christus natus est, five-part motet
5. Te Deum Laudamus, five-part motet for voices and organ
6. Psalm 148: Vous tous les habitans de cieux, for unaccompanied seven-part choir
7. Ab Oriente venerunt Magi, for five-part choir and figured bass
8. Oraison Dominicale, for three-part coir and viols
9. De Profundus (Psalm 130), canto sacra for five-part choir, lute and organ
10. Psaume 98: Chantez à Dieu, for five solo voices and lute
11. Gaude et laetere, canto sacra for five-part choir, lutes and figured bass
12. Ecce prandium, cantio sacra for five-part choir, lutes and figured bass

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck Choral Works 2/3
1. Psalm 122: Gefreut hat sich mein Herz und Muth (à 4)
2. Psalm 42: Ainsi qu'on oit le cerf bruire (à 8)
3. Vide, homo, quae pro te patior (à 5)
4. Psalm 43: Revenge moy, pren la querelle (à 8)
5. Non omnis qui dicit mihi (à 5)
6. In te Domine speravi (à 5)
7. Qui vult venire post me (à 5)
8, Beati pauperes (à 5)
9. Psalm 108: Mon coeur est dispos, Ô mon Dieu (à 6)
10. Psalm 23: Mon Dieu me paist (à 4, 5, 6)
11. Psalm 137: Estans assis aux rives aquatiques (à 4)
12. Cantate Domino (à 5)
13. Psalm 110: Le Toutpuissant à mon Seigneur (à 6)
14. Regina coeli latare (à 5)
15. Psalm 99: Or est maintenant l'Eternel regnant (à 6)

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck Choral Works 3/3
1. Diligam te Domine (à 5)
2. Psalm 109: O Dieu, mon honneur et ma gloire (à 6)
3. Tanto tempore vobiscum sum (à 5)
4. Psalm 77: A Dieux ma voix j'ai haussée (à 5)
5. Che giova posseder cittadi e regni (à 2)
6. Yeux qui guidez mon âme (à 3)
7. Dolcissimo ben mio (à 3)
8. O domine Jesu Christe (à 5)
9. Psalm 114: Quand Israel hors d'Egypte sortit (à 4)
10. Timor Domini (à 5)
11. Mein junges Leben hat ein End' (à 4)
12. Qual vive Salamandra



John Attey’s optimistically titled The First Booke of Ayres becomes the last published book exclusively devoted to ayres for voices and lute, just 25 years since John Dowland began this type of publication. 

John Attey - The First Booke Of Ayres
00:00 - On A Time
02:49 - The Gordian Knot
04:29 - What IS All This World
05:58 - In A Groue 
10:02 - Shall I Tell You
11:53 - My Dearest And Deuinest
14:27 - Bright Starre
18:20 - Think Not 'Tis I Alone
19:25 - Joy My Muse
20:39 - My Dayes
22:20 - Madame For You
25:27 - Resound My Voice
28:12 - Vaine Hope Adue
29:38 - Sweet Was The Song

English composer Matthew Locke is born (c. 1621–23) around this time. 

Salamone Rossi publishes his Fifth Book of Madrigals and composes Hashirim asher lish’lomo (The Songs of Solomon), featuring polyphonic settings of synagogue songs, and Hebrew psalms and hymns. The title of the work appears to be a pun on Rossi’s first name, as there are no actual text settings from The Songs of Solomon. In the preface of the collection the publisher (and Rossi’s pupil) Rabbi Leo da Modena attempts to justify the use of polyphony in Jewish worship by referencing the Talmud and rabbinical texts. 

Songs of Solomon, by Salomone Rossi.

15 January
French playwright, actor and librettist Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (later Moliere) is born in Paris. 

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière (15 January 1622 – 17 February 1673), was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Molière's best known works are The Misanthrope, The School for Wives, Tartuffe, The Miser, The Imaginary Invalid, and The Bourgeois Gentleman.


Born into a prosperous family and having studied at the Collège de Clermont (now Lycée Louis-le-Grand), Molière was well suited to begin a life in the theatre. Thirteen years as an itinerant actor helped him polish his comic abilities while he began writing, combining Commedia dell'arte elements with the more refined French comedy.

Samuel Scheidt brings out his Concertus sacri, a collection of sacred vocal concertos with instrumental obbligato parts and sinfonias. 

Samuel Scheidt. Concertus Sacri.
Concertus II: "Laudate Dominum in Sanctis" a 6.
Versus 1 "Laudate Dominum"
Versus 2 "Laudate eum in Virtutibus eius"
Versus 3 "Laudate eum in sono tubae"
Versus 4 "Laudate eum in psalterio et cythara"

Samuel Scheidt. Concertus Sacri.
Concertus II: "Laudate Dominum in Sanctis" a 6.
Versus 5 "Laudate eum in tympano et choro"
Versus 6 "Laudate eum in chordis et organo"
Versus 7 "Laudate eum in cymbalis"
Versus 8 "Omnis spiritus"

Thomas Tomkins issues sacred and secular pieces in Songs of 3. 4. 5. 6. parts. The collection includes his poignant five-part anthem When David heard

Songs of 3. 4. 5. 6. parts.

Songs of three parts:

Our hasty life away doth post

No more I will thy love

Sure there is no god of Love

Fond men, that do so highly prize

How great delight

Love, cease tormenting

Songs of four parts:

O let me live for true love (the first part)

O let me die for true love (the second part)

Oyez! Has any found a lad?

Weep no more, thou sorry Boy (the first part)

Yet again, as soon revived (the second part)

Was ever wretch tormented?

Songs of five parts:

To the shady woods

Too much I once lamented

Come, shepherds, sing with me

Cloris, whenas I woo

See, see the shepherds' Queen

Phyllis, now cease to move me

When David heard

Phyllis, yet see him dying

Fusca, in thy starry eyes

Adieu, ye city-prisoning towers

The fauns and satyrs tripping

Songs of six voices:

When I observe

Music divine

Oft did I marle

Woe is me

It is my well-beloved's voice

Turn unto the Lord

Thomas Tomkins When David Heard

Thomas Tomkins - Woe is me

John Attey

John Attey (d. c. 1640) was an English composer of part-songs or lute airs.

Little is known about his life. He appears to have been patronised by John Egerton, 1st Earl of Bridgewater and the Countess Frances, to whom he dedicates his First Booke of Ayres of Foure Parts, with Tableture for the Lute, in 1622. On the title-page of this work he calls himself a "Gentleman and Practitioner of Musicke." It contains fourteen songs in four parts, which may be sung as part-songs or as solos by a soprano voice, accompanied by the lute, or the lute and bass-viol. The suggestion that the accompaniment could be lute alone is unusual.

As no second collection appeared, it is probable that the composer did not meet with sufficient encouragement in all cases. Besides, the English madrigal period was rapidly declining; indeed, the book is among the last known books of lute airs. He died at Ross about 1640.

Matthew Locke

Matthew Locke (c. 1621 – August 1677) was an English Baroque composer and music theorist.


Locke was born in Exeter and later trained in the choir of Exeter Cathedral, under Edward Gibbons, the brother of Orlando Gibbons. At the age of eighteen Locke travelled to the Netherlands, possibly converting to Roman Catholicism at the time.

Matthew Locke - Suite 1 & 2

John Attey
Matthew Locke


Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Day share the responsibilities of choirmaster and organist at Westminster Abbey. 

Johann Hermann Schein publishes Fontana d’lsrael (Fountain of Israel), composed after the classic Italian madrigal style with texts mainly set for five voices with continuo.

Johann Hermann Schein - Fontana d’lsrael

Johann Hermann Schein - Israelis Brünnlein

27 March
Filipe de Magalhaes becomes mestre de capela at the royal court in Portugal. 

4 July
William Byrd, England’s leading composer, dies in Stondon Massey, Essex, aged about 83. 

6 July
Italian composer Jacopo Melani is born in Pistoia. 

Heinrich Schutz composes his oratorio-style Resurrection History (Op. 3) in Dresden. The work features liturgical recitative (not as freely expressive as operatic recitative), as well as solos, duets, choruses and independent instrumental parts. 

Heinrich Schütz - Historia der Auferstehung Jesu Christi (Op. 3)

France's foremost composer-organist Jehan Titelouze publishes his Hymnes de l’Eglise, a collection of organ pieces based on plainsong.

Jehan Titelouze - Veni Creator, 1. verset - Hymnes de l'Eglise pour toucher sur l'orgue 

Rouen Cathedral, by Claude Mone, where Titelouze worked from 1588 until his death.

5 August
Italian composer and singer Antonio Cesti is baptised in Arezzo. 

30 November
Infamous in later life for drunkenness, foul language and blasphemy, English composer Thomas Weelkes dies at the house of a friend, Henry Drinkwater, in the parish of St Brides, London, aged 47. He is remembered chiefly for his madrigals and anthems. 

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, Austrian composer and violinist, born.

John PlayfordEnglish bookseller, publisher, minor composer, born.

Jacopo Melani

Jacopo Melani (6 July 1623 – 18 August 1676) was an Italian composer and violinist of the Baroque era. He was born and died in Pistoia, and was the brother of composer Alessandro Melani and singer Atto Melani.

Jacopo Melani - Non m'ami? Nò nò!

Antonio Cesti

Pietro Antonio Cesti, byname Marc’ Antonio, (baptized Aug. 5, 1623, Arezzo, Tuscany [Italy]—died Oct. 14, 1669, Florence), composer who, with Francesco Cavalli, was one of the leading Italian composers of the 17th century.

Cesti studied in Rome and then moved to Venice, where his first known opera, Orontea, was produced in 1649. In 1652 he became chapelmaster to Archduke Ferdinand of Austria at Innsbruck, a post he combined for a time with membership in the papal choir. From 1666 to 1669 he was vice chapelmaster to the imperial court in Vienna.

Throughout the 17th century his operas were widely performed in Italy and elsewhere. His most sumptuous opera, Il pomo d’oro (1667; The Golden Apple); his masterpiece, Dori (1661); and his most popular opera, Orontea, appear in modern editions. He is said to have written about 100 operas, but only 15 are extant. Christ Church, Oxford, Eng., possesses an important manuscript collection of 18 secular and three sacred cantatas. Numerous other cantatas are preserved elsewhere.

His cantatas and his religious plays show the influence of the more conservative, contrapuntal Roman school; his operas, that of the more progressive Venetian school. But the solemn and lyrical vocal lines of his cantatas reflect the bel canto style that he helped introduce from the cantata into the opera. In this, in his harmonic language, and in his emphasis on the singer and the aria, as against text and recitative, he foreshadowed operatic developments of the 18th century.

ANTONIO CESTI - Dormi ben mio (Orontea, 1656)

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (c. 1623 - between 29 February and 20 March 1680) was an Austrian composer and violinist of the middle Baroque era. 


Schmelzer was born in Scheibbs, Lower Austria. Nothing is known about his early years. His activities before 1643 are similarly unknown–the composer is first mentioned in a document dated 28 June 1643, relating to his first marriage. He is referred to as a cornettist at St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom), Vienna. The date of his arrival to Vienna is unknown, but he probably worked at the court chapel in the late 1630s, in the employ of Ferdinand II and, after 1637, Ferdinand III. Schmelzer's colleagues at the chapel included such distinguished composers as Johann Jakob Froberger, Giovanni Valentini, and Antonio Bertali.


Schmelzer was officially appointed court violinist in 1649. Our knowledge of his position, duties, and activities is incomplete. He apparently rose to prominence as a violin virtuoso, as well as a composer, and enjoyed a close relationship with Emperor Leopold I, who was a well-known patron of the arts and a composer himself. Schmelzer started publishing his music in 1659. He was appointed vice-Kapellmeister on 13 April 1671. Eventually, after his predecessor Giovanni Felice Sances had died, Schmelzer became Kapellmeister, on 1 October 1679. Unfortunately, he fell victim of the plague early in 1680, and died in Prague.

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer: Sonata Quarta

John Playford

John Playford, (born 1623, Norwich, Norfolk, Eng.—died November 1686?, London), English music publisher and bookseller whose popular and frequently expanded collection of music and dance steps remains the principal source of knowledge of English country dance steps and melodies.

His book, The English Dancing-Master (1650, but dated 1651; critical ed., M. Dean-Smith, 1958), originally contained 104 dances and accompanying tunes set to the fiddle; its 18th and last edition (1728, published by John Young) held about 700. Many of the Playford dances were revived in the 20th century.By 1648 Playford had established his business in London, where he became a clerk of the Temple Church and moved to the Inner Temple.

The friend as well as the publisher of most of the English composers of the time, Playford was himself a competent musician and often included his own song and psalm music in his collections of music. His Brief Introduction to the Skill of Musick, a handbook on music theory and practice, went into many editions between 1654 and 1730 and was revised in 1694 by the composer Henry Purcell. An elegy on Playford’s death, “Gentle shepherds, you that know,” by Nahum Tate, was set to music by Purcell.

Playford’s son Henry Playford (1657–1709) continued the family business. His publications include two posthumous collections of music by Purcell.

"Hole in the wall" -  John Playford'

Jacopo Melani
Antonio Cesti
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer
John Playford


Giacomo Carissimi is appointed organist at Tivoli Cathedral, where he had previously been a chorister. 

Girolamo Frescobaldi publishes his first book of keyboard Capricci, in Rome. 

Girolamo Frescobaldi - Capricci  I-XII

Monteverdi's enthralling Comhattimento di Tancredi et Clorinda, depicting a fight between a Christian crusader and a female Saracen warrior, premieres at the Venetian palace of Girolamo Mozzenigo. Scored for two costumed singers, a narrator, string ensemble and continuo, this dramatic dialogue features the composers stile concitato (excited style), by which the music corresponds to the battle action in a strikingly descriptive manner. 

Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda - Claudio Monteverdi 

Samuel Scheldt publishes his three-volume Tabulatura nova, an instructive collection of sacred and secular works for organ. 


Samuel Scheidt - "Tabulatura Nova" 1624

Johann Hermann Schein publishes the earliest collection of German continuo madrigals in Diletti pastorali or Hirten Lust (Pastoral Delights). It represents a secular counterpart to the composers sacred Fontana 
d 'Israel of the previous year. 

Johann Hermann Schein - Diletti Pastorali
0:00 Ringsum mich schwebet Traurigkeit
2:45 In Filli schönen Äugelein
6:23 O Scheiden. o bitter Scheiden
10:02 Heulen und schmerzlichs Weinen
12:14 O seidene Härelein

Giovanni Andrea Bontempi, Italian composer, born.

Giovanni Andrea Bontempi

Giovanni Andrea Bontempi (ca. 1624 – 1 July 1705) was an Italian castrato singer, later composer, historian, music theorist, and assistant kapellmeister to Heinrich Schütz at Dresden from 1657. He was born Giovanni Andrea Angelini, in Perugia but later took the surname of his patron Cesare Bontempi. His Il Paride was the first Italian-language opera to be given in Dresden. It was first performed in November 1662 at the Dresden Castle to celebrate the marriage of Erdmude Sophia, the daughter of the Elector of Saxony, and Christian Ernst, Count of Brandenburg. He composed two other operas, both of which also premiered in Dresden: Dafne performed in 1671 to open the Opernhaus am Taschenberg, and Jupiter und Jo first performed in 1673.

Bontempi spent the last years of his life in Brufa (near Perugia) and is buried in the chapel of SS. Cosma e Damiano there.

Giovanni Bontempi - Il Paride; Sinfonia & Aria "Non conosce, non sa"

Giovanni Andrea Bontempi

Peter Paul Rubens - Perseus Freeing Andromeda

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