In my adolescent years, I learned at school that the Renaissance was the rebirth of human individuality, from Memento Mori to Carpe Diem. In the Medieval time, people were bound, read suppressed, by the collective of church and nobility, in the Renaissance the self-awareness returned. The long forgotten classical knowledge of the Greek and Roman culture came into view again. It was no easy and quiet time, this rebirth definitely had its labour pains in the form of merciless and often senseless violence that left its consequences up to today.
When I listen to Renaissance music, I am often surprised that the misery and turmoil of those days seem to be absent. The music seems to be disconnected from the suffering of the times, leading a life on its own. Maybe that’s the essence indeed, that the music is a refuge for the misery, representing a quiet and serene life that people would like to have.
When I started to play the classical guitar, my first pieces were Renaissance music. I guess that was caused by the purchase of The Renaissance Guitar by Frederic Noad. Within this style, I had preference for English composers (I liked their folk song arrangements) and the Dutch/Flemish composers (a bit of nationalistic interest, I guess).
In this Renaissance section, you will find pieces by the “Dutchmen” (they all originated form the Low Countries in the end) Nicolas Vallet and Pierre Phalèse, the Englishmen John Dowland, Thomas Robinson and Anthony Holborne, the Spaniard Luis Milan and quite a few other composers (amongst them the famous Mr. Anonymous) in a mixed category.