On this page you will find a colourful collection of Renaissance composers. Below you can read some biographics, music is included on the Music page.
Pierre Attaignant (1494 – 1552) was a prominent French music printer and publisher of the Renaissance who was one of the earliest to use single-impression printing. (Earlier printers printed the staff and the notes in separate impressions.) Before 1527 Attaignant began using a newly invented movable music type, in which a fragment of a musical staff was combined with a note on each piece of type. He used the new type in a book of chansons, Chansons Nouvelles (1528). Because Attaignant’s single-impression method halved the time and labour formerly needed to print music, it was quickly adopted throughout Europe.
Attaignant was the first to use the printing press to achieve mass production in music publishing. In 1537 he became music printer and bookseller to the French king Francis I. His printings represent more than 150 outstanding composers of his day and include chansons, dance collections, masses, motets, psalms, and Passions. His 111 surviving publications are rich in information about early 16th-century music.
Jean Baptiste Besard
Jean Baptiste Besard (~1567- ~1617) was a versatile man. Besides lawyer and Doctor of Law he was lutenist and composer. He published two anthologies for lute: Novus Partus and Thesaurus Harmonicus. He did not stick to publishing music alone, he also wrote some books about law and medical subjects.
Joachim van den Hove
Much of the work of the Flemish composer Joachim van den Hove (1567 – 1620) was published in 1612 in the collection Delitiae Musicae, a Latin title that freely translates as Musical Delicacies. Anthologies like this were quite popular with the well-to-do class in those days.
The German lute composer Adrian Denss (~1545 -~1598) was born in the Flemish town of Antwerp and died in Cologne. He is mainly known for his anthology Florilegium which was published in Cologne in 1594, a few years before his death.
Michael Praetorius (1571 – 1621) was a German composer from the early Baroque era. His book Syntagma Musicum provides a nice description of the musical theory of those days and the used musical instruments. Beside writing this book, he collected and composed a large variety of Protestant church music.
We have little biographical data about Francis Cutting, he lived somewhere between 1571 and 1603. The pieces he left feature a distinctive style and often have cheerful themes, as you can hear in for instance his Almain.
Robert Johnson (1583 – 1683) was one of the important composers in the Elizabethan era in sixteenth/seventeenth century England. Besides, he was a member of the theatre company The Black Friars.
Francesco da Milano
The 16th century lute composer Francesco Canova da Milano (1497 – 1543) enjoyed a great reputation in Europe and amongst others played at the Papal court as a court musician. He composed a large number (ca 100) of contrapuntal works in free form (Fantasias and Recercares) for lute.
Luis de Narvaez
Luis de Narváez (1500 – 1560) was a 16th century vihuelist and composer at the court of Philip II of Spain. De Narváez was a composer of polyphonic choral works in the first place, yet he played and composed for the vihuela at a high level. This is obvious from his publications of Los seys libros del Delphin de música de cifra para tañer vihuela that came out in Vallaldid in 1538. The books contain a great number of pieces, amongst others Romances, Villancicos and Differencias, the latter being variations on then widely known songs.
Alonso de Mudarra
Together with vihuelistas like Luis Milan en Luys de Narváez, Alonso De Mudarra (ca.1510 – 1580 was responsible for the innovation of Spanish vocal and instrumental music in the Renaissance era. Much of his work has survived in his collection Tres libros de música en cifra para vihuela which he published in 1546 in Seville.
Enriquez de Valderrabano
Enriquez de Valderrabano (1500 – 1557) was a Spanish vihuela player at the court of the Duke of Bejar (near Salamanca) who published his works in 1547 in Libro de música de vihuela intitulado Silva de Sirenas. He had worked for years to compile the collection. This collection also contains a large number of transcripts of works by famous composers for the vihuela and lute from that time.
Martin Peerson (1571 – 1650) was one of the virginalists of the English Renaissance. He started his musical career as a boy choir singer and studied music at the University of Oxford, exchanging his Catholic faith for Protestantism and working for various noble prominent men in England and for the clergy in St. Pauls Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. He composed both worldly consort music and secular works.