Recordings: Renaissance

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 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 context it was fun to record some pieces by Anonymous, Pierre Phalèse, Joachim van de Hove, John Dowland, Thomas Robinson, Adriaen Denss and Martin Peerson after all these years.


Anonymous is one of the most famous composers of the Renaissance. Their music often appeared in the various music collections of that era. At that time no one bothered about copyright, because a publication was an honor.

Pierre Phalèse

Pierre Phalèse (1510 – 1573) came from a family of printers and publishers. He specialized in music publishing. In those days he was more of a music collector than a composer, “borrowing” music from many well-known composers of his time. They were very happy with that, because publication -a rare medium in this time- was an honor.

Joachim van den Hove

Much of the work of the Flemish composer Joachim van den Hove (1567 – 1620) appeared in 1612 in the collection Delitiae Musicae, a Latin title that roughly translates as Musical Delicacies. Such bundles did well with the well-to-do bourgeoisie of those days.

John Dowland

In the sixteenth century, John Dowland (1562 -1626) actually had the status of today’s well-known pop musician with an international career. His songs are even now being rediscovered by nowadays pop musicians.

Thomas Robinson

Writing a biography of Thomas Robinson is no easy task, as little is known of his life. His years of life, 1560 – 1610, are a historical guess. His well-known work, The Schoole of Musicke, was published in 1603 and has long been the standard instruction book for instruments such as the Lute, the Bandore and the Viola da Gamba.

Adriaen Denss

Adrian Denss (~1545 -~1598) was a German lute composer who was born in Antwerp. He is best known for his collection Florilegium, which was published in Cologne in 1594 just before his death.

Martin Peerson

Martin Peerson (1571 – 1650) was one of the virginalists of the English Renaissance. He composed secular consort music as well as sacred works.

Nicolas Vallet

The French composer and lutenist Nicolas Vallet (ca. 1553 – 1626) was a Huguenot and was persecuted because of his belief. He avoided political problems in France after the St. Bartholomew Day in 1572, seeking refuge in Amsterdam, an imposing metropole in those days.

 In Amsterdam, Vallet published amongst others Le Secret des Muses in 1613, an interesting collection that provides a good impression of the lute culture in the Low Countries. The collection includes arrangements of popular songs, religious hymns and various dance forms.


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