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Index by Period

Renaissance Era
(1450 - 1600)

The Renaissance was a time of rebirth and massive cultural upheaval. Artists of all kinds in western Europe became more aware of the classical past and the world beyond the narrow confines of medieval theology. Music was nonetheless influenced by the general receptivity to new ideas.

The Flemish composer Lassus and the Italian composer Palestrina were both masters of Renaissance polyphony, in which voice parts are given equal importance and share in the melody. Tomás Victoria, from Spain, was one to the great composers of counterpoint. And, in England, secular music flourished with Byrd, who wrote madrigals, instrumental works, and solo songs in addition to his church music.

The madrigal was one of the most influential and most popular forms of music during the Renaissance. It consisted of a composition for several voices and was generally unaccompanied. The text usually followed amorous or pastoral themes (secular in content rather than religious). The composer Lassus wrote some 150 madrigals, which are highly expressive in their strong rhythms and dramatic mood swings. It was Palestrina's skillful use of the secular madrigal as a basis for many of his sacred works that gave his music its unique quality.

contributed by Gifford, Katya

Composers Related Articles
William Byrd
John Dowland
Orlande de Lassus
Thomas Morley
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Thomas Tallis
John Taverner


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