Composers/Musicians of the Renaissance Period

Madrigals 1606, by Giulio Cesare Antonelli, autograph music score.
DEA PICTURE LIBRARY/Getty Images

The Renaissance signified the rebirth of classical learning and an increased patronage of music. Here are some of the notable musicians during that period.

01
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Jacob Arcadelt

The Flemish Jacob Arcadelt, also called Jacques Arcadelt, was one of the composers who helped establish madrigals as a serious musical art form. He lived in Italy and France.

William Byrd was one of the leading English composers of the late Renaissance who helped develop English madrigals. He wrote church, secular, consort, and keyboard music, among other types. He served as organist at Chapel Royal, a post he shared with his mentor Thomas Tallis. More »

03
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Claudin de Sermisy

French singer Claudin de Sermisy was one of the composers who greatly influenced Parisian Chansons. He served multiple in royal chapels, such as that of King Louis XII.

04
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Josquin Desprez

Josquin Desprez was one of the most important composers of this period. His music was widely published and appreciated in Europe. Desprez wrote both sacred and secular music, focusing more on motets, of which he wrote more than a hundred.

05
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Tomas Luis de Victoria

Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria composed mainly sacred music during the Renaissance and ranks among the best of the 1500s.

06
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John Dowland

English musician John Dowland, famous for his lute music throughout Europe, composed beautiful melancholic music.

07
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Guillaume Dufay

Franco-Flemish composer Guillaume Dufay is known as the transitional figure to the Renaissance. His religious work laid the foundation for composers who followed in the latter half of the 1400s.

08
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John Farmer

English madrigal composer John Farmer's work titled "Fair Phyllis I Saw Sitting All Alone," was one of the most popular pieces of his time.

09
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Giovanni Gabrieli

Giovanni Gabrieli wrote music for St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice. Gabrieli experimented with choral and instrumental groups, positioning them on different sides of the basilica and making them perform alternately or in unison.

10
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Carlo Gesualdo

Carlo Gesualdo is now considered to be an innovative composer of Italian madrigals, but until his work was reconsidered in the late 20th century, his private life (killing his adulteress wife and her lover) is what had made him renowned.

11
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Clement Janequin

French composer Clement Janequin was also an ordained priest. He specialized in chansons and took the form to a new degree by using descriptive elements.

12
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Orlandus Lassus

The Flemish Orlandus Lassus, also called Orlando di Lasso, ​composed church and secular vocal music. As a boy, he was kidnapped three times to sing in different choirs.

13
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Luca Marenzio

The Italian Luca Marenzio was one of the most renowned madrigal composers, known for his innovative harmonics.

14
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Claudio Monteverdi

Italian composer and musician Claudio Monteverdi is known as the transitional figure to the Baroque music era and was hugely important in the development of opera.

15
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Jakob Obrecht

Jacob Obrecht was a well-known Franco-Flemish composer, known for beautiful melodies and harmonies.

One of the most influential composers of the early Renaissance, Johannes Ockeghem is considered one of the fathers of Renaissance music. More »

17
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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Italian composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina wrote secular, liturgical, and religious pieces and worked at St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome.

Thomas Tallis was an English composer known for his mastery of contrapuntal techniques. Although there is little information about his early years, it is known that composer William Byrd became one of his pupils. More »

19
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Adrian Willaert

One of the most versatile composers of the Renaissance, Adrian Willaert founded the Venetian School and was a pioneer of abstract instrumental music.