“Renaissance," from Old French,
meaning "rebirth," usually in a
The Renaissance period in western
history was a cultural movement
that began in Florence, Italy
in approximately 1400 A.D. and
gradually spread through most
(but not all) of Europe.
The Renaissance marks the passing
of European society from an
exclusively religious orientation
to a more secular one, and from
an age of unquestioning faith
and mysticism to one of belief
in reason and scientific inquiry.
Types of Renaissance Music
As in the Medieval period, sacred
vocal music (religious music that
is sung) is still very prevalent in
But in addition to this, there is
also a lot more non-sacred
In addition to sacred music such as
motets and masses, there is a new
form of non-sacred vocal music in
the Renaissance called the madrigal.
Musical Example - Madrigal
John Farmer (English, 1570- 1605)
"Fair Phyllis I Saw Sitting All Alone"
Musical Example – Madrigal #2
The Silver Swan
by Orlando Gibbons
The silver swan,
who living had no note,
when Death approached,
unlocked her silent throat.
Leaning her breast
upon the reedy shore,
thus sang her first and last,
and sang no more:
"Farewell, all joys!
O Death, come close mine eyes!
More Geese than
Swans now live,
more Fools than Wise."
Most Significant Musical Development
During The Renaissance:
The rise of instrumental music was the
most significant musical development
during the Renaissance. Music for
groups of instruments was written to
accompany vocal music such as
motets, as dance music, and also
as a pure form of art.
Important Renaissance Composers
• Josquin des Prez (Flemish; 1455-1521)
• Giovanni Palestrina (Italian; 1526-1594)
• Orlando de Lassus - Flemish; 1530-1594)
• William Byrd - (English; 1543-1623)
• Tomás Luis de Victoria (Spanish; 1548-1611)
• Giovanni Gabrieli - (Italian; 1553-1612)
• Michael Pretorius (German; 1571-1621)
• Orlando Gibbons - (English; 1583-1625)
After flourishing for 200 years,
the Renaissance Period ended
in approximately 1600 AD,
with the advent of the
of musical history.
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