The Renaissance Era

Historical Events 1500 – 1600:
|DL:|African Slaves are taken across the Atlantic to work on sugar |
||plantations – 1510. |
|ED |University of Valencia founded – 1500|
|: ||
|RP |Ahmed ad Mansur leads Moroccans into a battle against the|
|: |Songhai – 1500 |
|VA |Nuts and Bolts are first used in Europe – 1550’s. |
|: ||
|M :|William Shakespeare is born – 1564.|
|PH |Elizabeth I begins her reign as Queen of England – 1588. |
|: ||
|ST |The First toilet is invented – 1589.|
|: ||
|LT:|Sir Walter Raleigh born – 1552|
|PH : Politics and|M : Music|
|History | |
|VA : Visual Arts|ST : Science and|
| |Technology|
|RP : Religion and|ED : Education|
|Philosophy| |
|DL : Daily Life|LT : Literature and |
| |Theatre |
The Musical Style:
The Renaissance era was a period of history between 1500 and 1600 A.D.

The word Renaissance means ‘rebirth’ and in this period there were
massive discoveries in medicine, music, literature and many other fields,
hence the name given to this period. As many discoveries were made, in
all fields, composers were inspired and took a more keen interest in
music and writing. Mostly they turned their attention onto the church and
its music so many of the pieces composed in this era was written as
church music or for mass choirs. Another name for this music is ‘Choral
polyphony’ – choral meaning voice and polyphony meaning layers e.g.

polyphonic ring tones. This is what made the music in the renaissance era
noticeably different from previous periods. Music was written in layers
that ‘overlapped’ or ‘layered’ each other. This new technique of
‘overlapping’ had never been used before so was unique to the church and
its choirs. Originally Choral Polyphony was meant to be sung without
instruments but Sackbuts (early Trombones) and valve less Trumpets began
to be used and other instruments of the same type began to be used with
mass choirs. There were several characteristics of the Renaissance music
period that makes it unique from the other periods. These characteristics
are that music was still based on modes, but gradually more accidentals
creep in. Another is that the composers paid more attention to the flow
and progression of chords and harmonies. A third characteristic is that
in secular music (non-religious music) more instruments were used with
vocals than sacred music (religious music). The bass line began to
feature in music, in this period, below the tenor. Finally most of the
instruments in the Renaissance period were divided up into families like
they are today.

Thomas Tallis (1505 – 1585):
Thomas Tallis was born in England during the year of 1505 and became a
composer and organist. He composed and played for five decades under four
monarchs and wrote music for both Catholic and Protestant churches,
although he himself was a Catholic.

He began to write pieces of music for humble church choral societies and
was recognised as a composer so rose to the leading member of ‘England’s
Chapel Royal’.

In recognition of his work people now refer to him as ‘The Father of
English Church Music’. He wrote many pieces of church music in his life
but his most famous is the 40-part Monet; Spem in alium.

Tallis studied with William Byrd, another famous English composer, and in
1575 they were granted exclusive permission from Elizabeth I to print
music. Together they printed/published Cantiones Sacrae; this is a
collection of 38 Latin motets.

Ten years after this piece was published Thomas Tallis sadly died at the
age of 80.

The Renaissance period bought with it many famous pieces of music written
in the era.

Such as:
o ‘Spem in Alium’ – by Thomas Tallis in ?
o ‘Mass for Three Voices’ – by William Byrd in 1594.

o ‘Mass for Four Voices’ – by William Byrd in 1592.

o ‘Mass for Four Voices’ – by William Byrd in 1592.

o ‘Kyrie’ – by William Byrd in ?
o ‘Gloria’ – by William Byrd in ?

Historical Events (1600 – 1750):
|DL |Dutch establish trading settlements in Brazil export sugar and |
|: |silver – 1630|
|ED |Harvard College founded – 1636|
|: ||
|RP |English Baptist Church established in Amsterdam – 1609|
|: ||
|VA | Rubens appointed court painter to Archduke Albert and|
|: |Archduchess Isabella, Antwerp – 1609|
|M :|William Byrd, Gradualia – 1605-1607|
|PH |James I (James VI of Scotland) becomes King of England (until |
|: |1625) – 1603|
|ST |Newton discovers the spectrum – 1666|
|: ||
|LT:|Shakespeare, Hamlet – 1600-1601 |
|PH : Politics and|M : Music|
|History | |
|VA : Visual Arts|ST : Science and|
| |Technology|
|RP : Religion and|ED : Education|
|Philosophy| |
|DL : Daily Life|LT : Literature and |
| |Theatre |
The Musical Style:
The Baroque period was an era stretching for about one hundred and fifty
years from 1600 – 1750. What makes this period unique is that the
Major/Minor key was developed due to more accidentals appearing in pieces
of music. During this time several other forms of music and entertainment
(using music) were developed; like Opera, Sonata, Oratorio, Suite, Fugue
and Concerto. Also the Baroque period saw the rise in popularity of
Orchestras, which meant that the Violin and other stringed instruments
became a more dominant figure in music and was a more thought of instrument
during the composing of pieces.

As instrumental music was considered as equal as vocal music the
characteristics of the Baroque period differed immensely from those of the
Renaissance. The characteristics are that;
o The Basso Continuo ( Pieces Figured Bass).

o One mood was used throughout the entire piece.

o Important String sections were introduced.

o Modes were replaced by the Major/Minor key system.

o Many different forms are used (e.g. Binary, Fugue).

o Many types of music, e.g. The Chorale, Opera, the Dance Suite were

o Energetic rhythms, long melodies and contrasts (especially dynamics,
but also in timbres) are introduced into piece of music.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
Johann Sebastian Bach (March 25, 1685-July 28, 1750) was a German Baroque
composer. He was one of the greatest composers of all time, but during his
lifetime, he was little-known and was mostly recognized for performing on
the organ. Bach composed in many established musical forms, including, for
example, the cantata and fugue, and developed them into complex and sublime
pieces. He composed over 1,100 works in almost every musical genre (except

Bach was born and died in Germany, and spent his entire life there, working
as an organist, teacher, and composer. During his life he had more than 20
children and four of them became composers themselves!
Bach’s father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, was also a local town musician and it
is thought that he gave him his first music lessons. Sadly when Bach was
10, his mother and father died (within a year of each other). Johann moved
in with his brother and learnt to play the organ.

In 1707 Bach married hi cousin, and they eventually had seven children.

Shortly after the marriage in 1708, Bach was appointed organist and chamber
musician to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar. During the next nine years Bach
composed many of his finest organ compositions, and was known as a very
talented organist.

In 1717, Bach became Kapellmeister (the chapel master, who directed and/or
composed music for a church or chapel) in the court of the music-lover
Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen.

During this time, Bach composed some of his major works such as; the
Brandenburg Concertos (1721), The Well-Tempered Clavier (first book, 1722).

In 1721, the Prince married a woman who did not share the Prince’s interest
in music, and the Prince’s support of Bach lessened. Bach would soon leave.

In 1740, Bach’s eyesight was failing and two eye operations resulted in
Bach’s complete blindness. These operations also damaged his health and may
have resulted in his death. He died of a stroke on July 28, 1750. Bach is
buried at St. John’s cemetery, Leipzig. Bach’s death in 1750 marked the end
of the Baroque period in music.

Most of the major pieces in this era were composed by Bach such as;
o Act III, Scene 7 from The Coronation of Poppea – by Claudio
Monteverdi in 1711
o “Dido’s Lament” from Act III of Dido and Aeneas – by Henry Purcell
o Henry Purcell – Antonio Vivaldi – Spring Violin Concerto (No. 1 from
The Four Seasons, Op. 8) – by Henry Purcell in 1725
o Prelude ; Fugue No. 2 in C minor (from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book
I) – by J.S. Bach in
o Suite in D Major, Water Music – by G.F. Handel in
Historical Events (1750 – 1800):
|DL |Great Britain adopts the Georgian Calendar – 1752|
|: ||
|ED |Moscow University founded – 1755 |
|: ||
|RP |Qaja Dynasty begins and lasts until 1925 – 1794.|
|: ||
|VA | Beginning of Construction of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London;|
|: |architect, Christopher Wren (1632-1723) – 1675|
|M 😐 W.A. Mozart performs in London – 1764|
|PH |The Industrial Revolution (Britain) – 1760’s – 1830’s|
|: ||
|ST |First manned flight, in a hot air balloon – 1783|
|: ||
|LT:|The Dictionary of the English Language is published by Samuel |
||Johnson – 1755 |
|PH : Politics and|M : Music|
|History | |
|VA : Visual Arts|ST : Science and|
| |Technology|
|RP : Religion and|ED : Education|
|Philosophy| |
|DL : Daily Life|LT : Literature and |
| |Theatre |
The Musical Style:
The Classical Period saw the rise of all orchestras and Operas and they
both began to expand. The orcheatra, in this period, consisted of; one or
two flutes, two oboes, teo clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two
trumpets, two kettledrums and the string instruments and so was very
popular with the upper class as was opera. The harpsicord began to fall out
of use and gradually wind instruments bacame very popular.

Unlike in the Baroque and late Renaissance periods the music was once
again homophonic as opposed to polyphonic and the texture of the music
produced in this time was slow and graceful.

A symphony is a sonata for an orchestra but instead of having three
sections it had three movements, later a fourth was added. Stamitz wa sthe
first main symphony composer but Haydn and Mozart perfected his work leter
in the 18th centuary. The first movement – was usually fast and in a
sonata form. The second movement – Slower and used more vocals. The third
movement – Hayden and Mozart write a minute trio here. The fourth movement
– Fast and light-hearted.

As the music was homophonic (had one layer) the characteristics changed.

The main characteristics of this period were;
o Less complicated texture than Baroque (more homophonic).

o Emphasis on beauty, elegance and balance.

o More variety and contrast within a piece than Baroque (dynamics,
instruments, pitch, tempo, key, mood and timbre).

o Melodies tended to be shorter than those in baroque, with clear-cut

o The orchestra increases in size and range. The harpsichord fails out
of use. The woodwind becornes a self-contained section.

o The piano takes over, often with Alberti bass accompaniment.

o Importance was given to instrumental music – sonata, trio, string
quartet, symphony, concerto.

o Sonata form was the most important design.

Mozart (1756 – 1791):
Wolfgang Amadeud Mozart was born in 1756, in Salzburg and was the son of a
composer. He was to become the biggest musical prodigy ever!
From a very early age his father saw his talent and exhibited the youngh
boy in Paris, Munich and Vienna. Whilst Mozart was on his ‘Tour of Europe’
with his father he was exposed to a wide variety of of music and at the age
of twelve (1768) wrote his first opera – ‘Bastien und Bastienne’ and a year
later finished his second – ‘La Finta Semplice’.

In 1775 Mozart had a very unrewarding position at Salzburg Court and
travelled with his mother to find a mor eexciting and rewarding poisition.

In 1781, after composing the opera ‘Idomeneo’ he resigned from his post in
Salzburg hoping to work in a court in Vienna.

In Vienna he wrote the hugely famous ‘Marriage Of Figaro’ and was
appointed at the court in Vienna but he had finantial difficulties and his
health was deteriorating. He died in 1791 at the age of 35 in Vienna.

The classical yielded many great pieces of music from both Haydn and
o The Marriage of Figaro – by Mozart in 1786.

o Mass in Time of War – By Haydn in 1796.

o Idomeneo – By Mozart in 1781.

o The Magic Flute – By Mozart in 1791.

o Women are like that – by Mozart in 1790.

o Don Giovanni – by Mozart in 1787.

Thomas Tallis
William Byrd
Music composed by
Manuscript of Bach
A Manuscript of one of Mozart’s operas