Franco-Flemish School  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In music, the Franco-Flemish School refers, somewhat imprecisely, to the style of polyphonic vocal music composition in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, and to the composers who wrote it. See Renaissance music for a more detailed description of the musical style, and links to individual composers from this time.

The composers of this time and place, and the music they produced, are also known as the Dutch School. As the country borders in this period can not be compared with any national borders today, the term "Dutch" may be confusing. Few of the artists originated in what is now the Netherlands. Instead, the word "Dutch" refers to the Low Countries, roughly corresponding to modern Belgium Flanders with for instance Adriaan Willaert and Jacob Obrecht or Wallonia with for instance Josquin des Prez and Orlande de Lassus , northern France and the Netherlands. Most artists were born in Hainaut, Flanders and Brabant. During periods of political stability, this was a center of cultural activity for more than two hundred years, although the exact centers shifted location during this time, and by the end of the sixteenth century the focal point of the musical world shifted from this region to Italy.

While many of the composers were born in the region loosely known as the Netherlands, they were famous for working elsewhere. Dutchmen moved to Italy, to Spain, to towns in Germany and France and other parts of Europe, carrying their styles with them. The diffusion of their technique, especially after the revolutionary development of printing, produced the first true international style since the unification of Gregorian chant in the 9th century.

Following are five groups, or generations, that are sometimes distinguished in the Franco-Flemish school. It should be noted that development of the musical style was continuous, and these generations only provide useful reference points.

  • The First generation (1420-1450), dominated by Dufay, Binchois and Antoine Busnois; this group of composers is most often known as the Burgundian School
  • The Second generation (1450-1485), with Ockeghem as its main exponent
  • The Third generation (1480-1520): Obrecht, Isaac, Brumel and Josquin
  • The Fourth generation (1520-1560): Gombert, Willaert and Clemens non Papa
  • The Fifth generation (1560-1600): Lassus. By this time, many of the composers of polyphonic music were native to Italy and other countries: the Netherlandish style had naturalized on foreign soil, and become a true European style.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Franco-Flemish School" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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