List of Renaissance composers  

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

This is a list of composers active during the Renaissance period of European history. Since the 14th century is not usually considered by music historians to be part of the musical Renaissance, but part of the Middle Ages, composers active during that time can be found in the List of Medieval composers. Composers on this list had some period of significant activity after 1400, before 1600, or in a few cases they wrote music in a Renaissance idiom in the several decades after 1600.




The Burgundian School is a term used to denote a group of composers active in the 15th century in what is now northern and eastern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, centered on the court of the Dukes of Burgundy. The school also included some English composers at the time when part of modern France was controlled by England. The Burgundian School was the first phase of activity of the Franco-Flemish School, the central musical practice of the Renaissance in Europe.


Due in part to its isolation from mainland Europe, the English Renaissance began later than in some other parts of Europe. The Renaissance style also continued into a period in which many other European nations had already made the transition into the Baroque. While late medieval English music was influential on the development of the Burgundian style, most English music of the 15th century was lost, particularly during the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the time of Henry VIII. The Tudor period of the 16th century was a time of intense interest in music, and Renaissance styles began to develop with mutual influence from the mainland. Some English musical trends were heavily indebted to foreign styles, for example the English Madrigal School; others had aspects of continental practice as well as uniquely English traits. Composers included Thomas Tallis, John Dowland, Orlando Gibbons and William Byrd.


Image:Thomas Tallis.jpg
Thomas Tallis, c. 1505 – 1585



  • Hyett (fl. before 1548) Represented by a single work in the Gyffard partbooks
  • John Ensdale (fl. before 1548) Represented by a single work in the Gyffard partbooks
  • John Hake (fl. before 1548) Represented by a single work in the Gyffard partbooks
  • Walter Erly (16th cent.) Has a single work in the Peterhouse partbooks
  • Arthur Chamberlain (early 16th cent.) Also spelt Chamberlayne. Has a single work in the Peterhouse partbooks
  • John Ambrose (fl. 1520 to 1545) Few pieces survive
  • William Shelby (? – 1570) Also spelt Shelbye, Selby, Selbie, Selbye. Two liturgical keyboard pieces, a Miserere and Felix namque, survive in The Mulliner Book
  • Robert Okeland (fl. before 1548) Also spelt Hockland, Ockland. Represented by a single work in the Gyffard partbooks
  • Thomas Tallis (c. 1505 – 1585)
  • Christopher Tye (c. 1505 – ? 1572)
  • John Wood (fl. 1530) He is represented by a single work, an Exsurge Domine et dissipentur inimici, in the Christchurch partbooks
  • John Merbecke (also Marbeck) (c. 1510 – c. 1585) Produced the first musical setting for the English liturgy, publishing The Booke of Common Praier Noted 1549. Surviving works include a Missa Per arma iustitie Almost burnt as a heretic in 1543.
  • Osbert Parsley (1511 – 1585) Also spelt Parsely Wrote a set of Lamentations for Holy Week
  • E. Strowger (fl. early 16th cent.) Only a single piece for keyboard, a Miserere in a British Museum MS, can be attributed to him
  • Thomas Knyght (fl. 1530 to 1535) Presumably also spelt Knight. Has a single work in the Peterhouse partbooks, and three works in the Gyffard partbooks
  • Philip Alcocke (fl. before 1548) Represented by a single work in the Gyffard partbooks
  • John Sheppard (c. 1515 – 1559)
  • John Thorne (d. 1573) Exsultabunt sancti in a British Museum MS
  • Kyrton (fl. 1540 to 1550) Miserere for keyboard in a British Museum MS
  • John Black (c. 1520 – 1587)
  • Thomas Caustun (c. 1520 to 25 – 1569) Also spelt Causton
  • Richard Wynslate (d. 1572) Also spelt Wynslade. His keyboard piece Lucem tuamis in a British Museum MS
  • Henry Stenings (fl. before 1548 – after 1600) Also spelt Stonninge, Stoninge, Stoninges, Stoning, Stonings. Surviving consort works on MS are three five-part works - a Miserere, a Browning and an In Nomine - and a simpler, four-part In Nomine. A four-part Latin Magnificat is found in the Gyffard partbooks
  • Richard Allwood (fl. c. 1550 – 1570) Also spelt Alwood
  • Richard Edwardes (1525 – 1566) Also spelt Edwards
  • Hugh Sturmys (16th cent.) Has a single work in the Peterhouse partbooks
  • Thomas Wright (16th cent.) Also spelt Wrighte. He is represented by a single work in the Gyffard partbooks, a Nesciens mater
  • William Mundy (c. 1528 – before 1591) Father of John Mundy His output includes fine examples of both the large-scale Latin votive antiphon and the short English anthem, as well as Masses and Latin psalm settings; his style is vigorous and eloquent. He is represented in The Mulliner Book and in the Gyffard partbooks.
  • Robert Parsons (c. 1535 – 1572) Latin music includes antiphons, Credo quod redemptor, Domine quis habitabit, Magnificat and Jam Christus astra. Also three responds from the Office of the Dead, songs (including Pandolpho), In nomine settings for ensemble, and a galliard.
  • Thomas Whythorne (1528 – 1595)
  • John Heath (16th cent.) Contributed a Morning and Communion Service to Day's Certaine Notes, of 1560. Probably the composer of a Christe qui lux for keyboard in MS, ascribed to 'Heath'
  • Clement Woodcock (1540 – 1590) Also spelt Woodcoke, Woodecock. His Browning my dear is one of several pieces of the period based on a popular tune, also known as The leaves be green
  • John Cuk (16th cent.) An extant mass on Venit dilectus meus in the York MS
  • Robert White (1538 – 1574) Also spelt Whyte
  • William Byrd (1543 – 1623)
  • Richard Hunt (16th cent.) Has two works in the Peterhouse partbooks
  • Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder (1543 – 1588) Also spelt Alphonso, Farrabosco, Ferabosco, Forobosco. Also known as Master Alfonso and Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder
  • Anthony Holborne (c. 1545 – 1602) Also known as Olborner
  • John Johnson (c. 1545 – 1594)
  • Thomas Woodson (d. ? 1605) Forty Wayes of 2 pts. in one is found in a British Museum MS, canonic settings of Miserere
  • Thomas Warrock (fl. 1580 – 1590) Also spelt Warrocke, Warwick. Two pieces in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, Nos. 97-8
  • John Baldwin (before 1560 – 1615)
  • John Cosyn (d. 1609) Published Musicke of six, and five partes in 1585
  • Edward Martyn (16th cent.) Has a single work in the Peterhouse partbooks
  • John Northbrooke (16th cent.) Has a single work in the Peterhouse partbooks
  • Picforth (fl. c. 1580) An In nomine survives in MS, unusual in that each instrumental part consists of notes of only one time-value throughout, the values differing in each of the five parts
  • Poynt (fl. c. 1580) Works survive in manuscript
  • Thomas Oldfield (?) His Praeludium is No. 49 in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book
  • Jehan Oystermayre (?) Almost certainly German origin. Represented in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book


John Bull, 1562 – 1628


Image:Orlando Gibbons.jpg
Orlando Gibbons, 1583 – 1625


  • Robert Tailour (fl. 1615) Possibly Robert Taylor, also spelt Tailer, Taler, Taylour. Published Sacred Hymns, consisting of Fiftie select Psalms in 1615
  • Robert Johnson (c. 1582 – 1633)
  • Thomas Simpson (1582 – c. 1628) Also spelt Sympson. Active in Denmark
  • Orlando Gibbons (1583 – 1625)
  • Charles Coleman (d. 1646)
  • William Corkine (fl. 1610 – 1617)
  • George Mason (fl. 1611 to 1618) Published (with John Earsden) The Ayres That Were Sung And Played, at Brougham Castle in Westmerland, in the Kings Entertainment... 1618. This included some of the few masque songs that survive from the period immediately after 1613
  • Robert Ramsey (d. 1644) Composed mythological and biblical dialogues, such as Dives and Abraham, Saul and the Witch of Endor, and Orpheus and Pluto
  • John Adson (1587 – 1640)
  • John Lugg (? 1587 – 165?) Also spelt Lugge. There survive nine plainsong settings, one hexachord, and three voluntaries for double organ in a Christ Church autograph MS, among others
  • Nicholas Lanier (1588 – 1666) Also spelt Lanière
  • Walter Porter (c. 1588 – 1659) Madrigalist. Publications include instrumental toccatas, sinfonias and ritornellos as well as vocal pieces
  • John Tomkins (1589 – 1638) Half brother of Thomas Tomkins. John come kiss me now (variations) survives in a British Museum MS
  • Richard Mico (1590 – 1661) Two 18th century arrangements for viols of keyboard pavans in a MS in the British Museum survive
  • Thomas Ravenscroft (c. 1590 – c. 1633) Published a book of psalms amongst others
  • Leonard Woodson (d. 1641) His Mall Sims survives in a Berlin State Library MS
  • Robert Dowland (1591 – 1641) Son of John Dowland. Only three works are definitely ascribed to him: two lute pieces in the 'Varietie of Lute Lessons' and one in the 'Margaret Board Lutebook'.
  • John Jenkins (1592 – 1678)


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The Franco-Flemish School refers, somewhat imprecisely, to the style of polyphonic vocal music composition in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. See Renaissance music for a more detailed description of the style. The composers of this time and place, and the music they produced, are also known as the Dutch School. The word "Dutch" here refers to the historical Low Countries, roughly corresponding to modern Belgium, northern France and the Netherlands. Most artists were born in Hainaut, Flanders and Brabant.



Image:Orland di Lassus.jpg
Orlande de Lassus, c. 1531 – 1594
Image:Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck.png
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, 1562 – 1621




France here does not refer to the France of today, but a smaller region of French-speaking people separate from the area controlled by the Duchy of Burgundy. In medieval times, France was the centre of musical development with the Notre Dame school and Ars nova, this was later surpassed by the Burgundian School, but France remained a leading producer of choral music throughout the Renaissance.

Image:Jean maillard.jpg
Jean Maillard, c. 1510 – c. 1570


Claude Le Jeune, 1530 – 1600


Image:Guillaume costeley.jpg
Guillaume Costeley, 1530 – 1606




Image:Hans Leo Haßler.jpg
Hans Leo Hassler, 1564 – 1612


Michael Praetorius, c. 1571 – 1621



After the Burgundian School came to an end, Italy became a leading exponent of renaissance music and continued its innovation with the Venetian and (somewhat more conservative) Roman Schools of composition. In particular the Venetian School's polychoral compositions of the late 16th century were among the most famous musical events in Europe, and their influence on musical practice in other countries was enormous. The innovations introduced by the Venetian School, along with the contemporary development of monody and opera in Florence, together define the end of the musical Renaissance and the beginning of the musical Baroque.


Francesco Canova da Milano, 1497 – 1543


Image:Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.png
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, c. 1525 – 1594


Carlo Gesualdo, 1560 – 1613


Image:Jacopo Peri 1.jpg
Jacopo Peri, 1561 – 1633
Image:Claudio Monteverdi 1.jpg
Claudio Monteverdi, 1567 – 1643



During a period of favourable economic and political conditions at the beginning of the 16th century, Poland reached the height of its powers, when it was one of the richest and most powerful countries in Europe. It encompassed an area which included present day Lithuania and Latvia and portions of what is now Ukraine, Belarus, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Germany. As the middle class prospered, patronage for the arts in Poland increased, and also looked westward - particularly to Italy - for influences.




Diego Ortiz, c. 1510 – c. 1570


Image:Tomás Luis de Victoria.jpg
Tomás Luis de Victoria, 1548 – 1611


Image:Krystof Harant.jpg
Kryštof Harant z Polžic a Bezdružic, 1564 – 1621


Unknown nationality

  • Lupus (c. 1495 – after 1530) Possibly a Franco-Flemish composer, whose music has survived in the Medici Codex: stylistically distinct from Lupus Hellinck who otherwise would be identified as this composer
  • Teodora Ginés (c. 1530 – after 1598) Not to be confused with the later Cuban singer and former slave of the same name
  • Jean Courtois (fl. 1530 – 1545) Flemish or French, active at Cambrai

See also

There is considerable overlap near the beginning and end of this era. See lists of composers for the previous and following eras.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "List of Renaissance composers" 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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