Autumn of the Middle Ages: A six-part history in words and music from the Low Countries, Part 1

This programme is part of the series Autumn of the Middle Ages
Ghent Altarpiece: Five panels from the 24-panel masterpiece of Netherlandisch painting by Jan van Eyck (notice the musician angels) (© Wikimedia)

In the Middle Ages, the Netherlands played a very prominent role in European musical life. By “Netherlands”, we mean the so-called Low Countries, the region along the North Sea which includes the present-day Netherlands as well as Belgium. Both countries formed one whole which, in turn, was part of the Burgundian realm. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Dutch composers from the southern Netherlands occupied positions of importance in the music ensembles of monarchs and princes and also as leading figures in the choirs of many European cathedrals. The music they produced is known as the Dutch School, and the composers gained fame as creators of impressive contrapuntal choral works on religious texts. But in this series, we present them also as composers of secular music, including songs and dances.

In this first part of the series we hear some of the earliest known music from the Netherlands, for example folk music by composers like Jacobus de Holandia and Hendrikus de Zelandia, the earliest days of the new polyphony, and the perennial pains and joys of love lost and gained. This music has been passed down to us in manuscripts dating as far back as the 12th century.

Presenter: Robert Haslach

Producers: Dr. Jos Wouters (script and project coordination) and Willem G. Van Maanen

Recorded by Radio Nederland and released this recording as a set of six LPs for broadcast by our partner stations on January 27, 1976. Many of the pieces were performed by the internationally renowned early Dutch early music ensemble Syntagma Musicum.

  • 02:51 Het dunct mi wesen verre – (Anonymus) – Syntagma Musicum
  • 04:47 Mijn hertze en can verblijden niet – Jan Moritoen, tenor
  • 07:15 Die molen van Parijs – (Anonymus) – Syntagma Musicum
  • 08:45 Et gaudebit – (Anonymus) – Syntagma Musicum
  • 10:36 Kere dame – (Anonymus) – Syntagma Musicum
  • 12:59 Or sus vous dormez trop – (Anonymus) – Syntagma Musicum
  • 16:02 Fumeux fume – (Solage) – Syntagma Musicum
  • 22:14 Bassa danza (Maistre Gulielmus) – Syntagma Musicum
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