Autumn of the Middle Ages: A six-part history in words and music from the Low Countries, Part 6

This programme is part of the series Autumn of the Middle Ages
An illustration from the southern Netherlands showing musicians in the Garden of Pleasure, c. 1500 (© British Library)

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.

The music in this final programme of the series was created in a new world, dominated by radical new ideas that spread through printing and led to major upheaval in the 16th century: the Reformation and the rediscovery of Antiquity. The waning years of the Middle Ages saw a major political rearrangement of the European continent, and composers worked increasingly abroad, with the Low Countries now under the control of the Habsburgs. Yet the musical themes continued to celebrate the eternal motifs of love and merriment.

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.

  • 01:53 Zwischen Berg und tiefen Tal – (Hendrik Isaac) – Studio Laren
  • 03:11 E qui la dira – (Hendrik Isaac) – Studio Laren
  • 06:10 Ick segh adieu – (Jacob Clemens) – Studio Laren
  • 08:52 Ghy sotten en sottinnekens – (Antwerps Liedboek, Anonymus) – Studio Laren
  • 11:48 ‘t Sou een meisken gaan om wijn – (Antwerps Liedboek, Anonymus) – Studio Laren
  • 12:53 Gevaere – (Antwerps Liedboek, Anonymus) – Studio Laren
  • 14:23 Branle Poitou – (Anonymus) – Studio Laren
  • 16:11 Ricercare – (Adriaan Willaert) – Studio Laren
  • 20:14 Three dances: Pavane, Moorish dance and Fool’s dance – (Tielman Susato) – Studio Laren
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