Eric Alan Heil | 16th Century Court Music

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16th Century Court Music

by Eric Alan Heil

16th Century Court music from 1508 to 1600 pop charts from the Renaissance period of European's most distinguished court music. These arrangements are rare and most have never been performed on the classical guitar or lute.
Genre: Classical: Renaissance
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Passemeze from Fantasies Et D Instruction 1568
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2:33 album only
2. Canson Englesa Allemande De Court
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1:17 album only
3. Das Erst Priamell
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5:05 album only
4. Pavana Alla Veneciana
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1:47 album only
5. Rossina Ain Welscher Dantz, Rossina, Ain Niderlendisch Ruden Dantz Saphica
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9:27 album only
6. Erwelt Hab Ich Mir
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1:33 album only
7. Freuntlicher Grueb
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5:26 album only
8. Tota Pulchra
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5:02 album only
9. Nerrith Don Ist Mein Munier
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4:18 album only
10. Tota Pulchra No. 2
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3:59 album only
11. Weytlich Art
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3:43 album only
12. Ain Spaniyelischer Hoff Dantz, Nachtanz
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1:40 album only
13. Fantasia No. 70 from El Divino
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4:47 album only
Available as MP3, MP3 320, and FLAC files.


Album Notes
This album consists of the pop charts from the Renaissance era showcasing instrumental lute music that starts from 1508 to 1600. These compositions are written in tabulatur for that time period very different than modern day music notation. To the human eye, tabulatur looks like hieroglyphs who are not custom to early medieval, Renaissance, Baroque instrumental lute music and early guitar music. You'll find this type of musical notation is completely different and extremely difficult where most people wouldn't understand where the notes and measures are placed.

Eric Alan Heil has devoted many years of researching at universities and libraries all over the world communicating with great scholars about these important subject matters of European history. This collection offers compositions that have never been performed to its true entirety for the classical guitar.

In this CD, Adrian Le Roy, was a French guitarist, lutenist, composer and music publisher of the 16th century. His birthdate and date of death is unknown, and we do know that in 1551 he became brother-in-law to a certain Robert Ballard who had been printing music independently. The new firm of Le Roy and Ballard published a lot of music, but their greatest interests lies in series of five books of guitar that they published in Paris from 1551 to 1555. The guitar most used in France, at this time, was the four course type for which these compositions were written. However, the five course guitar was already in existence. He wrote the famous "Passemeze" from the third movement of Fantaisies ET D I 1568.

The music of Adrian Le Roy's Fantasies ET Dances Instruction 1568 for lute music was published in 1568 when scholars had already stated that he had died in 1589.

Emmeannuel Adriaenssen born 1554, Antwerp, Belgium buried February 27, 1604, Antwerp (was a Flemish lutenist) and influential author of Pratum Musicum Antwerp, 1584 (reprinted with alterations several times until 1600). This contains lute solos, and more importantly, settings of marginals for multiple lutes and different ensembles involving lutes and voices giving much study materials for the researcher into Renaissance performance practice. The ensemble pieces have been recorded by the Dowland Concert of Lutes, who was the most important lute composer of England in the Renaissance, for the lute and dances, but especially songs.

Hans Judenkönig was a German lutenist, composer and probably lute maker. His family came from Württemberg; his father may have been one Hartmann Judenkönig. He is first recorded in 1518 as a lutenist in the Corpus Christi confraternity at the Stephansdom in Vienna; he had probably already been working as a musician there for some time, and he lived in the oldest quarter of Vienna in a house called the ‘Gundlachhaus’, later celebrated under the name of ‘Küllnerhof’ as a centre for musicians and merchants. Although he was not a member of the nobility, his prominent position as a citizen is indicated by a coat of arms depicting a string player, which appeared in both his books; both books also include a full-page woodcut showing a bearded lutenist (probably Judenkönig himself), together with a pupil playing a large viol. Judenkönig was in contact with the learned humanistic community of Vienna: he arranged some of the odes of Petrus Tritonius, and he seems also to have been familiar with the ideals of the poetic-mathematical circle around Conrad Celtis. His date of death at an advanced age was recorded in the margin of one copy of his Underweisung.

Along with Sebastian Virdung (Musica getutscht, 1511), Judenkönig was one of the first in the German-speaking region to publish a self-instruction manual for the lute. His Utilis et compendiaria introductio, qua ut fundamento lacto quam facillime musicum exercitium, instrumentorum et lutine, et quod vulgo Geygen nominant, addiscitur was printed in Vienna at his own expense, probably between 1515 and 1519 (for editions see BrownI ). It opens with a concise set of instructions for playing the lute, followed by intabulations of 19 settings by Tritonius of the odes of Horace and a setting of Catullus’ ‘Vivamus, mea Lesbia’. Rules for tuning the lute are then followed by a group of intabulations including ten of lieder, the hymn ‘Christ ist erstanden’ and ‘Der hoff dantz’. Ain schone kunstliche Underweisung in disem Bechlein, leychtlich zu begreyffen den rechten Grund zu lernen auff der Lautten und Geygen (Vienna, 1523; ed. in Die Tabulatur, x, 1969) consists of two parts. In the first, instructions for left-hand fingering on the lute alternate with practical exercises in a progressive series: there is an introductory group of two-voice intabulations based on the tenor and bassus parts of four lieder, followed by a Pavana alla veneziana taken from Dalza’s Intabolatura de lauto (1508) and ‘Ain hoff dantz mit zway stimen’ ; the first five left-hand positions are illustrated by three-voice intabulations of 11 lieder, an ode by Tritonius, a motet and a chanson, six dances (including another taken from Dalza), and five fantasias called ‘Priamel’. Judenkönig also included instructions on right-hand fingering. The second part of the Underweisung has its own title page; it is a manual of mensural notation and intabulations technique. Although viols are mentioned in the titles of both books, they are virtually ignored in the texts.

Francesco Canova de Milano (1497 - 1593)
The most admired lutenist - composer of the early cinquecento. The first native born Italian composer to receive international renowned Renaissance. His works for lute survive in quantity greater than that of any other lutenist of the time. There are contained in over forty extant tablatures printed in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the Lowlands between 1536 and 1603, twenty-five manuscripts of equally diversified provenance.

Through the centuries there have been many accounts on record of his (sublime) skills in playing the lute. In the writings, his contemporaries call him "EL Divino," and Epithet, which he shared with no less a Renaissance figure than Michelangelo Buonarotti. Pope Paul 3rd considered him, "The most eminent musician of all superior to Orpheus and to Apollo in playing the Lyre and any other instrument whatever."

Francesco Canova de Milano, son of the musician Benedetto Canova, born in the Milanese suburb of Monza August 18, 1497. Beatrice and Isabelle d Este's favorite lutenist at Mantua, guided Francesco's early musical training. In 1519 he entered the service of Pope Leox and remained in Rome as musician to Adrian 6th and Clement 7th. Around 1530, he was organist in Piacenza at Duomo of Milan. Before 1535, serving as lutenist and violist to cardinal Ippolito de 'Medici, and teacher of Paul 3rd's grandson Ottovio Farnese in Rome.

The ricercar fantasia is evident in Francesco's de Milano's works which you would encounter in the early 16th century lute music. Judging from his renown as a lutenist, the widespread praise of his music, and from looking at many sources, one could conclude that he had a profound influence on Renaissance lute composition, and set the trends of the stylistic dichotomy of the early 16th century fantasia and ricercar of lute composition. Some scholars state "works no. 4, 40, 85, and 92 and closely allied the almost improvisatory style of short, thin textured ricercars of Francesco Spinacino, JOan Ambrosio Dalza, and Fransiscas Bossinensis. And works no. 6, 20, 64 employ imitation technique are closre to mid-century ricercar fantasia of Miguel de Fuenllana and Valentin Bakfark. The bulk of Francesco's work falls between these two extremes, the idpmatic lute writing with some of the compositional procedures of motet composers of the Josquin generation.

Scholars have also asserted ambiguity is a stylistic trait in his music. And one often senses order, and when seeks reason for this order, will usually then be foiled. The best example is when Otto Gombosi, in a brilliant analysis of ricercar no. 3 saw to (not three) major divisions, each 60 measures in length, the change from 3/4 to 4/4 meter in his c and c- segments playing an important role in his scheme.

Lute scholars argue that it's not possible to make a clear distinction between the terms ricercar and fantasia. "Ricercar" may often appear in a latter print with the title "fantasia, and vice versa; a title page may indicate that a print contains ricercars, but the individual pieces may carry the designation "fantasia." The best example the "cavalcanti lute book Brus gives the title "ricercha fantasia." Ricercar means short pieces consisting of chords and scale passages. Italian term-ricerca means "research" hence study in the case of a technical nature.

Within the works of Francesco Canova de Milano, it was found for the first time that the instrumental counterpart of the motet is basically a succession of points of themes, each of which is treated imitatively. In other words, each is a polyphonic "study." So far as the lute is concerned, Francesco's ricercari are the finest ever written and exerted a considerable influence on other lute composers, both foreign and native, the former usually employing the term "fantasia" as indeed did many Italians during the latter part of the century. Apart from the ricercari and dance movements, Francesco also wrote pieces which are much freer in design, alternating between imitative, chordal, and florid passages, and in some respects anticipating the latter toccata.

The following account will best describe the effect his music could have had on his contemporaries. "...Among other rare rate pleasures assembled for the delight of the chosen company, was Francesco de Milano, a man who is considered to have attained the end if such is possible of perfection in playing the lute well. The tables being cleared, he chose one, and as if tuning his strings, sat on the end of a table seeking out a fantasia. He barely disturbed the air with three strummed chords when he interrupted conversation, which had started among the guests. Having constrained them to face him, he continued with such a ravishing skill that little by little; making the strings languish under his fingers in his sublime way. He transported all those who were listening into a pleasurable melancholy. One, leaning on his hand supported by his elbow, and another sprawling with his limbs in careless deportment, with gaping mouth, and more than half, closed eyes glued, would judge those strings of the instrument. And his chin fallen on his breast, concealing his countenance with the saddest taciturnity ever seen, they remained deprived of all the senses had retired to the ears in order to enjoy the more at its ease so ravishing a harmony; and I believe (said Mide Ventemille) that we would be there still, had he not himself. I know not how changing his style of playing with a gentle force, returned the spirit and the senses to the place from which had had stolen them, not without leaving as much astonishment in each of us as if we had been elevated by an ecstatic transport of some divine frenzy.

This CD was recorded at St. Petersburg Cathedral in Russia.


Eric Alan Heil


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