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Hildegard von Bingen

January 1, 1098 - September 17, 1179

Born in Germany
Hildegard von Bingen (Hildegard of Bingen) was a German nun who established her own
convent, and was famous for her prophecies and miracles. In addition to writing poetry, she
wrote books about religion and medicine and she composed music. Only 77 songs of hers
remain after all these years.

Heinrich von Veldeke

Heinrich von Veldeke (aka: He(y)nric van Veldeke(n), Dutch Hendrik van Veldeke, born before
or around 1150 died after 1184) is the first writer in the Low Countries that we know by name
who wrote in a European language other than Latin. He was born in Veldeke, a hamlet on the
territory of Spalbeek, which has been a community of Hasselt, Limburg, Belgium, since 1977.
The Vel(de)kermolen, a water mill on the Demer river, is the only remainder of this hamlet. In
Limburg he is celebrated as a writer of the Old Limburgish.
Veldekes years of birth and death are uncertain. He must have been born before or around
1150, as he was writing in the early 1170s. There is no evidence that Veldeke was born in 1128,
as is often suggested. He certainly died after 1184, because he mentions in his Eneas that he
was present at the court day that emperor Frederik Barbarossa organised in Mainz at Pentecost
of that year. He must have died before Wolfram von Eschenbach wrote his Parzival, which was
completed between 1205 and 1210. Wolfram mentions in that work that Veldeke died
prematurely. Veldeke probably was a member of a ministerial class (unfree nobles) family. The
existence of such a family is mentioned in deeds from the thirteenth century. It may be
concluded that he received a thorough education, as he used Latin sources in his works.

William Byrd

One remarkable instrumental composer was William Byrd (c.1540-1623). Byrd was somewhat
of an anomaly for his time. Like the rest of the continent, England was having its own internal
religious wars, and though the Protestants won with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I, Byrd
remained staunchly Catholic.
Strangely, in a time of such religious persecution, Byrd was hired to serve Queen Elizabeth as a
court composer and organist. He was really just that good. Part of what made him special was
his versatility. He wrote many motets, dance pieces and consorts, which were instrumental
pieces for a small group of musicians. He also wrote sacred Latin masses, which were probably
only performed at secret Catholic prayer services.
Along with these, Byrd is recognized for composing and printing some of the first significant
keyboard music. Keyboard instruments were just starting to become available, such as the
organ and the virginal. Also, Byrd was savvy enough to get a printing license, and he printed
many of his keyboard pieces. The virginal was played by amateurs, so Byrd's keyboard music
was highly utilized by the public.


Giovanni Gabrieli was a renowned Italian organist and composer, also a proponent of
the Venetian school of music. His musical works mirror the transition from late
Renaissance to the early Baroque. Gabrieli was well-known because of a characteristic
sound in his music, which was associated with St. Marks Cathedral, Venice, where he
made noteworthy contributions in vocal and instrumental music. With this, he was able
to influence music and its further development of seventeenth century. Gabrielis
numerous innovations helped him establish as a prominent musician of his time. He
brought forward a new musical era carried ahead by the Roman masters belonging to
the 17th century. Gabrieli took up prestigious posts and during this time, he composed
grand ceremonial music which cannot be missed out by any chance, while referring to
his life and career. His talents in motets and madrigals made him one of the first
composers capable of stipulating instrumentation and volume markings in music. Read
on to know more about his life and career.

Claudio Monteverdi

Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi was an awe-inspiring Italian composer, singer and
gambist. He was a revolutionary composer who pioneered the transition from Renaissance
mode of music to Baroque era. He invented two distinct styles of composition the heritage of
Renaissance polyphony and the new basso continuo technique of the Baroque. Monteverdi
initiated writing one of the earliest operas, L'Orfeo, an imaginative work that is performed
frequently even today. He became extremely popular as an ingenious composer and enjoyed
considerable fame during his lifetime. He was an Italian priest as well as a musician and was
engaged as a violist to the Duke of Mantua at an early age and also studied composition under
Ingegneri, the duke's maestro di capella. He experimented with new techniques and created
some incredible, breakthrough musical works in the midst of prevailing music of Renaissance
period. He was the earliest composers to intentionally apply unprepared dissonances or
fundamental discords. His harmonic innovations replaced the school of Palestrina and created
new pathways for modern music.

Arcangelo Corelli

Born in Italy
Corelli was born in Italy a month after his fathers death. Since his family was prosperous, he
and his brothers and sisters were well educated. Arcangelo first took music lessons from a local
priest. When he decided to become a professional violinist, he went to Bologna. Later, he
worked in Rome, where he had several patrons, including a famous Roman, Cardinal Pietro
Ottoboni. Ottoboni held regular Monday evening concerts at his palace, to which visiting
dignitaries and famous musicians were invited. Corelli was conductor at these events, and as
such met all sorts of celebrities.
First and foremost, Arcangelo Corelli was a violinist. He introduced a new style of playing called
cantabile, meaning singing or songlike, and taught a whole generation of violinist-composers,
including George Frederick Handel and Antonio Vivaldi. His own solo performances were
legendary and he toured throughout Europe, amazing his audiences with his beautiful tone.
As a composer, Corelli is known as the first composer to do away entirely with the old church
modes and write only major-minor tonalities. He wrote music almost exclusively for string
instruments, including trio sonatas and violin sonatas. He is also known for his collection of
concerti grossi, a form that he developed and popularized. Because of these works, the
concertos of Vivaldi, Handel and Bach were made possible.
Corelli was famous, respected and admired during his lifetime and died a wealthy man in 1713.

Franz Joseph Haydn

Haydn was a remarkable composer, epitomizing the meaning of classical period composition,
and though he wasn't as flashy as the younger Mozart, his music always stayed true to form.
Haydn, unlike most composers, had a "reliable and steady" job composing, directing, teaching,
performing, and managing musicians from the royal Esterhazy family. During this time, Haydn
composed many pieces of music for the courtly orchestra to perform. With a staggering body of
work, including over 100 symphonies and 60 string quartets, he is often referred to as the
"Father of the Symphony" or "Father of the String Quartet."

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already
competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before
European royalty. At 17, he was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court, but grew restless
and travelled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed
from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little
financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known
symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished
at the time of his death. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized.
He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.
He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante,
chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical
composers, and his influence on subsequent Western art music is profound; Ludwig van
Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote
that "posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years

Gustav Holst

Born in Great Britain

Known primarily for The Planets, Gustav Holst also composed other music, played the
trombone and taught at a girls school in London. His father taught him piano at an early age,
but a nerve disease cut his career as a pianist short. He went on to attend the Royal College of
Music where he studied composition and met fellow student Ralph Vaughn Williams, who
became a lifelong friend.
Holst was very interested in Hindu literature and philosophy and even learned Sanskrit so that
he could translate passages written in this language himself. This religion influences many of his
Because of his jobs as a trombonist and a teacher, Holst did most of his composing in his spare
time. The success of The Planets thrust him suddenly into the spotlight, where he was not very
comfortable. However, it also insured his financial well-being. Because of illness, Holst gave up
teaching in 1925 and was able to spend the next several years writing music. His works include
operas, choral music, orchestral pieces and songs.

John Adams

February 15, 1947 Born in America

John Adams was born on Feb 15, 1947 in Massachusetts. He was heavily influenced as a child
by the New English music scene and grew up playing the clarinet. He earned two music
degrees from Harvard during the 1970s. After reading the book Silence by John Cage he began
dabbling in electronic music composition. Today his style is often electronic and considered
"minimalist" or "post-minimalist" by many, with sparse instrumentation and a lot of repetition.
Two of his most famous works are Short Ride in a Fast Machine (1986) and On the
Transmigration of Souls (2002), composed for those lost on 9/11.