Famous 16th Century Composers

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Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Composers, including Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Orlande de Lassus, Jean de Brébeuf and Michael Praetorius.
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 1 
Claudio Monteverdi
(Composer, String player and Choirmaster Who Was a Pioneer in the Development of Opera)
Claudio Monteverdi
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Birthdate: May 9, 1567
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cremona, Italy
Died: November 29, 1643

Claudio Monteverdi was an Italian string player, composer, choirmaster, and priest. His pioneering work in the development of opera and his letters, which gives an insight into the life of Italian musicians from the era, makes him a significant historical figure. He is also considered an important transitional figure between the two important periods of music history, Renaissance and Baroque. 

 2 
Thomas Tallis
(Composer, Organist)
Thomas Tallis
3
Birthdate: January 30, 1505
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kent, England
Died: November 23, 1585
 3 
Carlo Gesualdo
(Composer)
Carlo Gesualdo
3
Birthdate: March 8, 1566
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Venosa, Italy
Died: September 8, 1613
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 4 
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
(Italian Composer Best-Known as the16th-Century Representative of the 'Roman School of Musical Composition')
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
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Birthdate: 1525 AD
Birthplace: Palestrina, Italy
Died: February 2, 1594

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian composer who had a long-lasting influence on the evolution of secular music in Europe. He is also credited with the development of counterpoint. His life and career inspired a 2009 Italian/German music film titled Palestrina - Prince of Music.

 5 
Josquin des Prez
(One of the Greatest Composers of European High Renaissance )
Josquin des Prez
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Birthdate: 1450 AD
Birthplace: Condé-sur-l'Escaut, France
Died: August 27, 1521

Josquin des Prez was one of the most influential Renaissance composers. Known for his motets, masses, and chansons, he is revered as the main figure of the Franco-Flemish School. Details of his early days are vague, and he was, for a long time, mistaken as another singer, Josquin de Kessalia.

 6 
Giovanni Gabrieli
(Italian Composer, Organist and One of the Most Influential Musicians of His Time)
Giovanni Gabrieli
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Birthdate: 1557 AD
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: 1612 AD

Giovanni Gabrieli was an Italian organist and composer. One of the most popular musicians of his generation, Gabrieli's works were popularized throughout Europe by his association with the prestigious Scuola Grande di San Rocco, where he was appointed as an organist.

 7 
Thomas Morley
(Composer, Musician)
Thomas Morley
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Birthdate: 1557 AD
Birthplace: Norwich, England
Died: September 30, 1602
 8 
Purandara Dasa
3
Birthdate: 1484 AD
Birthplace: Shimoga, Karnataka, India
Died: January 2, 1564
 9 
Orlando Gibbons
(composer, organist)
Orlando Gibbons
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Birthdate: December 25, 1583
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oxford
Died: June 5, 1625
 10 
Michael Praetorius
2
Birthdate: February 15, 1571
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Creuzburg, Germany
Died: February 15, 1621
 11 
Tomás Luis de Victoria
(One of the Most Famous Spanish Composers of the 16th-Century)
Tomás Luis de Victoria
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Birthdate: 1548 AD
Birthplace: Sanchidrián, Spain
Died: August 20, 1611

One of the most influential 16th-century composers, Tomas Luis De Victoria had begun as a choirboy. He went to Rome on a grant from Spain’s King Philip II and later became a Catholic priest. A skilled singer and organist, too, he developed the concertato style of the Franco-Netherlandish school.

 12 
Girolamo Frescobaldi
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Birthdate: September 13, 1583
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ferrara, Italy
Died: March 1, 1643
 13 
Giulio Caccini
(Composer)
Giulio Caccini
2
Birthdate: October 8, 1551
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lazio, Italy
Died: December 10, 1618
 14 
Vincenzo Galilei
2
Birthdate: April 3, 1520
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Santa Maria a Monte, Italy
Died: July 2, 1591
 15 
Jacopo Peri
(Composer)
Jacopo Peri
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Birthdate: August 20, 1561
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: August 12, 1633
 16 
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
(Dutch Composer and Pedagogue Famous for His Brilliant Improvisations at the Organ and Harpsichord)
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
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Birthdate: 1562
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Deventer, Netherlands
Died: October 16, 1621

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck was a Dutch composer, music educator, music organizer, harpsichordist, organist, and ensemble leader. He played a major role during the transition to Baroque music from Renaissance and is often regarded as the most prominent Dutch composer of the Early Modern Period. His music was not only popular in the Netherlands but also spread across Europe.

 17 
Thomas Campion
(Famous for Writing Over a Hundred Lute Songs, Masques for Dancing)
Thomas Campion
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Birthdate: February 12, 1567
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 1, 1620
 18 
Michelagnolo Galilei
1
Birthdate: December 18, 1575
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: January 3, 1631
 19 
Thomas Weelkes
(Organist, Composer)
Thomas Weelkes
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Birthdate: October 25, 1576
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sussex, England
Died: November 30, 1623
 20 
Jacques Arcadelt
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Birthdate: 1507 AD
Birthplace: Belgium
Died: October 14, 1568

Renaissance composer Jacques Arcadelt, one of the most significant figures of the Franco-Netherlandish school, is best remembered for his madrigals and his secular compositions. He was influenced by a variety of music, such as frottola and the music he heard as a choir member of the Sistine Chapel.

 21 
Adrian Willaert
(Composer)
Adrian Willaert
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Birthdate: 1490 AD
Birthplace: Rumbeke, Roeselare, Belgium
Died: December 7, 1562

Adrian Willaert was a Netherlandish composer who is credited with founding the Venetian School. Apart from being remembered as a versatile composer, Willaert was also the most influential musician in Europe during his time. Also renowned for his teaching skills, Adrian Willaert taught students like Cipriano de Rore, who went on to become respected composers in their own right.

Maurice, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel
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Birthdate: May 25, 1572
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kassel, Germany
Died: March 15, 1632
 23 
Cristóbal de Morales
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Birthdate: 1500 AD
Birthplace: Sevilla, Spain
Died: October 7, 1553
 24 
Heinrich Isaac
(Composer)
Heinrich Isaac
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Birthdate: 1450 AD
Birthplace: Flanders, Belgium
Died: March 26, 1517

Remembered especially for his contribution towards the development of German music, Heinrich Isaac was a leading fifteenth-century composer, belonging to the Franco-Flemish school. A prolific composer, he wrote numerous masses, motets and songs in French, German and Italian, all the while maintaining a close tie with the Habsburg Court, which helped to popularize polyphonic style of the Netherlands in Germany.

 25 
Jacobus Gallus
(Composer)
Jacobus Gallus
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Birthdate: July 3, 1550
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ribnica, Slovenia
Died: July 18, 1591
 26 
Luca Marenzio
(Composer & Singer)
Luca Marenzio
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Birthdate: October 18, 1553
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Coccaglio, Italy
Died: August 22, 1599

Luca Marenzio was a 16th-century Italian composer and singer active during the late Renaissance. Counted among the most renowned composers of madrigals, he composed some of the most famous examples of the form in his era. Around 500 madrigals are attributed to him. He spent most of his career in Rome and was employed by several aristocratic Italian families. 

 27 
Hans Leo Hassler
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Birthdate: October 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nürnberg, Germany
Died: June 8, 1612
 28 
Gioseffo Zarlino
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Birthdate: January 31, 1517
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chioggia, Italy
Died: February 4, 1590
 29 
Samuel Scheidt
(Composer)
Samuel Scheidt
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Birthdate: November 3, 1587
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Halle, Germany
Died: March 24, 1654
 30 
Pietro della Valle
(Italian Composer and Musicologist of the Renaissance Period)
Pietro della Valle
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Birthdate: April 2, 1586
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: April 21, 1652

Italian traveler Pietro della Valle, known for his voyages to India and Persia, was also a talented musicologist and composer. In Baghdad, he married a Syrian Christian woman, who died in Persia. He later also touched Surat and Calicut in India. His three-volume treatise on his travels focuses on Turkey, Persia, and India.

 31 
Juan del Encina
(Spanish Composer, Poet, and Playwright)
Juan del Encina
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Birthdate: July 12, 1468
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Fermoselle, Spain
Died: 1529 AD

Juan del Encina is largely regarded as one of the pioneers of Spanish drama. He had been the court poet/dramatist for the Duke of Alba. Some of his best-known works were compiled in Cancionero. His églogas often dealt with mythological themes that were previously found in the Italian works.

 32 
Clément Janequin
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Birthdate: 1485 AD
Birthplace: Châtellerault, France
Died: 1558 AD
 33 
Pierre de La Rue
(Flemish Composer)
Pierre de La Rue
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Birthdate: 1452 AD
Birthplace: Tournai, Belgium
Died: November 20, 1518

Pierre de La Rue was a Franco-Flemish singer and composer of the Renaissance. He is often compared with other great composers like Alexander Agricola, Antoine Brumel, and Jacob Obrecht and is counted among the most influential and famous composers in the Netherlands polyphonic style during the early 1500s.

 34 
Francisco Guerrero
1
Birthdate: October 4, 1528
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Seville, Spain
Died: November 8, 1599
 35 
Nicolas Gombert
(Flemish composer)
Nicolas Gombert
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Birthdate: 1495 AD
Birthplace: Flanders, Belgium
Died: 1560 AD

Nicolas Gombert was a Franco-Flemish composer best remembered for championing a complex polyphonic style of music of the Renaissance. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and popular composers of his generation, Nicolas Gombert was highly admired by his contemporaries as well as musicians from future generations.

 36 
Nicholas Lanier
(Composer)
Nicholas Lanier
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Birthdate: September 10, 1588
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 24, 1666
 37 
Jean Mouton
(Composer)
Jean Mouton
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Birthdate: 1459 AD
Birthplace: France
Died: October 30, 1522
 38 
Emilio de' Cavalieri
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Birthdate: 1550 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: March 11, 1602
 39 
Philippe de Monte
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Birthdate: 1521 AD
Birthplace: Mechelen, Belgium
Died: July 4, 1603

Philippe de Monte was a Flemish composer who was active all over Europe during the late Renaissance. Born into a family of madrigalists, Monte wrote more madrigals than anyone else from his time. During his lifetime, Philippe de Monte was also considered the best composer in the whole of Flanders.

 40 
Alexander Agricola
1
Birthdate: November 30, 1445
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Flanders
Died: August 15, 1506

Alexander Agricola was a Netherlandish composer who lived during the Renaissance. A renowned composer during the early 1500s, Agricola is remembered for his versatility as he could write different forms of music like motets, masses, and motet-chansons. Alexander Agricola is also remembered for creating music in a highly distinctive style.

 41 
Thomas Ravenscroft
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Birthdate: 1588 AD
Birthplace: Sussex, England
Died: 1635 AD
 42 
Luis de Milán
(Composer)
Luis de Milán
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Birthdate: 1500 AD
Birthplace: Spain
Died: 1561 AD

Luis de Milán was the first to publish music on the vihuela, which is a Spanish version of the lute. His best-known work remains El Maestro, which was the first in a series of books on the vihuela. Some of his works were also dedicated to King John III of Portugal.

 43 
Christopher Tye
(Composer)
Christopher Tye
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Birthdate: 1505 AD
Birthplace: Cambridgeshire, England
Died: 1573 AD
 44 
Claudin De Sermisy
(Former composer of the Renaissance)
Claudin De Sermisy
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Birthdate: 1490 AD
Birthplace: France
Died: October 13, 1562
 45 
Antonio de Cabezón
1
Birthdate: March 30, 1510
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Castrillo Mota de Judíos, Spain
Died: March 26, 1566
 46 
Claude Le Jeune
(Composer)
Claude Le Jeune
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Birthdate: 1528 AD
Birthplace: Valenciennes, France
Died: September 26, 1600
 47 
Johannes Tinctoris
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Birthdate: 1435 AD
Birthplace: Braine-l'Alleud, Belgium
Died: 1511 AD

Johannes Tinctoris was a Renaissance composer and music theorist from the Low Countries. During his lifetime, Tinctoris went on to become the most important European writer on music since the advent of Guido of Arezzo. A multi-talented personality, Johannes Tinctoris was also known as a poet, cleric, lawyer, and mathematician.

 48 
Martin Rinkart
(Musical Artist)
Martin Rinkart
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Birthdate: April 23, 1586
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Eilenburg, Germany
Died: December 8, 1649
 49 
Jacobus Clemens
(Composer)
Jacobus Clemens
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Birthdate: 1510 AD
Birthplace: Middelburg, Netherlands
Died: 1555 AD
 50 
Thomas Tomkins
(Composer)
Thomas Tomkins
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Birthdate: 1572 AD
Birthplace: Saint David’s, England
Died: June 9, 1656

Welsh-born Renaissance composer Thomas Tomkins was known for his sacred and conservative compositions. Born into a musical family of choral singers, organists, and composers, he was later named an organist to the Chapel Royal. He was the last of the musicians to mould their music according to the tradition of William Byrd.