Famous 16th Century Musicians

Find out more about the greatest 16th Century Musicians, including Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Thomas Tallis, Tansen and John Dowland.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Claudio Monteverdi

Claudio Monteverdi
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Famous As: Composer, String player & choirmaster
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

Thomas Tallis
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Famous As: Composer, Organist
Birthdate: January 30, 1505
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kent, England
Died: November 23, 1585

 3 Carlo Gesualdo

Carlo Gesualdo
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: March 8, 1566
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Venosa, Italy
Died: September 8, 1613
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 4 Tansen

Tansen
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Famous As: composer
Birthdate: 1500 AD
Birthplace: Gwalior
Died: 1589 AD

Gwalior-born composer Tansen, also known as Ramtanu Pandey, was an iconic figure of Hindustani classical music. Best known for his dhrupad and raga compositions, he was one of the navratnas, or nine gems, of Mughal emperor Akbar’s court. He also invented a stringed instrument named the rabab.

 5 Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
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Famous As: Renaissance composer of sacred music
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.

 6 Josquin des Prez

Josquin des Prez
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 24, 1450
Sun Sign: Pisces
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.

 7 John Dowland

John Dowland
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Famous As: Singer, Lutenist and Composer
Birthdate: 1563 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 20, 1626
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 8 Purandara Dasa

Purandara Dasa
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1484 AD
Birthplace: Shimoga, Karnataka, India
Died: January 2, 1564

 9 Giovanni Gabrieli

Giovanni Gabrieli
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Famous As: Composer, Organist
Birthdate: 1557 AD
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: August 12, 1612

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.

 10 Thomas Morley

Thomas Morley
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Famous As: composer, organist, musicologist, music theorist
Birthdate: 1557 AD
Birthplace: Norwich
Died: September 30, 1602

 11 Tomas Luis De Victoria

Tomas Luis De Victoria
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Famous As: Composer
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 Michael Praetorius

Michael Praetorius
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Famous As: composer, musicologist, music theorist
Birthdate: February 15, 1571
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Creuzburg
Died: February 15, 1621

 13 Orlando Gibbons

Orlando Gibbons
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Famous As: composer, organist
Birthdate: December 25, 1583
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oxford
Died: June 5, 1625

 14 Giulio Caccini

Giulio Caccini
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: October 8, 1551
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lazio, Italy
Died: December 10, 1618

 15 Girolamo Frescobaldi

Girolamo Frescobaldi
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: September 13, 1583
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ferrara, Italy
Died: March 1, 1643

 16 Vincenzo Galilei

Vincenzo Galilei
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Famous As: Lutenist
Birthdate: April 3, 1520
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Santa Maria a Monte, Italy
Died: July 2, 1591

 17 John Blanke

John Blanke
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Famous As: Trumpeter
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Africa

 18 Jacopo Peri

Jacopo Peri
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: August 20, 1561
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: August 12, 1633

 19 Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: April 30, 1562
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Deventer, Netherlands
Died: October 16, 1621

 20 Thomas Campion

Thomas Campion
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Famous As: poet, composer, music theorist, musicologist
Birthdate: February 22, 1567
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London
Died: March 1, 1620

 21 Michelagnolo Galilei

Michelagnolo Galilei
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: December 18, 1575
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: January 3, 1631

 22 Maurice, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel

Maurice, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel
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Famous As: Noblemen
Birthdate: May 25, 1572
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kassel, Germany
Died: March 15, 1632

 23 Jacques Arcadelt

Jacques Arcadelt
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Famous As: Composer
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.

 24 Adrian Willaert

Adrian Willaert
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Famous As: Composer
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.

 25 Thomas Weelkes

Thomas Weelkes
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Famous As: organist, composer
Birthdate: October 25, 1576
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sussex
Died: November 30, 1623

 26 Cristóbal de Morales

Cristóbal de Morales
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1500 AD
Birthplace: Sevilla, Spain
Died: October 7, 1553

 27 Heinrich Isaac

Heinrich Isaac
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1450 AD
Birthplace: Flanders, Belgium
Died: March 26, 1517

 28 Constantijn Huygens

Constantijn Huygens
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 4, 1596
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: March 28, 1687

 29 Jacobus Gallus

Jacobus Gallus
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: July 3, 1550
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ribnica, Slovenia
Died: July 18, 1591

 30 Hans Leo Hassler

Hans Leo Hassler
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: October 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nürnberg, Germany
Died: June 8, 1612

 31 Luca Marenzio

Luca Marenzio
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Famous As: Composer & Singer
Birthdate: October 18, 1553
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Coccaglio
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. 

 32 Gioseffo Zarlino

Gioseffo Zarlino
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: January 31, 1517
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chioggia, Italy
Died: February 4, 1590

 33 Samuel Scheidt

Samuel Scheidt
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 3, 1587
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Halle, Germany
Died: March 24, 1654

 34 Pietro della Valle

Pietro della Valle
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Famous As: Composer
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.

 35 Juan del Encina

Juan del Encina
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: July 12, 1468
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: near Encinas, 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.

 36 Clément Janequin

Clément Janequin
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1485 AD
Birthplace: Châtellerault, France
Died: 1558 AD

 37 Antonio de Cabezón

Antonio de Cabezón
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: March 30, 1510
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Castrillo Mota de Judíos, Spain
Died: March 26, 1566

 38 Pierre de La Rue

Pierre de La Rue
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1452 AD
Birthplace: Tournai, Belgium
Died: November 20, 1518

 39 John Farmer

John Farmer
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1570 AD
Birthplace: England
Died: 1601 AD

 40 Francisco Guerrero

Francisco Guerrero
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: October 4, 1528
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Seville, Spain
Died: November 8, 1599

 41 Thomas Tomkins

Thomas Tomkins
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1572 AD
Birthplace: Saint David’s, England
Died: June 9, 1656

 42 Nicolas Gombert

Nicolas Gombert
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Famous As: Flemish composer
Birthdate: 1495 AD
Birthplace: Flanders, Belgium
Died: 1560 AD

 43 Martin Rinkart

Martin Rinkart
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Famous As: Musical Artist
Birthdate: April 23, 1586
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Eilenburg, Germany
Died: December 8, 1649

 44 Nicholas Lanier

Nicholas Lanier
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: September 10, 1588
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 24, 1666

 45 Jean Mouton

Jean Mouton
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1459 AD
Birthplace: France
Died: October 30, 1522

 46 Alexander Agricola

Alexander Agricola
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 30, 1445
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Flanders
Died: August 15, 1506

 47 Emilio de' Cavalieri

Emilio de' Cavalieri
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1550 AD
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: March 11, 1602

 48 Luis de Milán

Luis de Milán
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Famous As: Composer
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.

 49 Thomas Ravenscroft

Thomas Ravenscroft
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1588 AD
Birthplace: Sussex, England
Died: 1635 AD

 50 Christopher Tye

Christopher Tye
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1505 AD
Birthplace: Cambridgeshire, England
Died: 1573 AD