The Early Music Show: High Renaissance

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Saturday, 4 June, 2011

Today’s edition of our monthly programme on Early Music focuses primarily, though not exclusively, on the High Renaissance period, which is generally regarded as occupying the period between around 1490 and 1527.

The best-known composer of this period – and possibly the best-known Renaissance composer of all – is Michael Praetorius (1571–1621).

Born Michael Schultze (“Praetorius” is a Latinised form of the name) and the son of a German Lutheran preacher, he was an exceptionally prolific composer. He wrote a great many works for the Lutheran church including a collection of over a thousand chorales and sacred songs.

He also composed a wealth of secular music, of which unfortunately much is probably lost. However what we do have is marvellous: Terpsichore (pronounced “Terp-SIC-oree”), published in 1612, is a compendium of over 300 instrumental dances of which some are well-known even today, and pieces from this immense work form the backbone of modern performances of Renaissance music. We will be hearing diverse selections from this work today.

Praetorius was also a prolific writer, and his most important work of which we are aware is the 3-volume Syntagma Musicum, an extraordinary compendium of information on musical instruments and practice of the High Renaissance. This work has been extremely important in informing the instrumentation and performance of Renaissance music in modern times.

In addition to the work of Praetorius, we’ll be hearing a comprehensive selection of music of the period from across Western Europe.

Today’s programme is presented by Elrik Merlin and produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with the Alexandrian Free Library Consortium of Second Life. You can listen to the programme now at; outside the US, tune to in-world, or simply click here if your browser is configured to launch a player automatically.

For more information on the Alexandrian Free Library, current exhibits and the work of Consortium members in general, please visit the Alexandrian Free Library website, or one of their branches in-world.


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