The Renaissance era

Generally considered to be from c.1420 to 1600, the Renaissance (which literally means “rebirth”) was a time of great cultural awakening and a flowering of the arts, letters, and sciences throughout Europe.

With the rise of humanism, sacred music began for the first time to break free of the confines of the Church, and a school of composers trained in the Netherlands mastered the art of polyphony in their settings of sacred music. One of the early masters of the Flemish style was Josquin des Prez. These polyphonic traditions reached their culmination in the unsurpassed works of Giovanni da Palestrina.

The late Renaissance also saw in England the flourishing of the English madrigal, the best known of which were composed by such masters as John Dowland, William Byrd, Thomas Morley and others.

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