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Aaron [Aron], Pietro  

Bonnie J. Blackburn


(b Florence, c1480; d after 1545). Italian theorist and composer. Nothing is known of Aaron’s early training, his teacher, or his career before 1516. He claims to have had ‘the greatest friendship and familiarity’ with Josquin, Obrecht, Isaac, and Agricola in Florence (most likely between 1487 and 1495, and not necessarily at the same time). By 1516 he was a priest in Imola, where he wrote his first book, Libri tres de institutione harmonica, translated into Latin by the humanist Giovanni Antonio Flaminio. A contemporary poem by Achille Bocchi praises Aaron for rescuing music ‘from squalor and dismal neglect’. By March 1520 he was a singer in Imola Cathedral and from the next year a chaplain; he was also paid by the city to teach music to those who wished to learn. His career in Imola ended abruptly in June 1522 when he was wounded in a factional uprising and his chapel in the cathedral destroyed (Blackburn, forthcoming). By ...


Abrabanel, Isaac ben Judah  

Don Harrán

(b Lisbon, 1437; d Venice, 1508). Philosopher and biblical exegete. His writing on music forms the introduction to his commentary on Exodus xv (the ‘Song of the Sea’, 1505; I-Rvat Rossiano 925, also printed in Venice in 1579). Relying on earlier sources including Ibn Rushd's commentary on Aristotle's Poetics and Moses ibn Tibbon's commentary on the Song of Solomon, Abrabanel describes three kinds of verse set to music: with metre and rhyme, as in Hebrew hymns (piyyutim); without metre or rhyme, yet arranged in a succession of short and long lines (as in the ‘Song of the Sea’); and metaphorical texts, by which he appears to refer to Psalms. Whereas, for him, the first and third kinds do not require music to qualify as poetry (prosodic considerations prevail in the first, conceptual ones in the third), the second kind does (its construction depends on its musical usage). Yet all three kinds rely on music for their usual mode of presentation. The author recognizes different functions for music in conjunction with poetry: to serve as a mnemonic device for retaining the texts, to improve the understanding of their content, and to elevate the spirit....


Abyndon [Abingdon], Henry  

Roger Bowers

(b c1420; d 1497). English church musician. He was noted as a fine singer and skilful organist. After service in the household of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (until 1447), and as a lay clerk of Eton College (1447–51), where he was one of the four clerks specially responsible for singing polyphony in the college chapel, he became a clerk of the Chapel Royal in 1451, and Master of the Choristers there from 1455 to 1478. His duties included teaching the boys to play the organ and to sing plainsong and improvised polyphony; also it seems probable that he was instrumental in the introduction about this time of the use of boys’ voices in composed polyphony. The award to him in 1464 of a Cambridge MusB reflects his eminence in the musical profession – he is the earliest known recipient of this degree – while the patronage of Bishop Bekynton brought him valuable sinecures in the diocese of Bath and Wells. His last years were spent as a resident of Sanctuary Yard, Westminster Abbey....



David Fallows

( fl c 1420). Composer . His three-voice rondeau Je demande ma bienvenue survives only in the manuscript GB-Ob Can.misc.213 (facs., Chicago, 1995; ed. in CMM, xi/2, 1959). Its extreme simplicity and economy of gesture suggest that the composer is not identifiable with Johannes Haucourt , composer of an apparently much earlier virelai in the same manuscript....



Tom R. Ward

revised by David Fallows

(fl 1420–30). Composer, possibly French. His three rondeaux, Au temps vendra, Au grief hermitage and Tout a caup, were copied into the manuscript GB-Ob Can.misc.213 soon after 1430 (all ed. in CMM, xi/2, 1959). He could be identifiable with Adam Fabri, clerc de matines at Notre Dame in Paris in 1415; Adam Meigret, first chaplain to Charles VI of France at the time of the king's death in 1422; Erasmus Adam, mentioned in the motet lamenting the death of King Albrecht II in 1439; Adam Hustini de Ora from Cambrai, who was in the Habsburg chapel in 1442–3; or more likely Adamo Grand (sometimes called Magister Adam), master of the choirboys at the Savoy ducal chapel from 1433 to 1438.

J., J.F.R. and C. Stainer, eds.: Dufay and his Contemporaries (London, 1898/R) [incl. complete edition] D. Fallows: A Catalogue of Polyphonic Songs, 1415–1480 (Oxford, 1999)...


Afonso [Affonso], Alvaro  

Albert T. Luper

revised by Manuel Pedro Ferreira

(fl 1440–71). Portuguese court musician. He was a singer in the royal chapel sometime between 1440 and 1446. A letter of 1452 identifies him as mestre de capela of Afonso V. At an uncertain date, but certainly before 1461, King Afonso V (ruled 1446–81) sent him to England to obtain the Chapel Ordinance in use at the court of Henry VI, to serve as a model for the Portuguese court; this document, the most detailed surviving account of any medieval royal chapel, is still in the Biblioteca Pública in Évora under the title Forma siue ordinaçõ capelle illustrissimi et xtianissimi principis Henrici sexti Regis Anglie et ffrancie ac dni hibernie, descripta Serenissimo principi Alfonso Regi Portuigalie illustri, per humilem servitore[m] suu[m], Willi'u Say, Decanu[m] capelle supradicte (William Say was dean of the royal chapel between 1449 and 1468...


Agricola [Ackerman], Alexander  

Edward R. Lerner

revised by Rob C. Wegman and Fabrice Fitch

(b Ghent, ?1445/6; d Valladolid, August 15, 1506). South Netherlandish composer, active in Italy, France and the Low Countries. He was renowned for his composition in all genres cultivated in his time, and his music was as widely distributed as that of any of his contemporaries.

Some biographical information can be gleaned from the text of a musical setting entitled Epitaphion Alexandri Agricolae symphonistae regis Castiliae, printed by Georg Rhau in 1538. Here, the composer is called a ‘Belgian’, who died in 1506 at the age of 60 while travelling through Spain in the service of Philip the Fair. Two more epitaphs have recently been discovered by Bonnie Blackburn; one of these specifies the date of death, and reveals that he was a native of Ghent. Archival documents and musical manuscripts give his surname almost invariably as Agricola, although one payment record from the Burgundian court, written in ...


Agricola, Rudolph  

Lewis Lockwood

(b Groningen, 1443; d Heidelberg, Oct 28, 1485). German humanist and philosopher who was also active as a musician. His early studies took place in Groningen, but in the late 1460s he travelled to Italy for further humanistic training. In 1468 he was at the University of Pavia, where he studied jurisprudence for several years. Later he transferred to Ferrara, where he studied Greek at the Studio and in 1476 delivered a Latin oration for the opening of the academic year in the presence of Duke Ercole I d’Este of Ferrara. This oration praised Duke Ercole’s musical abilities with more than rhetorical flattery; Ercole was remarkably interested in music, and Agricola was formally engaged in December 1476 as organist of the ducal chapel, one of the largest and most opulent in Europe. Agricola’s appointment is confirmed by archival records and by his letters (see Allen); in a letter written at Easter ...


‘Abd al-Qādir  

Owen Wright

[ibn Ghaybī al-Marāghi]

(b Maragh; d Herat, 1435). Timurid composer, performer and theorist. He first rose to prominence in the service of the Jalā’irid rulers of Iraq and Azerbaijan, al-Ḥusayn (1374–82) and Aḥmad (1382–1410). After the conquest of Baghdad by Tīmūr (1393), most of his career was spent in Samarkand and, especially, Herat, at the courts of Tīmūr and of his successors al-Khalīl (1404–9) and Shāh Rukh (1409–47).

‘Abd al-Qādir was one of the most important and influential theorists of the Systematist school. His most substantial surviving works are the Jāmi‘ al-al ḥān (‘Compendium of melodies’), largely completed in 1405 and revised in 1413, and the slighter Maqāṣid al-al ḥān (‘Purports of melodies’), which covers essentially the same ground and probably dates from 1418. Written in Persian, which was by then the language of culture, these works proved particularly influential among later 15th-century theorists; but although both thoughtful and highly competent, on the theoretical side they may be regarded as, essentially, restatements and amplifications of the theory elaborated by ...


Alamire, Pierre  

Herbert Kellman

[Petrus; Imhove, Peter; van den Hove, Peter]

(b Nuremberg, c1470; d Mechelen, June 26, 1536). South Netherlandish music scribe of German birth. He was a member of the Nuremberg merchant family Imhof, but settled in the Netherlands in the early 1490s. He was active principally at the courts of Margaret of Austria, regent of the Netherlands, her successor Mary of Hungary and Emperor Charles V, in Mechelen and Brussels. He was one of several copyists – the others are anonymous – of a complex of more than 60 manuscripts of polyphonic music produced there between about 1495 and 1535. The earliest references to Alamire appear in the accounts for 1496/7 of the Confraternity of Our Lady in ’s-Hertogenbosch. He is listed once as a new member, and was paid for having copied one book of masses and portions of a second book, as well as a book of motets. In 1499 the Confraternity of Our Lady in Antwerp paid him for having copied a book of motets and ...


Alanus, Johannes  

David Fallows

(fl late 14th century or early 15th). English composer. He composed the motet Sub Arturo plebs/Fons citharizancium/In omnem terram and perhaps four songs; for the composer of one or possibly two pieces in the Old Hall Manuscript ( GB-Lbl Add.57950) see Aleyn. The composer of the motet (ascribed ‘Jo.Alani’ and containing a reference to ‘J. Alani minimus’) is sometimes identified with the Dominus Johannes Aleyn who was chaplain in Edward III’s Chapel Royal and canon of St George's Chapel, Windsor, from 1362 until his death in 1373 (full documentation in Wathey, pp.167–8); ‘unus rotulus de cantu musicali’ was bequeathed by him to the chapel. Many other prebends and favours appear to indicate royal patronage, particularly from Queen Philippa.

The motetus text of Sub Arturo plebs refers to earlier theorists whose work had led Alanus to compose a piece of such novel complexity. But the work’s main historical fascination lies in its triplum text, which names 14 musicians, most of them first identified by Brian Trowell among the royal households. Trowell originally associated the motet with two events at St George’s Chapel, Windsor: the foundation of the Order of the Garter in ...


Alard, Simon  


Alba [Alva, Alua], Alonso (Pérez) de  

Tess Knighton

(fl late 15th century or early 16th). Spanish composer. A number of sacred works and at least one song are attributed to this composer in Iberian sources; one work, a four-voice Agnus Dei, bears the ascription ‘Alonso Perez de Alba’. There are two possible candidates who may be identified with this composer.

In 1503 an ‘Alonso de Alva’ was appointed maestro de capilla in charge of the choristers at Seville Cathedral. He died before 4 September 1504, and after his death some books of polyphony in his possession were purchased by the cathedral chapter. He may well have been a composer, and the fact that Alba’s works are preserved among pieces by Peñalosa and Escobar, both of whom were closely connected with Seville, may be significant, even though he died considerably earlier than these composers.

The music attributed to Alba is also included in manuscripts associated with the royal chapels, and another Alonso de Alba can be found in the registers of the Castilian royal household. This man is first recorded as a chaplain in Queen Isabella’s chapel on ...


Alberti, Antonio degli  

Gianluca D’Agostino

(b Florence, c1358; d Bologna, 1415). Italian poet. The son of the wealthy merchant Nicolaio (d 1377), he inherited his father’s business and properties, including the famous country villa ‘Il Paradiso’. He took an active part in the Florentine government. In 1401, however, he and his brothers were charged with taking part in a conspiracy against the rival Albizzi family and were banished from Florence. His brothers went to Paris, whereas Antonio spent the rest of his life in Bologna, teaching algebra at the Studio. Another member of the exiled branch of the family in France and Antonio’s nephew, the poet Francesco d’Altobianco, is now thought to have brought on his way back to Florence (in about 1426–7) the exemplar for the manuscript now the Chantilly Codex ( F-CH 564), which belonged to him in 1461.

Giovanni da Prato, writing in about 1425–6 his fictional narrative known as ...


Alberti, Leon Battista  

Charles E. Brewer

(b Genoa, Feb 14, 1404; d Rome, April 3, 1472). Italian humanist, architect and writer. His formal studies began at the gymnasium of Gasparino Barzizza at Padua, where he became friends with Tommaso Parentucelli (later Pope Nicholas V). He went to Bologna, probably in 1421, to study law but became increasingly interested in mathematics, and met the polymath Paolo Toscanelli. In 1431, Alberti joined the Papal civil service in Rome, becoming Papal inspector of monuments (1447–55). He held various ecclesiastical posts, becoming successively prior of S Martino in Gangalandi at Signa, near Florence, rector of Borgo San Lorenzo and canon of Florence Cathedral.

Early in his career, Alberti was influenced by Filippo Brunelleschi, to whom he dedicated the De pictura (1435). While in Rome, Alberti expanded his knowledge of classical architecture and sculpture through his survey of the city's monuments (Descriptio urbis Romae...


Alemanno [Alemann], Johanan  

Don Harrán

(b c1435; d after 1504). Italian philosopher and biblical exegete. He wrote briefly on music in his Ḥesheq shelomoh (‘Solomon's desire’), a commentary on the Song of Solomon, written during the period 1488–92 at the request of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Music is discussed in relation to Hebrew poetics, then classified for its varieties and described for its powers. Under poetics, Alemanno notes that the word shir (‘song’) applies to poetry and music and, within music, to both vocal and instrumental types; he then discerns its usage in three species of poetry: metric and rhymed; non-metric and non-rhymed; and metaphorical. In accordance with the Latin music theorists Alemanno recognizes three kinds of music: natural, artificial and theoretical; the first two refer respectively to vocal and instrumental music and the third (nigun sikhli) to what other Hebrew theorists designate as ḥokhmat ha-musiqah (‘the science of music’). On the effect of music, Alemanno notes its power to awaken love on both earthly (or secular) and divine (or sacred) planes, which correspond to what he conceives as the two exegetical planes – the literal and the allegorical – for interpreting the ...



Margaret Bent

(fl c1400). English composer. He was the composer of two works in the Old Hall Manuscript. One is a Gloria (no.8), ascribed to ‘Aleyn’ without initial; it is a homorhythmic setting in score, notable for its sprightly text declamation. The other piece, also in score, is an erased descant setting of Sarum Agnus Dei no.3 (Old Hall, no.128), where the remains of the ascription appears to read ‘W. Aleyn’ (not ‘W. Typp’, as reported in D. Fallows: ...


Alfonso V [‘El Magnánimo’], King of Aragon  

Maricarmen Gómez

(b ?Medina del Campo, 1394; ruled 1416–58; d Naples, June 27, 1458). Spanish monarch and patron. He was the son of Fernando I of Antequera and Leonor of Albuquerque. His activity as patron is usually divided into two periods, before and after he had settled in Naples (1433). He was an outstanding patron of minstrels, among them the shawm player Jehan Boisard and the lutenist Rodrigo de la Guitarra. The choir of his royal chapel was, according to his contemporaries, one of the finest of its day. In the two earliest records of its members, dating from 1413 and 1417, there are 13 singers, among them Gacian Reyneau and Leonart Tallender, and two organists. His singers were recruited from Spain, France and Germany: in October 1419 he sent one of them, Huguet lo Franch, to his native land in search of singers, providing him with a letter offering all kinds of privileges. In ...


Almorox [Almoroix], Juan Alvárez de  

Isabel Pope

revised by Tess Knighton

(fl1482). Iberian composer. He was a singer in the Aragonese royal chapel of Ferdinand V over a period of almost 30 years, from 1482 until 1510. He was presented to various ecclesiastical benefices under royal patronage and held, presumably by proxy, the position of head chaplain of the Dominican monastery in Madrid until 1505.

He was also closely associated with Segovia Cathedral for the best part of his life, being appointed chapel master there from 1 October 1504. For some years he held both positions, but this must have proved incompatible for in the autumn of 1507 he was suspended from his post as chapel master for an unspecified breach of the rules and replaced by Francisco de San Juan. He remained a member of the chapter, however, and was much involved in cathedral business during long periods of absence from the royal chapel during the period ...