The Polyphonic Music Story

This the story of the style of European “classical” choral, and mostly liturgical, music that prevailed during the 700-year cycle that spanned the 10th through the 16th centuries. This Polyphonic Music Era will be superseded by what Don Robertson calls The Instrumental Music Era that began at the beginning of the 17th century.

The Polyphonic Music Story Part 1 - The 10th through 14th Century (45 minutes)

Part One begins with the various chant genres that were sung in the Roman church. They would be mostly superseded by Gregorian chant, from which sprang organum. The Islamic culture of Al-Andalus (Spain and Portugal of today) spread to Southern France, leading to the Renaissance of the 12th century and the music of the Troubadours, Trouvères, and the Meistersingers. The advances of the 14th century included the styles of music known as the ars nova, trecento, and the ars sublior.  

The Polyphonic Music Story Part 2 - The 15th Century (35 minutes)

Part Two covers the polyphonic music of the 15th century. The century opens with music inspired by the humanist movement that began in Italy and spread throughout Europe. Under the rule of the Burgundian court, the Franco-Flemish school of art and music developed, and a new style of music spread throughout Europe, with Flemish composers working in the major cities. Franco-Flemish music was the dominant style of music during the 15th century.  

The Polyphonic Music Story Part 3 – The 16th Century Part One (35 minutes)

Parts Three and Four of the Polyphonic Music Story cover the 16th century, the century of Renaissance, where polyphonic music reached its pure harmonic zenith. A number of composers are covered in this section, beginning with the Franco-Flemish composer Josquin des Prez. As the Franco-Flemish style continued through the first part of the century, it found a culmination in the music of Orlando di Lasso, who worked in the Bavarian court in Munich. This part of the story ends with the music of two important native French composers, Jean Mouton and Elzéar Carpentras-Genet.  

The Polyphonic Music Story Part 4 – The 16th Century Part Two (45 minutes)

The last part of the Polyphonic Music Story details the development of polyphonic music during the final decades of the 16th century. Starting with Italy, we cover the Venetian School composers Andrea Gabrieli and Giovanni Croce, and the Roman School composers Felice Anerio, Giovanni Maria Nanino and Giovanni da Palestrina. In Florence, we find Alessandro Striggio and the notorious Carlo Gesualdo. Moving on to Tudor England, we discover the music of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. Germany is represented by Ludwg Senfl and Gregor Aichinger; Eastern Europe by Jacob Handl. The music of Spain during this century is best represent by three great composers: Cristóbal de Morales, Francisco Guerrero and Tomás Luis de Victoria.