Dunstaple was probably born in Dunstable, Bedfordshire. His birth date is a conjecture based on his earliest surviving works (from around 1410–1420) which imply a birth date of around 1390. Many of the details of his life are conjectural. Nothing is known of his musical training and background. He was clearly a highly educated man, though there is no record of an association with either Oxford or Cambridge universities. He is widely held to have been in the royal service of John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford, the fourth son of Henry IV and brother of Henry V. As such he may have stayed in France for some time, since the duke was Regent of France from 1423 to 1429, and then Governor of Normandy from 1429 to his death in 1435. He owned property in Normandy, and also in Cambridgeshire, Essex and London, according to tax records of 1436. After the death in 1437 of another patron, the Dowager Queen Joan, he evidently was in the service of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the fifth son of Henry IV.
From the evidence of his will, he was probably born in Beersel, in the vicinity of Brussels, the illegitimate child of an unknown priest and a woman named Marie Du Fayt. She moved with her son to Cambrai early in his life, staying with a relative who was a canon of the cathedral there. His musical gifts were noticed by the cathedral authorities, who evidently gave him a thorough training in music; he studied with Rogier de Hesdin during the summer of 1409, and he was listed as a choirboy in the cathedral from 1409-12. During those years he studied with Nicolas Malin, and the authorities must have been impressed with the boy's gifts because they gave him his own copy of Villedieu’s Doctrinale in 1411, a highly unusual event for one so young. In June 1414, aged around 16, he had already been given a benefice as chaplain at St. Géry, immediately adjacent to Cambrai. Later that year, on the evidence of music composed, and a later relationship with the Malatesta court, members of which he met on the trip, he probably went to the Council of Konstanz. He likely stayed there until 1418, at which time he returned to Cambrai.[
The spelling of Ockeghem's name comes from a supposed autograph of his which survived as late as 1885, and was reproduced by Eugène Giraudet, a historian in Tours; the document has since been lost. In 15th-century sources, the spelling "Okeghem" predominates.
Ockeghem is believed to have been born in Saint-Ghislain, Belgium. His birthdate is unknown; dates as early as 1410 and as late as 1430 have been proposed. The earlier date is based on the possibility that he knew Binchois in Hainaut before the older composer moved from Mons to Lille in 1423. Ockeghem would have to have been younger than 15 at the time. This particular speculation derives from Ockeghem's reference, in the lament he wrote on the death of Binchois in 1460, to a chanson by Binchois dated to that time. In this lament Ockeghem not only honored the older composer by imitating his style, but also revealed some useful biographical information about him. The comment by the poet Guillaume Crétin, in the lament he wrote on Ockeghem's death in 1497, "it was a great shame that a composer of his talents should die before 100 years old", is also often taken as evidence for the earlier birthdate for Ockeghem.
often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. His original name is sometimes given as Josquin Lebloitte and his later name is given under a wide variety of spellings in French, Italian, and Latin, including Iosquinus Pratensis and Iodocus a Prato. His motet Illibata Dei virgo nutrix includes an acrostic of his name, where he spelled it "Josquin des Prez". He was the most famous European composer between Guillaume Dufay and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, and is usually considered to be the central figure of the Franco-Flemish School. Josquin is widely considered by music scholars to be the first master of the high Renaissance style of polyphonic vocal music that was emerging during his lifetime.
He was born in 1468 near Salamanca, probably at Encina de San Silvestre, one of at least 7 known children of Juan de Fermoselle, a shoemaker, and his wife. He was of Jewish converso descent. After leaving Salamanca University sometime in 1492 he became a member of the household of Don Fadrique de Toledo, the second Duke of Alba, although some sources believe that he did not work for the Duke of Alba until 1495. A plausible argument is that his first post was as a Corregidor in northern Spain.
Fermoselle was a Chaplain at the Salamanca Cathedral in the early 1490s. It was here that he changed his name from Juan de Fermoselle to Juan del Enzina, or Encina (meaning holm oak) during his stay as Chaplain. He was later forced to resign as Chaplain because he was not ordained
Janequin was born in Châtellerault, Vienne, near Poitiers, though no documents survive which establish any details of his early life or training. His career was highly unusual for his time, in that he never had a regular position with a cathedral or an aristocratic court. Instead he held a series of minor positions, often with important patronage. In 1505 he was employed as a clerk in Bordeaux, to Lancelot du Fau, who eventually became Bishop of Luçon; he retained this position until du Fau's death in 1523, at which time he took a position with the Bishop of Bordeaux. Around this time he became a priest, though his appointments were rarely lucrative; indeed he always complained about money.
Senfl was probably born in Basel around 1486, and lived in Zürich from 1488 until 1496, when he joined the choir of the Hofkapelle of Emperor Maximilian I in Augsburg. Apart from one brief visit in 1504 he appears never again to have lived in Switzerland.
In 1497 he followed the Hofkapelle to Vienna, and between 1500 and 1504 he probably studied in Vienna for three years, the standard practice for choirboys whose voices had broken, as part of the normal training for the priesthood. During this period he studied with Heinrich Isaac, serving as his copyist by 1509; he is known to have copied much of the older composer's Choralis Constantinus, an enormous work which he was later to complete after Isaac's death.
Sermisy was most likely born either in Picardy, Burgundy, or Île-de-France, based on the similarity of his surname to place names there. Sometime in his early life he may have studied with Josquin des Prez, if Pierre Ronsard is to be believed, but many musicologists consider the claim unreliable; at any rate he absorbed some of the older composer's musical ideas either early, or later, as he became acquainted with his music. Josquin was possibly at the French court between 1501 and about 1503, though this has never been definitely established, so a master-pupil relationship would have been possible then; Sermisy's whereabouts before 1508 are not known, but presence at the Royal Chapel was certainly possible.
Luis de Narváez (fl. 1526–49) was a Spanish composer and vihuelist. Highly regarded during his lifetime, Narváez is known today for Los seys libros del delphín, a collection of polyphonic music for the vihuela which includes the earliest known variation sets. He is also notable for being the earliest composer for vihuela to adapt the contemporary Italian style of lute music.
The exact date or even year of Narváez's birth is unknown. He was born in Granada and the earliest surviving references to him indicate that as early as 1526 he was a member of the household of Francisco de los Cobos y Molina, a well-known and very successful patron of the arts who was the secretary of State and comendador for the kingdom of Castile under Charles V. Narváez lived in Valladolid with his patron until the latter's death in 1547. It was during this period that the composer published Los seys libros del delphín (Valladolid, 1538), a large collection of music
Cristóbal de Morales was born in Seville and, after an exceptional early education there which included a rigorous training in the classics as well as musical study with some of the foremost composers, he held posts at Ávila and Plasencia. All that is known about his family is that he had a sister, and that his father had died prior to his sister's marriage (in 1530). Others who lived in Seville were considered to be potential relatives of Morales. These include Cristóbal de Morales, whose position was to sing for the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1504, Alonso de Morales, whose title was treasurer of the cathedral in 1503, Francisco de Morales (d 1505), a canon, and Diego de Morales, who was the cathedral notary in 1525.
Andrea Amati was a luthier, from Cremona, Italy. Amati is credited with making the first instruments of the violin family that are in the form we use today. According to the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota:
It was in the workshop of Andrea Amati (ca. 1505-1577) in Cremona, Italy, in the middle of the 16th century that the form of the instruments of the violin family as we know them today first crystallized.
Several of his instruments survive to the present day, and some of them can still be played. Many of the surviving instruments were among a consignment of 38 instruments delivered to Charles IX of France in 1564.
Cabezón was born in Castrillo Mota de Judíos, a municipality near Burgos, in the north of Spain. Nothing is known about his formative years. He became blind in early childhood, and he may have been educated at the Palencia Cathedral by the organist there, García de Baeza. At the time, the country was slowly entering its Golden Age. On 14 March 1516, Charles V was proclaimed King of Castile and of Aragon jointly with his mother, the first time the crowns of Castile and Aragon were united under the same king. After the death of his paternal grandfather, Maximilian, in 1519, Charles also inherited the Habsburg lands in Austria, and later went on to become Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and one of the most powerful monarchs in the world.
Palestrina was born in the town of Palestrina, near Rome, then part of the Papal States. Documents suggest that he first visited Rome in 1537, when he is listed as a chorister at the Santa Maria Maggiore basilica. He studied with Robin Mallapert and Firmin Lebel. He spent most of his career in the city.
Palestrina came of age as a musician under the influence of the northern European style of polyphony, which owed its dominance in Italy primarily to two influential Netherlandish composers, Guillaume Dufay and Josquin des Prez, who had spent significant portions of their careers there. Italy itself had yet to produce anyone of comparable fame or skill in polyphony.
From 1544 to 1551, Palestrina was the organist of the Cathedral of St. Agapito, the principal church of his native city. His first published compositions, a book of Masses, had made so favorable an impression with Pope Julius III (previously the Bishop of Palestrina) that in 1551 he appointed Palestrina maestro di cappella or musical director of the Cappella Giulia, (Julian Chapel, in the sense of choir), the choir of the chapter of canons at St. Peter's Basilica. This book of Masses was the first by a native composer, since in the Italian states of Palestrina's day, most composers of sacred music were from the Low Countries, France, Portugal
Guerrero's early musical education was with his older brother Pedro. He must have been an astonishing prodigy, for at the age of 17 he was already appointed maestro de capilla (singing master, i.e. music director) at Jaén Cathedral. A few years later he accepted a position in Seville. Apparently during this time he was much in demand as a singer and composer, establishing an exceptional reputation before his thirtieth birthday; in addition he published several collections of his music abroad, an unusual event for a young composer.
Victoria was born in Sanchidrián in the province of Ávila, Castile around 1548 and died in 1611. Victoria's family can be traced back for generations. Not only are the names of the members in his immediate family known, but even the occupation of his grandfather. Victoria was the seventh of nine children born to Francisco Luis de Victoria and Francisca Suárez de la Concha. His mother was of converso descent. After his father's death in 1557, his uncle, Juan Luis, became his guardian. He was a choirboy in Ávila Cathedral. Cathedral records state that his uncle, Juan Luis, presented Victoria's Liber Primus to the Church while reminding them that Victoria had been brought up in the Ávila Cathedral. Because he was such an accomplished organist, many believe that he began studying the keyboard at an early age from a teacher in Ávila. Victoria most likely began studying "the classics" at St. Giles's, a boys' school in Ávila. This school was praised by St.Teresa of Avila and other highly regarded people of music.
Monteverdi is considered a crucial transitional figure between the Renaissance and the Baroque periods of music history. While he worked extensively in the tradition of earlier Renaissance polyphony, such as in his madrigals, he also made great developments in form and melody and began employing the basso continuo technique, distinctive of the Baroque. Monteverdi wrote one of the earliest operas, L'Orfeo, which is the earliest surviving opera still regularly performed