The Renaissance

Music of the Renaissance (1450 A.D. – 1600 A.D.)

Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of The Mona Lisa illustrates the art and culture surrounding the music of the Renaissance (Machlis & Forney, 2003).

The word Renaissance means “rebirth”. The Renaissance was a time of the rebirth of the intellect and a blossoming of the arts (Kleiner, Mamiya, & Tansey, 2001). In Italy, where the musical and artistic center of the period was Florence, the poet Petrarch was forming his Humanistic ideals (Stanley, 2005). The artists Andrea Mantegna, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian chose many of their artistic works to be on religious topics as well as on secular topics (Kleiner, Mamiy, & Tansey, 2001).

In history, the Fall of Constantinople occured in 1453 A.D. (Machlis & Forney, 2003). The Gutenberg Bible was printed in 1456 A.D. (Machlis & Forney, 2003). Columbus discovered the New World in 1492 A.D. (Machlis & Forney, 2003). The first music book was printed in Italy in 1501 A.D. (Machlis & Forney, 2003). The Dutch humanist and writer, Erasmus, wrote: The Praise of Folly, in 1509 A.D. (McKay, Hill, & Buckler, 2003).

In 1543 A.D., the astronomer Copernicus wrote: On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies (McKay, Hill, & Buckler, 2003).

Martin Luther, the German religious reformer, lived from 1483-1546 A.D. (Machlis & Forney, 2003).

Elizabeth I was crowned queen of England in 1558 A.D. (McKay, Hill, & Buckler, 2003).

Pierre de Ronsard, the French poet, lived from 1524-1585 A.D. (Machlis & Forney, 2003).

William Shakespeare, the English dramatist, lived from 1564-1616 A.D. (McKay, Hill, & Buckler, 2003).

The Renaissance is said to be the “golden age” of “a cappella” (unaccompanied vocal singing) music (Machlis & Forney, 2003, p. 107). Renaissance music exhibited a fuller and “more consonant sound” than the music of the Middle Ages (Machlis & Forney, 2003, p. 107).

Links to some famous musical composers and musicians of the Renaissance are listed in the margin to the left.


Burrows, J. (Ed.). (2005). Classical Music. New York: Dorling Kindersley Limited.

Kleiner, F., Mamiya, C. & Tansey, R. (2001). Gardner’s art through the ages: Vol II. Florida: Harcourt College Publishers.

Machlis, J. & Forney, K. (2003). The enjoyment of music. N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

McKay, J., Hill, B., & Buckler, J. (2003). A history of western society. Vol. I. Seventh Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Stanley, J. (2005). Classical music: The great composers and their masterworks. London: Octopus Publishing Group Ltd.

Von der Haegen, A. & Strasser, R. (2001). Art and architecture: Tuscany. Neue Stalling, Oldengurg, Germany: Konemann.