Monday, September 3, 2007

Heinrich Isaac (c 1450-1517)

Sierra Club


It would be going too far to say that Heinrich Isaac is an unjustly neglected composer: yet his reputation is still confined to the limbo which contains so many of the leading figures of the renaissance period. He is probably a little more performed than Philippe de Monte. But in the company of those few who were rated amongst the very best in their lifetimes, Isaac has much to prove to modern audiences. No one would think on current evidence to mention him in the same breath as his great contemporary and fellow-Netherlander Josquin Des Pres, yet in the early years of the sixteenth century they were held to be on the same level of achievement: the two pre-eminent composers in Europe. If it became commonplace to treat Josquin and Isaac as a complementary pair, in the way that Lassus and Palestrina or J.S. Bach and Handel are, an instructive shift in emphasis would be achieved. No longer would Josquin be alone amongst the composers active around 1500 to have his music made available in inexpensive modern editions: perhaps the first monograph on Isaac would be written, bringing him out of the exclusive preserve of German-language scholarship. [Adapted from Karadar]


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