Personalities | Heinrich Isaac | Renaissance | Classical
(Hin’-rikh E’-zak) c. 1450–1517
Isaac worked in Florence from the mid-1480s until 1494, when the changing fortunes of the Medici family cost him his job. In 1497 he was hired by the Habsburg emperor Maximilian I, to the appointment of Hofkomponist (court composer). Although he remained in Maximilian’s pay for the rest of his life, he travelled and lived in various places in Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Ten years in Italy left a lasting impression on his musical style. In their simple homophony his many German songs resemble the Italian frottola. His most famous work, ‘Insbrugk, ich muss dich lassen’ (‘Innsbruck, I Must Leave Thee’, 1583) is a tender farewell to a city he knew well. In 1508–09, Isaac began work on the Choralis constantinus, a set of polyphonic Mass music for the entire liturgical year. This enormous project remained unfinished at his death; edited posthumously by his student Senfl, it was finally published in 1550–55. The twentieth-century composer Anton Webern (1883–1945) received his doctorate for his study of Isaac.
Missa de apostolis, Motets, Tallis Scholars (dir) Peter Phillips (Gimell)
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