middle ages Search TheMiddleAges.net

Composers of the Middle Ages

A page of medieval music from Perotin

There are few composers from the middle ages that are known today, yet we know that music was an important part of the medieval culture. The following links provide more information and music samples from these Middle Ages Composers.

Hilegard von Bingen

Born: 1098, Bermersheim, Germany
Died: September 17, 1179, Rupertsberg, Germany.

Hildegard of Bingen, also known as Blessed Hildegard and Saint Hildegard, was a German abbess, author, counselor, linguist, naturalist, scientist, philosopher, physician, herbalist, poet, channeller, visionary and composer. Elected a magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136, she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and Eibingen in 1165. She is a composer with an extant biography from her own time. One of her works, the Ordo Virtutum, is an early example of liturgical drama. She wrote theological, botanical and medicinal texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs, poems, and the first surviving morality play, while supervising brilliant miniature Illuminations.

Music sample ("O frondens virga" from Ordo Virtutum)

Moniot d'Arras

Moniot d'Arras (fl. ca. 1225) was a French composer and poet of the trouvère tradition.[1] He was a monk of the abbey of Arras in northern France; the area was at the time a center of trouvère activity, and his contemporaries included Adam de la Halle and Colin Muset.[2] His songs were all monophonic songs in the traditions of pastoral romance and courtly love; he also wrote religious songs. About fifteen of his secular songs, and two religious songs, survive; his most famous song is Ce fut en mai.


Adam de la Halle

Born: 1245–50. Arras, France
Died: ?1285–88. Naples, Italy; or after 1306 in England

Adam de la Halle, also known as Adam le Bossu (Adam the Hunchback) (1237?-1288) was a French-born trouvère, poet and musician, who broke with the long-established tradition of writing liturgical poetry and music to be an early founder of secular theater in France. He was a member of the Confrérie des jongleurs et bourgeois d'Arras.


Guillaume de Machaut

Born: c. 1300, Rheims
Died: April 13, 1377, Rheims

Guillaume de Machaut, sometimes spelled Machault, (c. 1300 – April 1377), was an important Medieval French poet and composer. He is one of the earliest composers for whom significant biographical information is available. Guillaume de Machaut was "the last great poet who was also a composer," in the words of the scholar Daniel Leech-Wilkinson. Well into the 15th century, Machaut's poetry was greatly admired and imitated by other poets including the likes of Geoffrey Chaucer.



Born: fl. c. 1200
Died: ?

Pérotin (fl. c. 1200), also called Perotin the Great, was a European composer, believed to be French, who lived around the end of the twelfth and beginning of the 13th century. He was the most famous member of the Notre Dame school of polyphony. He was one of very few composers of his day whose name has been preserved, and can be reliably attached to individual compositions; this is due to the testimony of an anonymous English student at Notre Dame known as Anonymous IV, who wrote about him and his predecessor Léonin. Anonymous IV called him "Perotin Magister", which means "Pérotin the master or expert." The name Pérotin is itself derived from "Perotinus," the Latin diminutive of Petrus, the Latin version of the French name Pierre.


Tylman Susato

Born: c. 1510–1515. Soest (near Dortmund), Germany
Died: 1570 or after. Sweden

Tielman Susato (also Tylman) (c. 1510/15 – after 1570) was a Renaissance Flemish composer, instrumentalist and publisher of music in Antwerp. While his place of birth is unknown, some scholars believe that because of his name—Susato meaning de Soest, of the town of Soest — he may be from the town of that name in Westphalia.

Not much is known about his early life, but he begins appearing in various Antwerp archives of around 1530 working as a calligrapher as well as an instrumentalist: trumpet, flute and tenor pipe are listed as instruments that he owned. From 1543 until his death he worked as a music publisher, creating the first music press in the Netherlands; until then printing had mainly been done in Italy, France and Germany. Soon afterwards, Susato was joined by Pierre Phalèse at Leuven and Christopher Plantin, also in Antwerp, and the Low Countries became a regional center of music publishing. It is possible that Susato also ran a musical instrument business, and he attempted several times to form partnerships with other publishers but none were successful. In 1561 his son Jacob Susato, who died in 1564, took over his publishing business. Tielman Susato first moved to Alkmaar, North Holland, and later to Sweden. The last known record of him dates of 1570.




Related Links:

The Middle Ages

People of the Middle Ages

Music of the Middle Ages

Return to The Middle Ages