Heinrich Isaac, who came from Flanders (or “Flandria”, as he called it) and was of the third generation of Flemish polyphonists, had an international career. He greatly influenced Franco-Flemish, Italian, and Central European music. It was owing to his work that vocal polyphony in German-speaking regions flourished. His versatility as ...
Biography Heinrich Isaac
Heinrich Isaac, who came from Flanders (or “Flandria”, as he called it) and was of the third generation of Flemish polyphonists, had an international career. He greatly influenced Franco-Flemish, Italian, and Central European music. It was owing to his work that vocal polyphony in German-speaking regions flourished. His versatility as a composer finds eloquent expression in the many artistic and technical brilliancies of his music. Notable are the many different styles found in his oeuvre, in which imitative counterpoint plays a prominent role. He has written: 'Choralis Contantinus' (99 Mass propers), 36 Mass cycles, 13 settings of the Credo, ca. 50 secular and sacred motets (free composition, paraphrase and cantus firmus motets), ca. 100 secular multiple voice songs on Dutch, German, French, Italian, and Latin texts (including Tenorlieder, chansons and canti carnascialeschi) and ca. 60 instrumental compositions. Nothing is known of his life until the year 1484.
Isaac is mentioned in relation to a composition commissioned for the court of Duke Sigismund of Innsbruck. The song Innsbruck, Ich muss dich lassen is indeed attributed to Isaac. He travels to Florence and until 1493 is a singer at the cathedral there and several other churches. He has frequent contact with the De Medici family during these years, principally with Lorenzo de Medici (Il Magnifico).
Isaac is named to the prestigious post of composer at the Habsburg court of Maximilian I. He takes up residence in Vienna and with the imperial court chapel visits such important cities as Augsburg, Konstanz and Innsbruck. The emperor allows him to undertake various journeys.
1497 - 1498
Isaac is employed at the court of Frederick the Wise of Saxony.
He travels to Florence and Ferrara, where Josquin des Prez rather than Isaac receives an appointment to the court of the Este family.
He travels to Konstanz and is commissioned by the cathedral chapter to compose the Choralis Constantinus. He travels again to Florence.
1507 - 1508
Issac lives in Konstanz.
Maximilian I names Isaac to a diplomatic post in Florence, where he has contact with the De Medici family, who have been restored to power.
He is appointed provost of the chapter of the cathedral in Florence.
He sets up permanent residence in Florence.
Isaac dies on March 26 and is buried in the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi.
1550 - 1555
The 'Choralis Constantinus' is completed by Isaac's student Ludwig Senfl and under his supervision published in three volumes. Isaac polyphonically incorporates Gregorian chant in this magnum opus and employs every manner of imitative techniques.
Discography Heinrich Isaac
In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.
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