Worst Renaissance Composers
  • Interesting to see what people think.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,862
    Trying to start a fight, are you? LOL.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,022
    I have no answers right now, but I actually laughed out loud when I saw the title of this thread LOL
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,664
    Which Renaissance?
    Thanked by 2francis CHGiffen
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Nicolai Montani?
    Thanked by 1Andrew Malton
  • Anonymous had his good and bad days.
  • Gesualdo was not a visionary genius, just incompetent?

    Seriosly, have heard some preetty lame things about Orlando Gibbons' son, Christopher. E.g, Grove, "Gibbons excelled less as a composer than as an organ-player [...]"

    Although he was contemporary with Froberger, so perhaps no longer Renaissance. I never know whether to think of his father as Renaissance, pre-Baroque, or just to classify him by English monarch.
  • CGM
    Posts: 437
    A musicologist friend of mine offers a pithy assessment: There's less to Gesualdo than meets the ear.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,102
    If ANY composer from the Renaissance has music still in existence, that is no lame composition to have lasted that long.

    Granted, some are better than others, but still... most of the lame Rennaissance composers are the wannabe emulators alive today (such as Charles is hinting at)
    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • About Gibbons, et al.
    It is difficult to classify the English because of their well-known conservatism. Some castigate them for being 'behind the times' (as if that, in itself, was a negative category), which suggests that 'the Renaissance' as a definable musical category was yet fecund. It wouldn't be at all groundless to say that Gibbons, Tomkins, and others were Renaissance, even though they flourished during the early Baroque. Theirs is a peculiar place in music history.

    The same is true of Titelouze, who was writing 'renaissance' music even as the Baroque sun had risen. His successors show all too little of continuity with him and blazed a different trail.
    ________________________________________________

    I cannot agree with Francis in that longevity of popularity and usage ipso facto means musical worth.
  • I discovered this item on CPDL just yesterday: "Lord thou hast commanded (Baruch Bulman)". The editor includes the note that it is "one of the less competent compositions from Tudor England". I had to stifle my laughter.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Carol
    Posts: 440
    That is quite a text as well, GerardH. I can't quite see where it would be called for.
  • Haven't we all wanted to sing "for-ni-ca-ti-on" in semi-competent points of imitation?
  • Gerard you might have a winner with that one.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,862
    That A. Nonymous wrote some of the worst stuff I have ever heard.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,102
    MJO... I partly agree... wasn't exactly the point I was making.
  • At least the composer had the good sense to omit the bits about "whoredom" found in the original text!
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Carol
  • JonLaird
    Posts: 205
    Liam's question remaining unanswered, I'll not assume we have to be discussing that Renaissance, and answer that by far it has to be the Village People.

    Truly. Their "Renaissance" album was anything but.
  • Carol
    Posts: 440
    I would venture you are the only one here who could name an album by the Village People!
  • Can't name an album, but I definitely want to be a "Macho, macho man!"
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Carol
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,483
    The problem with such a thread is that only the most musicological know the really poor composers, because they still languish in manuscript. And since the Renaissance style is so consistent, it's harder to tell 'just works" from good.

    As a repertoire, the motets Attaignant was publishing in the 1530s are not "all that". There's some pretty incompetent stuff among some of the South American anonymi. But the worst Renaissance music was written in the 19th century. The ahistoric attempt to impose 18th-century Rome's taste on the Church, for all places and times, was extremely unfortunate.


  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,483
    Poor Mr. Bulman... poor dissonance control, and no sense of harmonic rhythm. As for the words, they'd be a riot to do in some NO Mass. If the priests won't preach on 6th commandment issues, I guess the music directors have to. But I think it would be a distinct improvement for Meloche to do a recto tono setting.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • The ahistoric attempt...

    Amen and amen.

    There was quite a slew of sisters and brothers and fathers in the late XIXth through rather late into the early XXth centuries who churned out one after another of faux-Palestrina masses and motets which, though they likely caused a great stir and gaggle of admiration from their brethren and sistern, were not worth the proverbial paper on which they had been printed. When originality and the probe of genius have exhausted the musical vocabulary and forms of a given epoch, only amateurish dilletantes will continue to churn out fakes charading as period meisterstucke. Why would anyone perform an uninspired (no matter that its composer likely thought herself inspired) Palestrinesque mass or motet rather than one that was actually Palestrina's? But they did.

    Should the 'composers' of this genre be thought of as amongst 'the worst Renaissance commposers'? They certainly were not moderns in their day. They likely dreamed that they were composing Rennaisance music. It certainly was not the music of their own day. So, is their work bad Renaissance music? (???)
  • stulte
    Posts: 227
    I've yet to find a truly bad composer of music from the Renaissance era. People in our own day still compose in the Renaissance style. It's like a thing in some places for some people.

    https://youtu.be/zhd7CXU2_7M
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,772
    I used to be perplexed by the frequent consecutive and even parallel fifths in Renaissance keyboard writing: one finds a lot of it in Erbach, Hassler and especially egregious examples in Simon Lohet. One can learn to imagine fancy voice crossings or else just accept it as part of the instruments idiom.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,475
    Henry Purcell.

    There. Answered it for you.

    You're welcome!

    [edit: Oops. He's Baroque. Excuse my attempts at trolling.]
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • stulte
    Posts: 227
    [edit: Oops. He's Baroque. Excuse my attempts at trolling.]


    I was going to say Monteverdi and Gesualdo at first last night. But worst is a relative term.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,348
    Love Monteverdi and Gesualdo. Purcell is sometimes so archaic-sounding that he might as well been born a century earlier.

    It is tough to say who is the worst. Though I am sure that there are plenty of Reformation-era pieces that didn't make the grade.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,475
    It would be interesting to figure out the point at which musicology reached the point of desiring to start "documenting" the good as well as the bad. I mean, stuff that they realized at the time was sub-par, but still decided to keep it. (We know that it was happening as early as the Polka Mass craze began.)
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,070
    Monteverdi, who lived some 76 and a half years and whose enormous musical output began with the tail end of the Renaissance era but extended well into the early Baroque, does not (to my senses) compare with the core of the Renaissance as represented by Palestrina and others such as Byrd. On the other hand, Purcell is even later (especially stylistically) than Monteverdi and has to be considered to have flourished in the English middle Baroque era. It seems a folly to consider either of them as, somehow, Renaissance composers, good or bad.
  • Purcell, as Chuck says, was a full-blown baroque composer.
    He is worthy of the highest regard.
    It was he who brought England 'into the modern world' musically.
    His celebrated 'Voluntary for ye double organ' was surely
    modeled after a French basse et dessus de trompette.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Could someone explain how Claude Greenmountain "makes" any list as a "worst composer?"
  • stulte
    Posts: 227
    Could someone explain how Claude Greenmountain "makes" any list as a "worst composer?"


    2 words: seconda pratica
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,483
    It would be interesting to figure out the point at which musicology reached the point of desiring to start "documenting" the good as well as the bad.

    I'm going to guess the '60s, like everything else. Partly, it was the influence of ethnomusicology, leading people to look at how music (all music) works in an exotic culture (and Catholicism is certainly an exotic culture to your typical academic.). Add to that the general sentiment against "Judging" art (or anything really). Also, there's a kind of heroic historiography where the musicologist discovers the forgotten Great Composer, to the eternal benefit of Western Civ. Now, GOOD composers are rediscovered all the time; there's a lot to making a career, and some people didn't have that talent, or happenstance prevented it. But great ones seldom if ever are, because there are only a handful per generation, and it's usually obvious at the time who they are.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    2 words: seconda pratica

    Well now, that was some prepared dissonance!
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,475
    ]Purcell] is worthy of the highest regard.


    Meh. He's okay.

    Also, there's a kind of heroic historiography where the musicologist discovers the forgotten Great Composer


    Didn't Mendelssohn do something of that sort with regards to Bach? (My recollection is a little fuzzy.)
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,862
    I may never forgive Felix for that! It was a Protestant conspiracy.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,070
    Purcell:

    Hear my prayer, O Lord
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m374lZhMCk

    Remember not, Lord, our offences
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wyEyszZ_s8

    Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiDtnR79duk

    Sound the trumpet
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqmKfT8yIJ4