Heinrich Isaac is noted as a central figure in late 15th and early 16th century musical development. He was one of three leading composers of the Franco Flemish or Netherlandish School with Jakob Obrecht and Josquin Des Prez. Although Josquin Des Prez was undoubtedly the major figure of the middle renaissance and is most often mentioned before Heinrich Isaac, Isaac is one of several that also deserve recognition.
Heinrich was born around ten years after Josquin in 1450-1455. Historians are somewhat certain he was born in Flemish Brabant, a province of Flanders#. Very little is recorded of Heinrich’s early life. It is believed that he was educated in the same area, the Low Countries, due to its excellent standards in musical education. Isaac is also noted to have been a pupil of the Florentine organist Antonio Squarcialupi. It is supposed that Heinrich had begun composing music by 1470. All of this is very hard to establish; the first documented reference to Heinrich Isaac is dated September 15, 1484, thirty or so years after his estimated birth. This document comes from Innsbruck, southwest Austria and refers to Heinrich as a hired member of a royal choir owned by Duke Sigismund of the House of Hapsburgs.
The following year Heinirch traveled to Florence. Multiple documents show that Isaac acquired a position in 1485 as a designated singer at the church Santa Maria del Fiore, commonly known as the Duomo. Heinrich Isaac was known for his close association with the Medici family. It is suspected that Lorenzo de’ Medici was responsible for Isaac’s move from Innsbruck. Heinrich maintained close ties with the family throughout his entire life. He is said to have worked for the Medicis as an organist and a musical teacher however recent findings of documentation explain that “the Medici’s organist” was a title held by another Isaac. Isaac did work with the family as a teacher and choir director.
While in Florence Isaac composed a great deal of music including...
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