Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck [Swelinck, Zwelinck, Sweeling, Sweelingh, Sweling, Swelingh]


Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

Composer. The elder son of Peter Swybbertszdon and Elske Sweeling, he adopted his mother's family name. The assertion that he studied in Venice with Zarlino is not supported by surviving evidence. His only known teachers besides his father were Jacob Buyck, pastor at the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, and Jan Willemszoon Lossy, a countertenor and shawm player at Haarlem, who taught him not organ but composition. SweelinckBy 1580, and possibly as early as 1577, he was organist at the Oude Kerk; his duties there were probably to provide an hour of music twice daily in the church. He became famous for his brilliant improvisations at the organ and harpsichord. From this time onward he left Amsterdam only to inspect new organs and advise on repairs and restorations. As a teacher Sweelinck was influential and sought after, and his pupils were among the most highly regarded musicians of the time; they included Andreas Düben, Peter Hasse, Samuel and Gottfried Scheidt, Paulus Siefert, Ulrich Cernitz, Jacob Praetorius, and Heinrich Scheidemann , founders of the so-called north German organ school of the 17th century. Sweelinck's 254 vocal works, which were all printed, include thirty-three chansons, nineteen madrigals, thirty-nine motets ( Cantiones sacrae, 1619), and 153 Psalm settings. His 70 keyboard works consist mainly of fantasias ( Fantasia chromatica ), echo fantasias, toccatas, and variations.

Further reading:

Curtis, Alan. Sweelincks's Keyboard Music. London: Oxford University Press, 1969.
Dirksen, Pieter. The Keyboard Music of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Its Style, Significance, and Influence. USA: Music Library Association, 1998.
Noske, Frits. Sweelinck. London: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Richolson, Edna Sollitt. Dufay to Sweelinck. New York: Ives Washburn Publishers, 1933.

A Partial Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck Discography  |  IV E: 16th Century Music for Organ and Lute