Emanuel Adriaenssen

Biography

Born: 1554; Antwerp, Belgium   Died: February 27, 1604; Antwerp, Belgium  
When Emanuel (or Hadrianus) Adriaenssen was born in mid-sixteenth century Antwerp, lute music had already been central to the city's musical culture for several decades. But Adriaenssen would be the talent to put the mercantile city's lute players on an international map. He absorbed aspects of the Italian ornamental style while studying music in Rome starting in 1574; he propagated his own playing style in a lifetime of public performances, in Read more three large pedagogical printed collections of music, and above all, through a lifetime of teaching. Adriaenssen founded a school in Antwerp with the help of his brother Gysbrecht, and may have taught many of the next generation of Antwerp lutenists. Judging by the level of ornamentation with which Adriaenssen encrusts his surviving lute compositions, the man must have been a powerful player. The charge has even been leveled against him (in historical hindsight) that his ornamentation tends to overwhelm his musicality. In his time, however, the best of Antwerp society apparently delighted in his skill.

It was his teaching, however, that would cement Adriaenssen's position in music history. Not only did he maintain students (apparently including future stars such as Jaochim van den Hove) who would proceed to their own fame, his printed collections of "Practical Music" for the lute must have been highly influential. Not only did these books include large collections of music in several styles and levels of difficulty (as well as music for two, three, and even four lutes playing simultaneously), they also contained tables for the teaching of tablature notation. Among the important international figures known to have owned copies of his printed music were astronomer Konstantin Huygens, the music-loving King of Portugal, and Cardinal Mazarin of France. Interestingly, three of Emanuel's children went into painting instead of music -- the Dutch master Alexander Adriaenssen and his two brothers Vincent and Niclaes. Read less