Born: 508; Pressburg, Slovakia
Died: February 2, 1563; Nuremberg, Germany
Throughout music history, fathers and sons have rarely proved to be the equals of one another -- more often, time reveals that one is really a notably superior musician. C.P.E. Bach may indeed have been more admired than his father during his lifetime, but there are few today who would place him above his father. There are hundreds other examples. But the father-son duo of sixteenth-century German lutenists Hans and Melchior Neusidler are, so farRead more as most scholars are concerned, exceptions to this rule of thumb -- neither is clearly the superior, and each in his own way was a dominant force in the music scene of his day. If a more honored place in the texts of music history has to be given to one or the other of them, however, it surely must be Hans, for having established a dynasty that lasted several generations and for having brought lute playing and lute composition to a peak of craftsmanship that was by all accounts hitherto unknown in Germany.
Hans Neusidler was born in Pressburg (now Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia), a city which witnessed many rulers and struggles throughout history, sometime around 1508. Almost nothing is known of his early life and schooling; he remains firmly lost in un-history until he moved to Nuremburg in his early twenties. He soon married, bought a small but comfortable estate, and began to insinuate himself into the musical life of the town. He sired seventeen children by two wives, and many of them went on to fine careers in their father's field.
Hans Neusidler published eight volumes of lute music during the 1530s and 1540s, volumes filled both with original dances and miscellaneous pieces and with transcriptions of other composers' music (popular madrigals and motets were common fodder for Renaissance instrumental composers). Attached to these volumes, all of which are of course in tablature notation, is an illuminating written lesson on lute playing as practiced by Hans. Read less
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