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Jan Jacob Van Eyck

Biography

Jacob van Eyck was a blind Dutch carillonist, recorder player, and composer. Though he is known today largely for his collection of recorder solos, Der Fluyten Lust-hof, his contributions to the art of carillon-making and playing were substantial.

Van Eyck spent his early years at Heusden in southern Holland before being appointed carillonist in Utrecht in 1625, and had several pupils. He was the first to discover the link between
Read more the overtone structure and the shape of the bell. In partnership with the famous bellfounders, the Hemony brothers, he worked out the dimensions for the "pure" bell, which spread throughout Europe and became the standard carillon bells. His theory is still used by bellfounders today. Van Eyck's bells have a minor overtone series causing the characteristic melancholy sound of a well-tuned carillon.

In addition to his carillon duties, the cathedral paid Van Eyck an additional salary to wander the grounds of Utrecht cathedral and entertain the passers-by with songs on his recorder. He (presumably consequently) became a skilled improviser on a theme and three collections of his variations for descant recorder were published: Euterpe and the two parts of Der Fluyten Lust-hof (or "The Flute's Pleasure-Garden"). Der Fluyten Lust-hof contains 144 sets of variations on a variety of melodies popular in Renaissance Holland. One of the best known is the variation on Dowland's Pavane Lacrymae. Although Van Eyck wrote them for amateur musicians, the different sets commonly increase in technical difficulty towards the end. Some of them are very difficult indeed. This is one of the largest Renaissance collections of solo recorder music. It is particularly unusual as the instrument used is the less popular descant recorder rather than the more common alto. Read less

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