Guillaume de Machaut - There is little information about the music of the Middle Ages; much of the music during this period did not survive. However, Machaut made copies of his music, making him one of the early composers whose works has been preserved. He wrote sacred and secular music. Sacred vocal music during the Middle Ages was mostly monophonic. Machaut’s Notre Dame Mass was innovative because it is the first polyphonic setting of the mass ordinary by a single composer. He introduced complex rhythms and harmonies. Machaut was also one of the composers who represented the Ars Nova period. He became a well-respected composer, not only in France, but also in other parts of Europe. He was one of the most important composers of the Middle Ages. He influenced other composers (and even poets) that followed. The fact that his Notre Dame Mass is still being appreciated to this day is testament to how great his contribution to music is.
Josquin Desprez - Desprez became one of the most important composers of the Renaissance. His music was widely published and appreciated in Europe. He wrote both sacred and secular music, focusing more on motets of which he wrote over a hundred. He utilized what is known as "imitative counterpoint," wherein each voice part enters successively using the same note patterns. Josquin’s Ave Maria…virgo serena is sung a cappella by a choir of men and women vocalists. It is a motet in four parts. The piece begins with the women singing the first line and then the three other voices join in succession using imitation. There is a rise and fall of pitches. There is also a change in dynamics and meter. Towards the end of the piece, all the voices sing in unison. Ave Maria…virgo serena is a beautiful example of sacred choral music.
Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel - Bach and Handel are both important figures of the late Baroque period. Both were born in Germany in the same year barely a month apart. However, if Bach’s father was very supportive of his son’s love for music, Handel’s father was not nearly as encouraging. Later on though, Handel’s father allowed him to pursue music. Both composers were said to be influenced by the works of Dietrich Buxtehude when they were younger. Bach and Handel both underwent cataract operations performed by an eye surgeon named John Taylor. Both composers left large bodies of work that is still much appreciated to this day. They both wrote suites, concerto grosso, etc. and featured instruments like the recorder in some of their works. Bach composed thousands of works in various forms except the opera. Handel, on the other hand, is known for his oratorios and operas.
Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre - She was born 20 years ahead of Bach and Handel in France. During the Baroque period, positions in church and court orchestras, whether as music directors or musicians, were dominated by male composers and instrumentalists. However, Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre succeeded in becoming a well-respected composer despite the existing hindrances of her time. She became one of the most notable female French composers and harpsichordist of the Baroque period. She is also known as the first female composer to write an opera. She is also hailed as the first French woman to publish a book of harpsichord pieces. She left behind several works in various forms such as sonatas, suites and cantatas. Some of her works, such as a ballad titled "Les jeux à l’honneur de la victoire," has been lost. She was able to rise above the existing discriminations of her time and was able to make a lasting mark in history.