Historical Period: Renaissance
Born: c. 1532
Died: June 14, 1594
Major Works: Resonet in Laudibus, Psalmi Davidis Poenitentiales, 530 motets, more than 60 masses
What's Happening in History?
In every period of history there always men and women that "stand out." Orlando de Lassus (or Roland de Lassus) is one of the "big three" Renaissance composers, along with William Byrd and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.
Orlando de Lassus, born in the Habsburg Netherlands, is one of the major composers of this time period to use the polyphonic (Latin for "many voices") style, which consists of many voices singing together in harmony. Some people consider Lassus as one of the most versatile and prolific composers of his time. He wrote many masses for the Catholic church in this style, as well as secular madrigals, French chansons, and German lieder. He was a specialist in taking popular songs or works by other composers and putting them into his own music. His masses and other music for the church are hauntingly beautiful. Keep in mind that at this time it was dangerous to be Catholic in certain parts of Europe with the Reformation taking place, but di Lasso remained Catholic through all the religious tumult.