Donald Macleod focuses on Lassus's abduction by kidnappers who coveted his singing voice.
A cosmopolitan composer who became so famous he was known as "The divine Orlando", this week Donald Macleod surveys the life and music of Orlande de Lassus.
Born in Mons, around 1532, Lassus first came to public attention when singing at the local church of St. Nicholas. His voice was said to be so beautiful that he was abducted a number of times, and ended up in the service of the Viceroy of Sicily. After he turned eighteen Lassus, took a job in Naples and then went on to become Director of Music at St. John Lateran in Rome. Lassus remained in Rome for a short period, before making his way to Antwerp where he instigated the first publication of his music. His reputation grew and he was soon offered a job in Munich, at the Court of Duke Albrecht V. Lassus remained there for over thirty years where musical life at court flourished, and his name spread all over Europe. He was invited to compose music for the coronation of the King of Bohemia and he also received honours from the Habsburg Emperor Maximilian II, and the Pope. His fame was such that the King of France even tried to poach Lassus for his own court. Lassus prolifically composed in almost every genre of music, and was a master of every style he touched.
Sacred music was important to Lassus, and he composed over forty settings of the Mass, including his Missa Susanne un jour, which was based on one of his own songs. After working in Rome, the young composer toured England, Paris, and then settled in Antwerp for a few years, where he gave music lessons to the nobility. It was in Antwerp that he published his first compositions, in 1555, including the motet Audi dulcis amica. His music was well received and, in the same year, he also published a set of madrigals in Venice, which included Solo e pensoso, and Mia benigna fortuna.
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