Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Born: 1562 · Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: Oct 16, 1621 · Amsterdam, Netherlands
Once described as the “Orpheus of Amsterdam,” Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) is generally acknowledged as the greatest Dutch composer of his era. For 44 of his 59 years of life, he served as organist at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. Although Sweelinck rarely left Amsterdam (and never traveled farther than Antwerp), during his lifetime his fame as an organist and composer of vocal and keyboard music was widespread. He was highly sought after as a teacher, attracting a large number of students from Germany, and thus he exerted a strong influence on the Dutch and North German organ schools and, through them, on J.S. Bach.
Sweelinck’s keyboard compositions were strongly influenced by the English school of keyboardists, but they also exhibit a stricter adherence to part writing that clearly delineates individual voice lines. This latter trait makes a number of his keyboard pieces highly suitable for arrangement for instrumental ensemble.