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Willaert Biography
Adrian Willaert was a famous, Flemish composer of the
Renaissance period. Read on to know more about his profile,
childhood, life and timeline.
Quick Facts
Famous as

Music Composer, Teacher, Founder of the

Venetian school



Born on

29 January 1904 AD

Zodiac Sign


Born in


Died on

07 December 1562 AD

Place of





Venetian School

Composed Mentre chel cor which is a motet,

Works &
was the founder of the Venetian school at San

Adrian Willaert was a famous Flemish composer who was

known for his polyphonic Franco-Flemish style. One of the most
influential composers of the Renaissance period, Adrian Willaert
was versatile and wrote all types of music in various extant
forms. Because of his endearing qualities and talent in musical
compositions, he was appointed as the maestro di Capella at
St. Marks and became one of the most influential musicians in
Europe, during the time of Palestrina. His motets, chansons,
madrigals and sacred music were well known and because of
his inventive styles and penchant for novelty, he was
considered a madrigal composer of the first rank. Willaert was
also the pioneer of the antiphonal style of music. This style was
adopted by several music composers and later, the polychoral
style evolved from this antiphonal form. Apart from writing
madrigals and chansons, Willaert was also renowned for his
sacred music and psalms. Apart from his compositions, Willaert
was also a notable teacher.
Childhood & Early Life
Very little information is available about the first two
decades of Willaerts life and there are no records to
reveal what he did before he started composing.
According to Willaerts student Gioseffo Zarlino who was a
famous music theorist, Willaert went to Paris to study law,
but studied music instead.
In Paris, he met his tutor Jean Mouton, the principal
composer of the Royal chapel in France.

It is also said that Josquin des Prez also studied with

Adrian Willaert.
Care e r
Around 1515, Willaert,made his first trip to Rome, and was
taken aback when he heard one of the papal choirs at
Rome singing one of his compositions. Probably the
composition was the six-part motet Verbum bonum et
T he choir members were also greatly surprised when they
came to know that, the song they were singing was not
composed by Josquin des Prez, but in fact, Adrian Willaert
was the composer of that song.
In July 1515, Willaert entered the service of Cardinal
Ippolito dEste of Ferrara and travelled around Europe
with him, including Hungary, where he resided from 1517
to 1519.
From 1522 to 1525, he served at the chapel of Duke
Alfonso after the death of its cardinal.
One of the most important events in his life was when he
became the maestro di cappella of St. Marks, Venice.
Willaert spent thirty-five years (1527-1562) at St. Markss,
and this was known to be the most fruitful period of his
musical career.
Many composers travelled from distant corners of the
world to study with him, and many even learnt composition
under him.
It was during this period, he began composing sacred
music, psalms and secular madrigals, and became a
madrigal composer of the first rank.
Adrian was a pioneer of the antiphonal style from which
the popular polychoral style developed.
At the main altar of St. Marks, there were two choir lofts
in the building, both of which provided an organ.
Willaert decided to divide the choral body into two







T his style became very popular with other music
composers, and soon almost all the composers adopted
this style. T his established Willaert as a musical virtuoso.
With a few compositional styles to his credit, Willaert
started a Venetian School, where he used to taught
Flemish techniques combined with Venetian compositional
It was during this period, Willaert developed the canzone
which is a popular secular song style and also worked on
his word-painting, a motet known as the Mentre chel cor
which became one of his most influential works.
Most of the Willaerts works comprised of canons and
He infused Russian folklore and nationalist music into
most of his works, which received some criticism.
Willaert was a distinguished teacher of his time and
among his disciples were prominent musician of the later
era, such as Rore, Constanzo Porta, Francesco Viola,
Gioseffo Zarlino and Gabrieli.
T hese composers were avid followers of Willaerts
teaching styles and compositions, which became the core
of the Venetian school and subsequently marked the
beginning of the Baroque era.
It was because of Willaerts teaching and the humbleness
of his students that the Venetian school flourished till the
18th century.
Major Works
As an efficient music composer, Willaert was the creator of
8 Masses, more than 150 motets and around 60 French
Moreover, his creation of more than 70 Italian madrigals,
over 50 hymns and psalms and several ricercares have
significant place in the world of music.
His famous works include: Mentre chel cor , Salmi

Spezzati and Chanzoni francoise a quarto sopra doi

Pe rsonal Life & Le gacy
Adrian Willaert passed away on December 7, 1562 in
Venice. Not much is known about his death.
Most of his works got lost over the years, and very few
have been retrieved by conservatories.