Hubert Waelrant, also known as Waelrand was a polyphonist of the Franco-Flemish School and active as a composer, teacher and publisher of music.
Details of Waelrant’s lineage are uncertain, but he could have been a member of a family of musicians and lawyers from Antwerp. A first document that states that he had worked in Antwerp can be found in the archive of the cathedral, he is mentioned as a singer from 1544 to 1545. In the mid 1550’s he worked as a teacher. In 1628, his student F. Sweerts noted in the Athenae Belgicae that Waelrant was an innovator because of the solmisation method he had developed. Waelrant started his work as a printer in the early 1550’s when he entered a collaboration agreement with Jan de Laet, a Flemish poet and prosaist.
In 1547, Waelrant founded a music school in Antwerp. He worked as a music teacher from 1553 to 1556. Information concerning his life after 1558 is rare but he likely resided in Antwerp where he worked as a composer and advised the tuning of the cathedral bells and published music. His grave can be found in the cathedral of Antwerp.
Composer and publisher
Waelrant wrote spiritual and profane vocal music and instrumental pieces. His portfolio includes motets, metric psalm arrangements, French chansons, Italian madrigals, Italian and Napolian profane songs of a frivolous nature, as would have been sung in Naples, and arrangements of Italian pieces for instruments such as the lute.
His motets are the most innovative part of his portfolio. Countless motets point to the clear influence of Orlandus Lassus and make use of chromatics, contrast in texture whilst pursuing understandability of the text. Waelrant also uses vignettes where he musically highlights individual words to enhance the expressiveness of the music.
Waelrant’s activities as a publisher and performer influence his style of composing. His writings include useful directions for the performance of the pieces. Very progressive for this time!
His arrangements of profane songs vary from frivolous to serious and make use of an arsenal of sharp counterpoints. Most of his music was published in Antwerp.
In 1594 he published Symphonia Angelica, a collection of Italian madrigals with besides works by his hand (Vorria Morire) also compositions by Pevernage, Verdonck, De Wert and others.
Vocal works (selection)
- Als ick u vinde, for four voices.
- Vorria morire, for four voices.
- Vorria morire, for six voices (from Symphonia Angelica, 1594)
- Musiciens qui chantez à plaisir, for four voices.
- D'amours me va, for five voices.
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