Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

Waelrant [Waelrand], Hubert [Huberto] [Waelrandus, Hubertus]

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Waelrant [Waelrand], Hubert [Huberto] [Waelrandus, Hubertus]

(b c1517; d Antwerp, 19 Nov 1595). Flemish composer, music editor, singer and teacher. He was an innovator among mid-16th-century Flemish composers, and his style bridges the period between that of Gombert and the mature Lassus. His works are characterized by careful attention to the relationship between text and music, reflecting the current humanistic outlook, and by chromatic harmony and inventiveness in the use of dissonances.

1. Life.

2. Waelrant as editor.

3. Works.




Waelrant, Hubert

1. Life.

Waelrant’s name appears with numerous spellings, including Waelrans, Waelramst, Waelranck, Waralt and Vuaelrant, but in his own publications he consistently used the forms Waelrant, Waelrand or Waelrandus. His life and activities were centred on Antwerp, but much confusion arises from the fact that there were several men with the same name in the city at the time, including at least two lawyers named Hubertus Waelrant: a father and son (c1521–74 and c1546–1621). Persoons (1979, p.147) argued the existence of a third lawyer with this name; Spiessens (1995) maintains that this is not a separate man but is the elder of the father and son pair. The composer, some of whose children practised law, may have been related to the lawyers of this name. He was married at least three times: to Maria Loochenborch (c1547), with whom he had ten children, to Anna Ablyt (or Van Covelen, 28 July 1564) and to Johanna Cleerhaghen on 3 May 1581. Spiessens posits a fourth wife, Maeyken Corecopers, married to the composer on 23 July 1551 (1995, p.53). Three of the composer’s sons, Raymond, Peter and Paul, had careers as organists.

It is unclear where Waelrant received his musical training, although it has frequently been suggested that he studied in Italy, a suggestion supported by his close personal association with the Italian patron B.D. Inurea and by his preference for a progressive style in his madrigals. However, the claim that he studied with Willaert in Venice seems to have been based on a misreading, by Fétis and Kiesewetter, of Berardi and de Arteaga.

Early in his career Waelrant was active as a singer and teacher. The records of Antwerp Cathedral and the St Jacobskerk indicate that in 1544–5 he received payments as a tenor, and rent contracts show that from 1553 to 1556 he taught music in a school managed by his landlord, Gregorius de Coninck. Traditionally he has been credited with the extension of the hexachord to an octave system by the addition of the two syllables ni and ba (later altered to si and o), and with the invention of a new seven-syllable solmization system called bocedization (or voces belgicae). Sweerts, who claimed to have been his pupil, was the first to link him with the latter; other reports of the time attributed its invention to other musicians (see Benndorf, 1894; Lange, 1899–1900; and Lowinsky, 1946).

From about 1554 (possibly 1552) until 1558 Waelrant was associated with the printer jean de Laet (Weaver, 1995, pp.113–17). The dedications to their volumes indicate that Waelrant served as the publisher and bookseller, caring for finances, selection of repertory and, most likely, sales. Laet, as owner and printer, saw to the purchase of paper, layout, type-setting, operation of the press and proof reading. In two books (15566 and 15567) Waelrant called himself ‘typographus’, suggesting that he also took on some aspects of the role of printer. 16 products of this joint venture are extant. The type is notable for its elegant and simple face, as well as for its unique sharp sign on a space and for the unusual form of the G clef (see illustration).

Almost nothing is known of Waelrant after 1558 apart from his publications, although the Antwerp Cathedral archives show that he served as a consultant for the tuning of three new bells acquired in 1563. A number of documents mark his participation in family events, including the weddings of his daughter Maria, in 1571, and his son Raymond, in 1574. In 1583–4, along with Trehou, Pevernage and Verdonck, Waelrant composed music to poems from Jan Van der Noot’s Lofsang van Braband (1580, the settings are lost). In 1585 he served as the editor for Phalèse and Bellère’s Symphonia angelica (RISM 158519), a highly successful collection of four- to six-voice madrigals (a revision of 159017 went through three more editions). Five of the 55 madrigals are by Waelrant himself. In the last years of his life Waelrant fell into debt; according to Sweerts, he died on 19 November 1595 at the age of 78, and was buried in front of the choir in the Church of our Lady on 22 November.

Certain aspects of Waelrant’s life and work suggest that he entertained Protestant sympathies. Becker pointed to the vernacular psalms and stressed that several of his volumes were confiscated by the Catholic authorities at Mons and Courtrai in 1568. Lowinsky (1946 and 1972) argued that in view of his preference for New Testament texts dealing with Christ’s life and teachings (see below), he may have been associated with the Anabaptists. Many of his texts certainly do seem to be in agreement with certain Protestant movements, in their emphasis on personal piety and morality grounded in the teachings of the life of Christ. But the multifarious theologies in the Netherlands in his time create difficulties in identifying a particular heresy, such as Anabaptism, Calvinism or some form of spiritualism, with the composer. Furthermore, a legal document of 1596 states that the Waelrants were Catholics (Persoons, 1979 and Weaver, 1995, pp.338–40).

Waelrant, Hubert

2. Waelrant as editor.

Waelrant and Laet initiated their printing venture with a series of motets that eventually extended to eight volumes; five anthologies consist of five- and six-part works (RISM 15546, 15556, 15557, 15566, 15567), one is devoted entirely to Waelrant’s works for five and six voices, and the other two are anthologies of four-part works (15564, 15565). Waelrant’s own music did not appear in this series until the fourth and fifth volumes, where he is represented by one and two motets respectively. Other composers presented in these anthologies include Crecquillon and Clemens non Papa; the remaining composers are mostly minor contemporaries from the Franco-Flemish region. In 1555 Waelrant and Laet published their first editions of French music: Jean Louys’s five-part settings of 50 psalms, in three volumes. They followed these with the Jardin musical, a collection of sacred and secular music to French texts in four volumes, one for three voices (RISM 155522) and three for four (155617⊃–;19). These include 14 of Waelrant’s own works, eight of which are settings of psalm texts by Marot. The other three composers well represented in these books are Jean Caulery, Clemens and Crecquillon. The last extant publications by Waelrant and Laet (1558) are wholly devoted to five-part Italian madrigals, canzoni francesi and five- and six-voice motets, all by Waelrant himself.

The repertory that Waelrant and Laet published is much smaller than those of Susato and Phalèse. It is distinguished by its choice of progressive music, by the quality of the type used and by the care that Waelrant took over text underlay and musica ficta. For example, in his edition of Crecquillon’s Sancte Maria virgo he altered the original text placement so that speech and musical accents would be coordinated better.

Waelrant, Hubert

3. Works.

Waelrant’s styles as editor and composer are closely related. His experience as a singer and teacher made him highly sensitive to the needs of the performer. An important feature of his editorial technique was his approach to text underlay. Wherever possible, he divided words into syllables and aligned them with the correct notes; he employed ligatures to clarify text setting and avoided the use of numerous shorthand iterum signs, often preferring to repeat the text in full. He was also explicit in his use of accidentals, which were applied in his own works to create colourful chords, many for the purposes of text expression. His plaintive setting of the scene from the story of Lazarus, Pater Abraham (Liber sextus), for example, makes extensive use of accidentals to create cross-relationships and dissonances as well as to realize for the performer the principles of musica ficta. His application of accidentals in his role as editor of the works of others was more cautious, revealing his respect of a composer’s personal style.

Interestingly, Waelrant’s sacred chansons often bear features of the note nere madrigal in their textures. In his setting of Donne secours, black notes feature in imitative textures or in homophonic semiminim pairs, with repeated chordal harmonies that create parlando rhythmic effects. The French texts with serious moods match the serious Italian compositions in their style; on the other hand, amusing texts, such as Un jour passé, have more lively rhythms and more passages in chordal style. In Moys amourex short four-note rhythmic units, repeated numerous times without harmonic change, result in a liveliness not present in the madrigals (see Slenk, 1965).

In the nine madrigals of the Primo libro Waelrant combined Netherlandish polyphonic techniques with typical madrigal devices, such as speech-like rhythms (in short imitative phrases, in homophony and in textures that mix the two) and chromatic harmonies (augmented triads, false relationships and strong dissonances), to emphasize words like ‘pain’ and ‘grief’. In the second parte of Ferma speranz’e fe pur, for example, cross-relations and unexpected chords, built on chromatic-shifting bass lines, illustrate the text ‘Grave travagli’ e afflitta gelosia’. To add further interest, Waelrant shifts between strict and free contrapuntal textures.

Waelrant, Hubert



[15] Sacrarum cantionum … liber sextus, 5, 6vv (Antwerp, ?1558); ed. in Weaver (1971), 5 ed. in Piel

11 motets (1 by ?Willaert), 3–6vv, 15535, 15543, 155522, 15564, 15565, 15566, 15567; ed. in Weaver (1971), 3 ed. F. Commer, Collectio operum musicorum batavorum saeculi XVI, i (Berlin, 1844), 2 ed. in Piel, 1 ed. in SCC, ii (1992)

9 motets, 4–8vv (all inc.), D-Rp, I-Bc, S-Sk, SI-Ln, Yu-Lu

chansons spirituelles

Psalm (Marot), in Il primo libro de madrigali et canzoni francezi, 5vv (Antwerp, 1558), ed. in RRMR, lxxxviii (1991) [also see below]

8 psalms (Marot), 3, 4vv, 155522, 155618, 155619; 1 ed. in Becker, 3 ed. in Slenk (1965), 8 ed. in SCC, ii (1992)


Il primo libro de madrigali et [11] canzoni francezi, 5vv (Antwerp, 1558), ed. in RRMR, lxxxviii (1991) [incl. sacred and other secular works]

20 chansons (2 with sacred 2p.), 3, 4, 6vv, 155212, 155213, 155214, 155324, 155422, 155522, 155619, 15754, 15895; 1 ed. in EMDC, I/iii (1921), 1825ff, and in W.B. Squire, Ausgewählte Madrigale und mehrstimmige Gesänge berühmter Meister des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts (Leipzig, 1903–13), 6 ed. in Labelle (1981); 1 in Bernstein (1985); 5 in SCC, ii (1992); 1 in Weaver (1995)


6 chansons, 4, 5vv, GB-WCc, I-Bc, S-Sk


Il primo libro de [9] madrigali et canzoni francezi, 5vv (Antwerp, 1558), ed. in RRMR, lxxxviii (1991) [incl. sacred and other secular works]

6 madrigals, 6vv, 156116/R1970, 158519

1 Dutch madrigal, 5vv, 1561, B-Br (attrib. Waelrant in A. Goovaerts: Liederen en andere gedichten gemaakt ter gelegenheid van het landjuweel van Antwerpen in 1561 (Antwerp, 1892), ed. in Weaver (1995), 336–8; 3 madrigals, 4, 6vv, I-Bc (inc.)


Le [30] canzon napolitane, 4vv (Venice, 1565) (inc.)

1 napolitana, 4vv, 158519; ed. R. van Maldeghem, Trésor musical, i (Brussels, 1865/R), 1 ed. in Weaver (1995)

34 napolitane, 4vv, GB-WCc (incl. 17 from 1565 edn.), 2 ed. in Weaver


2 madrigals, 2 canzonas, 158412, 16005a (intabulations); 1 napolitana ed. in MMBel, x (1966); 1 napolitana ed. in Noske

Waelrant, Hubert





Vander StraetenMPB

F. Sweerts: Athenae belgicae (Antwerp, 1628)

R.G. Kiesewetter and F.J. Fétis: Verhandelingen over de vraag: Welke verdiensten hebben zich de Nederlanders vooral in de 14e, 15e en 16e eeuw in het vak der toonkunst verworven (Amsterdam, 1829) [in Ger. and Fr.]

G. Becker: Hubert Waelrant et ses psaumes (Paris, 1881)

A. Goovaerts: Liederen en andere gedichten gemaakt ter gelegenheid van het Landjuweel van Antwerpen in 1561 (Antwerp, 1892)

K. Benndorf: ‘Sethus Calvisius als Musiktheoretiker’, VMw, x (1894), 411–70, esp. 432

A. Sandberger: ‘Hubert Waelrant’, AdB, xl (1896), 467–71

G. Lange: ‘Zur Geschichte der Solmisation’, SIMG, i (1899–1900), 535–622

L. Torchi: ‘I monumenti dell’antica musica francese a Bologna’, RMI, xiii (1906), 451–505, 575–615

E. Lowinsky: ‘Zur Frage der Deklamationsrhythmik in der a-cappella-Musik des 16. Jahrhunderts’, AcM, vii (1935), 62–7

E. Lowinsky: ‘Das Antwerpener Motettenbuch Orlando di Lasso’s und seine Beziehungen zum Motettenschaffen der niederländischen Zeitgenossen’, TVNM, xiv/3 (1935), 185–229; xv/1 (1936), 1–46; xv/2 (1937), 194–205; also pubd separately (The Hague, 1937); Eng. trans. in Music in the Culture of the Renaissance and Other Essays, ed. B.J. Blackburn (Chicago and London, 1989), i, 385–431

I. Bogaert: ‘De Waelrant’s te Antwerpen: biographische bijzonderheden over de drie Huibrecht’s en Raymond Waelrant’, Hommage à Charles van den Borren, ed. S. Clerx and A. vander Linden (Antwerp, 1945), 72–83

E.E. Lowinsky: Secret Chromatic Art in the Netherlands Motet (New York, 1946/R)

M. van Crevel: ‘Secret Chromatic Art in the Netherlands Motet?’, TVNM, xvi/4 (1946), 253–304

L. Schrade: ‘A Secret Chromatic Art’, JRBM, i (1946–7), 159–67

F. Noske: ‘Remarques sur les luthistes des Pays-Bas (1580–1620)’, Le luth et sa musique: Neuilly-sur-Seine 1957, 179–92

H.J. Slenk: The Huguenot Psalter in the Low Countries: a Study of its Monophonic and Polyphonic Manifestations in the Sixteenth Century (diss., Ohio State U., 1965)

H. Slenk: ‘The Music School of Hubert Waelrant’, JAMS, xxi (1968), 157–67

W. Piel: Studien zum Leben und Schaffen Hubert Waelrants unter besonderer Berücksichtigung seiner Motetten (Marburg, 1969)

A. Dunning: Die Staatsmotetten, 1480–1555 (Utrecht, 1970)

R.L. Weaver: The Motets of Hubert Waelrant (c.1517–1585) (diss., Syracuse U., 1971)

E.E. Lowinsky: ‘Secret Chromatic Art Re-Examined’, Perspectives in Musicology, ed. B.S. Brook, E.O.D. Downes and S. Van Solkema (New York, 1972), 91–135

C.S. Adams: The Three-Part Chanson during the Sixteenth Century: Changes in its Style and Importance (diss., U. of Pennsylvania, 1974)

S. Bain: Music Printing in the Low Countries in the Sixteenth Century (diss., Cambridge U., 1974)

A. Rouzet: Dictionnaire des imprimeurs, libraires et éditeurs des XVe et XVIe siècles dans les limites géographiques de la Belgique actuelle (Nieuwkoop, 1975), 115

J. Vander Noot: De ‘Poeticsche Werken’ van Jonker Jan van der Noot: Analytisch bibliografie en tekstuitgave met inleiding en verklarende aantekeningen, ed. W. Waterschoot (Ghent, 1975)

H. Vanhulst: ‘Les éditions de musique polyphonique et les traités musicaux mentionnés dans les inventaires dressés en 1569 dans les Pays-Bas espagnols sur ordre du Duc d’Albe’, RBM, xxx (1977), 60–71

R.L. Weaver: ‘Waelrant and Anabaptism: an Interdisciplinary Problem Reconsidered’, Mennonite Quarterly Review, lii (1978), 39–57

G. Persoons: ‘De genealogie van de Antwerpse toonkundige Hubertus Waelrant (1517–1595): Zijn biografische data en ‘Voces Belgicae’, De Gulden Passer, lvii (1979), 142–63

G. Persoons: De orgels en de organisten van de Onze Lieve Vrouwkerke te Antwerpen van 1500 tot 1650 (Brussels, 1981), 76–87

N. Labelle: Les Différents styles de la musique religieuse en France: Le psaume de 1553 à 1572 (Henryville, PA, 1981)

I. Fenlon: ‘An Imperial Repertory for Charles V’, Studi musicali, xiii (1984), 236–7

K.K. Forney: ‘Antwerp's Role in the Reception and Dissemination of the Madrigal in the North’, IMSCR Bologna 1987, i, 239–53

H. Vanhulst: ‘Le Contrat d'apprentissage conclu en 1562 entre Pierre Phalèse et Jean Laet’, From Ciconia to Sweelinck donum natalicium Willem Elders, ed. A. Clement and E. Jas (Amsterdam, 1994), 255–9

R. Weaver: A Descriptive Bibliographical Catalog of the Music Printed by Hubert Waelrant and Jan de Laet (Warren, MI, 1995)

G. Spiessens: ‘Een nieuwe kijk op componist Hubert Waelrant’, Musica Antiqua, xii (1995), 52–64

R. Weaver: Waelrant and Laet: Music Publishers in Antwerp's Golden Age (Warren, MI, 1995)

S. Bain: ‘The Typography of the Firm of Hubert Waelrant and Jean De Laet’, Yearbook of the Alamire Foundation, ii (1997), 253–68

J. Bernstein: ‘The Transmission of the Netherlandish and Venetian Music Publications in the Mid-16th Century’, ibid., 395–404

S. Boorman: ‘The Music Publisher's View of his Public's Abilities and Taste: Venice and Antwerp’, ibid., 405–29

J.A. Owens: ‘Waelrant and Bocedization: Reflections on Solmization Reform’, ibid., ii (1997), 377–94

J.A. Owens: Composers at Work: the Craft of Musical Composition: 1450–1600 (New York, 1997)

R.L. Weaver: ‘Waelrant's Working Relationship with Jan De Laet, as Given in the Prefaces to their Partbooks’, Yearbook of the Alamire foundation, ii (1997), 237–52

T.M. McTaggart: Hubert Waelrant’s ‘Jardin Musical’ (Antwerp 1556) and the Franco-Flemish Chanson (diss., U. of Chicago, 1998)

R.L. Weaver: Additions and Corrections to a Descriptive Catalog of the Music Printed by Hubert Waelrant and Jan de Laet (Warren, MI, 1998)

R.L. Weaver: Additions and Corrections to Waelrant and Laet: Music Publishers in Antwerp’s Golden Age (Warren, MI, 1998)

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