Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

If it were up to Calvinism, all the organs would have been destroyed during the Beeldenstorm, the outbreaks of destruction of religious images that occurred in Europe in the 16th century. Thanks to city governments, the organs were saved. Strictly speaking, Sweelinck was a servant for the city government as well as the city organist of Amsterdam. His organ and harpsichord music was also used during international negotiations, making his music arguably quite influential. 

Sweelinck's music should not be listened to with the same ears as one listens to Bach, Beethoven or Brahms. His instrumental works have its own completely unique expression, including temporal modulations, instead of tonal ones. His toccatas, variations and fantasies often start modestly, and gradually increase in movement. Especially his fantasies are masterpieces in this regard. Take for instance his Chromatic Fantasy. The first part uses the chromaticism by alternating whole and half steps. In the second section, the theme is enlarged to a complete cantus firmus, while the embellishments increase in speed. In the third section, the chromatic theme is increased in speed as well, after which the whole work is finished with a graceful bow. 

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