Jan Pieterszon Sweelinck

1562-1621. Dutch composer. From about 1580 until his death he was organist of the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. It is not clear that he ever went to Italy, but he was certainly greatly influenced by Zarlino, the great Italian theorist, for he left a theoretical work based on the Venetian's work. Sweelinck was much influenced by the English keyboard masters such as John Bull. In turn he was the chief figure behind the N German school of organists, a number of whom studied with him-notably Scheidt. He wrote many fine motets with Latin text, which show a growing sense for major and minor tonality rather than the older modes. Best known is his brilliant setting of the popular Christmas text “Hodie Christus natus est,” a perennial favorite with cappella choirs. Some of his finest work is in his four volumes of motetlike settings of the Genevan Psalms, employing the original French texts. In view of the Calvinistic disapproval of polyphonic music, these were written not for church but for a collegium musicum of Dutch musical amateurs. Sweelinck was the last great composer to use extensively the Genevan Psalms.