Lassus, Orlandus

, or, as he is called by the Italians, Orlando di Lasso, an eminent musician, was a native of Mons, in Hainault, born in 1520, and not only spent many years of his life in Italy, but had his musical education there, having been carried thither surreptitiously, when a child, on account of his fine voice. The historian Thuanus, who has given Orlando a place among the illustrious men of his time, tells us that it was a common practice for young singers to be forced away from their parents, and detained in the service of princes; and that Orlando was carried to Milan, Naples, and Sicily, by Ferdinand Gonzago. Afterwards, when he was grown up, and had probably lost his voice, he went to Rome, where he taught music during two years; at the expiration of which, he travelled through different parts of Italy and France with Julius Caesar Brancatius, and at length, returning to Flanders, resided many years at Antwerp, till being invited, by the duke of Bavaria, to Munich, he settled at that court, and married. He had afterwards an invitation, accompanied with the promise of great emoluments, from Charles IX. king of France, to take upon him the office of master and director of his band; an honour which he accepted, but was stopped on the road to Paris by the news of that monarach’s death. After this event he returned to Munich, whither he was recalled by William, the son and successor of his patron Albert, to the same office which he had held under his father. Orlando continued at this court till his death, in 1593, at upwards of seventy years of age. His reputation was so great, that it was said of him: “Hic ille Orlandus Lassus, qui recreat orbem.| As he lived to a considerable age, and never seems to have checked the fertility of his genius by indolence, his compositions exceed, in number, even those of Palestrina. There is a complete catalogue of them in Draudius, amounting to upwards of fifty different works, consisting of masses, magnificats, passiones, motets, and psalms: with Latin, Italian, German, and French songs, printed in Italy, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. He excelled in modulation, of which he gave many new specimens, and was a great master of harmony. 1


Burney’s Hist. of Music, and in Rees’s Cyclopædia.