The musical life of Constantijn Huygens, part 2

sun 22 nov 2015
Theme: Early Music

Documento on Monday 23 November (19.00-20.00 CET) features part 2 of our series on the musical life of Constantijn Huygens, the 17th century Dutch ‘uomo universalis.


Earlier this year, Documento broadcast two programmes about Samuel Pepys, a man from the higher echelons of society in 17th century London, who kept a diary of all his experiences including his musical activities. This diary provides us with a unique insight into the life of those times.


There was also a similar ‘uomo universalis’ in the Netherlands: Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687), a contemporary of Pepys. Huygens was similar to Pepys in many ways, he was also well educated and musically active but, as far as we know, they never met even though they moved in the same circles.

Huygens may be well-known as a musician but that does not mean that it is no longer of interest to listen to his music.


Part 2 of the musical life of Constantijn Huygens includes:

  • A poem about his musical education and the instruments that he played.
  • Some of his musical inspirations: a French air with a lute accompaniment from the period 1620-1640 and an Italian solo madrigal with a continuo accompaniment. His psalms were also based on examples of solo motets.
  • We knew that Huygens wrote more than 800 pieces of music for five different instruments but that only his Pathodian songs (39 in total) have survived. However, recently, two other songs have also been recently discovered.
  • Huygens also wrote a number of poems concerning the rules to which a composition should conform, rules that he followed in his own compositions.


Broadcasts part 2:

  • Monday 23 November 2015, 19.00 – 20.00 CET
  • Tuesday 1 December 2015, 14.00 – 15.00 CET
  • Wednesday 2 December 2015, 11.00 – 12.00 CET


Click here for the playlist