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#1594911 - 01/10/11 06:31 PM What happened to French piano music in the 19th century?
jeffreyjones Offline
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It just dawned on me that even though Paris was the hotbed of high culture, there were no major French composers for the piano from its invention until the 1860s. Auric and Offenbach focused mainly on the opera, Berlioz on symphonic works. Alkan was active, of course, but no one at the time knew he was alive. Then Saint-Saëns came onto the scene, whose concertos are wonderful, but whose solo music is fairly inconsequential - and then we have his student Gabriel Fauré in the 1880s, who really ushered in a uniquely Gallic style.

What could possibly have happened in Paris to cause such a long drought? We're talking about almost a century in which keyboard music was of no concern. The French seem to have hardly participated in the Classical or Romantic periods. At least the Italians had Clementi.

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#1594919 - 01/10/11 06:48 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: jeffreyjones]
dolce sfogato Offline
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Auric was 20th century, Offenbach was German, Liszt and Chopin, although Polish and Austro-Hungarian, ruled the place, and the overall focus was on opera, but of a certain let's say: not so weighty, genre, that even Wagner, German, wasn't capable of conquering, so it was indeed Fauré, after some futile efforts of his teacher S.-S. and the ever so secretive Alkan, who could be called the first real pianocomposer of Gallic descent and importance, and he opened the floodgates, thanks to him for ever, merci beaucoup pour toujours!
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#1594955 - 01/10/11 07:58 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: jeffreyjones]
Mark_C Offline
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Great question. I've wondered a bit too, and have no clue about a possible answer.
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#1594999 - 01/10/11 09:15 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: jeffreyjones]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8243
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
At least the Italians had Clementi.


No, they didn't - the English did.

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#1595008 - 01/10/11 09:34 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: jeffreyjones]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6722
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Here's a listing of French composers who lived during the Classical and early Romantic eras - some of whom "may" have written music for piano. Not too many household names here. One can understand why Chopin and Liszt were such influential figures in the Paris musical scene in the 1830s and 40s.

Of course, there were French composers of keyboard music prior to this (Couperin, Rameau). In the latter part of the 19th century Saint-Saens, Faure and Franck wrote many important keyboard works (solo, chamber, etc.), and Debussy and Ravel put Impressionism on the musical map in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

What happened in France to cause such a long drought in keyboard writing? Who knows.

Conversely, I've often wondered wondered how Germany was able to produce the likes of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms during the same period of time.

French composers.....

* Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)
* François-André Danican Philidor (1726–1795)
* François Joseph Gossec (1734–1829)
* Nicolas Dalayrac (1753-1809)
* Jean-Baptiste Bréval (1753–1823)
* Étienne Méhul (1763–1817)
* Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766–1831)
* Louis-Emmanuel Jadin (1768–1853)
* Hyacinthe Jadin (1776–1800)
* Charles Simon Catel (1773–1830)
* François-Adrien Boieldieu (1775–1834)
* Jacques Féréol Mazas (1782–1849)
* Daniel Auber (1782–1871)
* Nicolas-Charles Bochsa (1789–1856)
* Ferdinand Hérold (1791–1833)
* Fromental Halévy (1799–1862)
* Adolphe Adam (1803–1856)
* Hector Berlioz (1803–1869)
* Ambroise Thomas (1811–1896)
* Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813–1888)
* Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély (1817–1869)
* Charles Dancla (1817–1907)
* Charles Gounod (1818–1893)
* Charles-Louis Hanon (1819–1900)


Edited by carey (01/10/11 09:36 PM)
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#1595015 - 01/10/11 09:46 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: jeffreyjones]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6175
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Anything to do with the 1848 Revolution in France?

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#1595034 - 01/10/11 10:35 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: jeffreyjones]
BDB Offline
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One of the things might have been the French Revolution, when the harpsichords were gathered up and either sent to the Conservatory or burned. The ones that made it to the Conservatory were burned later. That probably included the early pianos, and the instruments that would have been turned into pianos, but either way, there was a dearth of keyboard instruments available.

Two composers missing from the list who were very significant because they also made pianos and important in their development were Pleyel and Herz.
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#1595072 - 01/11/11 12:08 AM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: carey]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: carey
* François-Adrien Boieldieu (1775–1834)

....gives me a chance to post one of my favorite non-piano pieces:

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#1595100 - 01/11/11 01:22 AM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: BDB]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6722
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: BDB
One of the things might have been the French Revolution, when the harpsichords were gathered up and either sent to the Conservatory or burned. The ones that made it to the Conservatory were burned later. That probably included the early pianos, and the instruments that would have been turned into pianos, but either way, there was a dearth of keyboard instruments available.

Two composers missing from the list who were very significant because they also made pianos and important in their development were Pleyel and Herz.


I was not aware of Henri Herz - but apparently he was very prolific !!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_compositions_by_Henri_Herz

Neither Pleyel nor Herz were native Frenchmen, however.


Edited by carey (01/11/11 01:26 AM)
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#1595101 - 01/11/11 01:31 AM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: Mark_C]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6722
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: carey
* François-Adrien Boieldieu (1775–1834)

....gives me a chance to post one of my favorite non-piano pieces:



Haven't heard this in a while !!! Thanks for sharing. I wonder if there is an arrangement for piano and orchestra ?
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#1595121 - 01/11/11 03:40 AM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: jeffreyjones]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Ah yes, but French wind music!
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#1595207 - 01/11/11 08:30 AM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: jeffreyjones]
izaldu Offline
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Why would you "need" any locals if Chopin and Liszt were already there most of the time? Not even Chopin s most important pupils seemed to be french ...

Then came Debussy, Ravel, Albéniz (who was pretty much ignored in Spain at the time) ...

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#1595453 - 01/11/11 04:12 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: carey]
David-G Offline
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Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1271
Loc: London
Originally Posted By: carey

French composers.....

* Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)
* François-André Danican Philidor (1726–1795)
* François Joseph Gossec (1734–1829)
* Nicolas Dalayrac (1753-1809)
* Jean-Baptiste Bréval (1753–1823)
* Étienne Méhul (1763–1817)
* Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766–1831)
* Louis-Emmanuel Jadin (1768–1853)
* Hyacinthe Jadin (1776–1800)
* Charles Simon Catel (1773–1830)
* François-Adrien Boieldieu (1775–1834)
* Jacques Féréol Mazas (1782–1849)
* Daniel Auber (1782–1871)
* Nicolas-Charles Bochsa (1789–1856)
* Ferdinand Hérold (1791–1833)
* Fromental Halévy (1799–1862)
* Adolphe Adam (1803–1856)
* Hector Berlioz (1803–1869)
* Ambroise Thomas (1811–1896)
* Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813–1888)
* Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély (1817–1869)
* Charles Dancla (1817–1907)
* Charles Gounod (1818–1893)
* Charles-Louis Hanon (1819–1900)


For completeness one should add

* Jean-François Le Sueur (1760-1837)
* Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)

Le Sueur taught Berlioz at the Paris Conservatoire. Cherubini was Italian, but settled in France for the most important part of his career, and became director of the Conservatoire. However, it seems that neither wrote for the piano.

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#1595487 - 01/11/11 04:59 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: izaldu]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2512
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: izaldu
Not even Chopin s most important pupils seemed to be french ...


Yet the French school descends in large part directly from Chopin ... as does the Russian school.

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#1595490 - 01/11/11 05:05 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: David-G]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6722
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: David-G
Originally Posted By: carey

French composers.....

* Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)
* François-André Danican Philidor (1726–1795)
* François Joseph Gossec (1734–1829)
* Nicolas Dalayrac (1753-1809)
* Jean-Baptiste Bréval (1753–1823)
* Étienne Méhul (1763–1817)
* Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766–1831)
* Louis-Emmanuel Jadin (1768–1853)
* Hyacinthe Jadin (1776–1800)
* Charles Simon Catel (1773–1830)
* François-Adrien Boieldieu (1775–1834)
* Jacques Féréol Mazas (1782–1849)
* Daniel Auber (1782–1871)
* Nicolas-Charles Bochsa (1789–1856)
* Ferdinand Hérold (1791–1833)
* Fromental Halévy (1799–1862)
* Adolphe Adam (1803–1856)
* Hector Berlioz (1803–1869)
* Ambroise Thomas (1811–1896)
* Charles-Valentin Alkan (1813–1888)
* Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély (1817–1869)
* Charles Dancla (1817–1907)
* Charles Gounod (1818–1893)
* Charles-Louis Hanon (1819–1900)


For completeness one should add

* Jean-François Le Sueur (1760-1837)
* Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)

Le Sueur taught Berlioz at the Paris Conservatoire. Cherubini was Italian, but settled in France for the most important part of his career, and became director of the Conservatoire. However, it seems that neither wrote for the piano.


Thanks David !! (I'm a fan of Cherubini's C minor Requiem thumb )
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#1595507 - 01/11/11 05:24 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: landorrano]
izaldu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 1269
Loc:
absolutely

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#1595511 - 01/11/11 05:32 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: landorrano]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: izaldu
Not even Chopin s most important pupils seemed to be french ...


Yet the French school descends in large part directly from Chopin ... as does the Russian school.
No, that's the problem. Chopin's best student died in his teens - no one carried on his legacy unlike Liszt who taught a regular plethora of geniuses.
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#1595521 - 01/11/11 05:51 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: keyboardklutz]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2512
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: izaldu
Not even Chopin s most important pupils seemed to be french ...


Yet the French school descends in large part directly from Chopin ... as does the Russian school.
No, that's the problem. Chopin's best student died in his teens - no one carried on his legacy unlike Liszt who taught a regular plethora of geniuses.


Happily, though, you are there to fill in the void.

Seriously, though, I think that you are quite mistaken.

Besides, when you say "that's the problem": what problem exactly are you talking about ?

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#1595528 - 01/11/11 05:59 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: jeffreyjones]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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The problem of French piano music in the 19th century - it's greatest star left no 'school'.
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#1595529 - 01/11/11 06:02 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: carey]
David-G Offline
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Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1271
Loc: London
Originally Posted By: carey
Thanks David !! (I'm a fan of Cherubini's C minor Requiem thumb )

And I of Médée. This brings to mind a wonderful recent concert with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, with an aria from Médée and Berlioz's La Mort de Cléopâtre, sung by the stunning mezzo Stéphanie d'Oustrac (who happens to be a great niece of Poulenc). Also a symphony by Méhul.

I know this does not advance the question of French piano music in the early 19th century!

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#1595541 - 01/11/11 06:19 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: keyboardklutz]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2512
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
The problem of French piano music in the 19th century - it's greatest star left no 'school'.


Can't agree. There are two: the French school and the Russian school.

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#1595553 - 01/11/11 06:44 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: keyboardklutz]
David-G Offline
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Registered: 01/17/06
Posts: 1271
Loc: London
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
The problem of French piano music in the 19th century - it's greatest star left no 'school'.

And the lesser stars... ?

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#1595600 - 01/11/11 08:01 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: David-G]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6722
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: David-G
Originally Posted By: carey
Thanks David !! (I'm a fan of Cherubini's C minor Requiem thumb )

And I of Médée. This brings to mind a wonderful recent concert with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, with an aria from Médée and Berlioz's La Mort de Cléopâtre, sung by the stunning mezzo Stéphanie d'Oustrac (who happens to be a great niece of Poulenc). Also a symphony by Méhul.

I know this does not advance the question of French piano music in the early 19th century!


True - but it is interesting to discuss anyway !!
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#1595651 - 01/11/11 10:05 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: jeffreyjones]
BDB Offline
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A couple of other French composers for piano worth noting are Chabrier and Chausson.
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#1595692 - 01/11/11 11:31 PM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: BDB]
jeffreyjones Offline
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Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2434
Loc: San Jose, CA
Originally Posted By: BDB
A couple of other French composers for piano worth noting are Chabrier and Chausson.


Good catches, but they both started composing after 1850. Chabrier does at least seem to be contemporaneous with Saint-Saens.

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#1595757 - 01/12/11 01:47 AM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: David-G]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: David-G
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
The problem of French piano music in the 19th century - it's greatest star left no 'school'.

And the lesser stars... ?
Faded. How about Alexandre Pierre François Boëly? Very popular in his day - I have a CD of his Sonates and Caprices. Music publishing was big business in Paris at the time. I'm sure a glance through the many catalogues would come up with plenty of second raters.
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#1595786 - 01/12/11 02:59 AM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: jeffreyjones]
wr Offline
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Posts: 8243
The original question may be the wrong one - maybe it is not so much that France (and the entire rest of Western civ) wasn't churning out fantastic composers of piano music, but that, for a time, there was such a flash of brilliance coming from a relatively limited part of central Europe.

It is strange how there have been geographic clusters of high artistic achievement throughout history, while neighboring areas inexplicably don't quite take off in the same way. Although I have heard tons of speculation about why these things happen, I don't think I have ever heard a very good explanation of it, outside of the existence of a sufficient base of interested patrons/consumers. But that doesn't explain where the interest in "high art" comes from.

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#1595801 - 01/12/11 04:06 AM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: wr]
andrew f Offline
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Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 120
Loc: Amsterdam
Originally Posted By: wr
The original question may be the wrong one - maybe it is not so much that France (and the entire rest of Western civ) wasn't churning out fantastic composers of piano music, but that, for a time, there was such a flash of brilliance coming from a relatively limited part of central Europe.

It is strange how there have been geographic clusters of high artistic achievement throughout history, while neighboring areas inexplicably don't quite take off in the same way. Although I have heard tons of speculation about why these things happen, I don't think I have ever heard a very good explanation of it, outside of the existence of a sufficient base of interested patrons/consumers. But that doesn't explain where the interest in "high art" comes from.


A bit of a tangent here, but after living in the Netherlands for 30 years, it's always amazed me that such a small geographical area (smaller than upstate New York) produced so many important visual artists throughout the centuries, while at the same time hardly any music worth mentioning.

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#1595851 - 01/12/11 07:29 AM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: andrew f]
Andromaque Offline
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Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: andrew f
Originally Posted By: wr
The original question may be the wrong one - maybe it is not so much that France (and the entire rest of Western civ) wasn't churning out fantastic composers of piano music, but that, for a time, there was such a flash of brilliance coming from a relatively limited part of central Europe.

It is strange how there have been geographic clusters of high artistic achievement throughout history, while neighboring areas inexplicably don't quite take off in the same way. Although I have heard tons of speculation about why these things happen, I don't think I have ever heard a very good explanation of it, outside of the existence of a sufficient base of interested patrons/consumers. But that doesn't explain where the interest in "high art" comes from.


A bit of a tangent here, but after living in the Netherlands for 30 years, it's always amazed me that such a small geographical area (smaller than upstate New York) produced so many important visual artists throughout the centuries, while at the same time hardly any music worth mentioning.


Random statistical clusters are described in many fields, but I am not asserting randomness here. The Dutch 17th century painters are certainly a remarkable stand-out..I don't know but have wondered too. Makes for interesting essays in the history of Art.
A similar stunning cluster of musicians has to be the Vienna Four: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn. I just mentioned them in a different thread.


Edited by Andromaque (01/12/11 07:30 AM)

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#1595859 - 01/12/11 07:46 AM Re: What happened to French piano music in the 19th century? [Re: andrew f]
mrenaud Offline
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Originally Posted By: andrew f
A bit of a tangent here, but after living in the Netherlands for 30 years, it's always amazed me that such a small geographical area (smaller than upstate New York) produced so many important visual artists throughout the centuries, while at the same time hardly any music worth mentioning.


Actually, during the Renaissance some quite important music came from the area that is now the Netherlands and Belgium (it was then, and still is to some extent, a single cultural entity) by composers such as Guillaume Dufay, Josquin Desprez or Johannes Ockeghem. Granted, they're mainly known in Ancient Music circles, but their importance can't be overstated.
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