Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

b. Deventer, May 1562
d. Amsterdam, October 16, 1621


Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Dutch organist, harpsichordist, composer, and teacher, spent most of his life in Amsterdam. In 1580 he became the organist of the Oude Kerk (Old Church) succeeding his father, Pieter. Though he never ventured much out of Holland, Sweelinck's influence spread through the North German organ school via his students, who include Scheidt, Scheidemann, Praetorius, and Hasse.

Sweelinck's compositional style was also highly influential. He was the first to use independent pedal parts, including fugue subjects in the pedal line. He took many important forms from around Europe, including the Italian ricercar and the English virginal style, expanding and developing them in ways unknown before. In fact, many of his pieces contain the embryo of the fugue form, later perfected by J. S. Bach. His compositions bridge the gap from the Renaissance to the Baroque periods.

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Representative Works