Bálint Bakfark

Bálint Bakfark

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Bálint Bakfark; 1507 – August 15 or August 22, 1576) was a Hungarian composer and lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

nist of the Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

. He was enormously influential as a lutenist in his time, and renowned as a virtuoso on the instrument.

Life


He was born in Braşov
Brasov
Brașov is a city in Romania and the capital of Brașov County.According to the last Romanian census, from 2002, there were 284,596 people living within the city of Brașov, making it the 8th most populated city in Romania....

 (Brassó), Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

 (nowadays in Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

). An orphan, he was brought up by the Greff family, and was educated in Buda
Buda
For detailed information see: History of Buda CastleBuda is the western part of the Hungarian capital Budapest on the west bank of the Danube. The name Buda takes its name from the name of Bleda the Hun ruler, whose name is also Buda in Hungarian.Buda comprises about one-third of Budapest's...

 at the court of John Zápolya. Bakfark remained there until 1540, though he possibly traveled to Italy
Italian city-states
The Italian city-states were a political phenomenon of small independent states mostly in the central and northern Italian peninsula between the 10th and 15th centuries....

 once during this time.

Sometime in the 1540s he traveled to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, but, finding the position of lutenist to the king filled, he left for Jagiellon Poland
Kingdom of Poland (1385–1569)
The Kingdom of Poland of the Jagiellons was the Polish state created by the accession of Jogaila , Grand Duke of Lithuania, to the Polish throne in 1386. The Union of Krewo or Krėva Act, united Poland and Lithuania under the rule of a single monarch...

 in 1549, where he was employed as a court lutenist by Sigismund Augustus II. From then until 1566, he traveled extensively around Europe, with his renown increasing, but remained faithful to his employer in spite of numerous efforts by other monarchs to win him away; the riches bestowed on him by Sigismund may have affected his decision to remain attached to the court in Vilnius
Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 (Wilno).

What happened to him in 1566 is not precisely known, but he clearly did something to provoke the wrath of the king, and scarcely had time to flee before Polish army troops ransacked his house and destroyed his possessions. After this, he lived for a while in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, and then returned to Transylvania, but not for long; in 1571 he moved to Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

, in Italy, where he remained until his death during the plague
Bubonic plague
Plague is a deadly infectious disease that is caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis, named after the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. Primarily carried by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious throughout history, due to the unrivaled scale of death...

 of 1576.

As was common practice at the time, all the possessions of plague victims were destroyed by fire, so most of his manuscript music was lost.

Music and influence


While Bakfark almost certainly wrote an enormous amount of music, very little was reprinted: a commonly given reason was that it was simply too difficult for others to play. His surviving works include ten fantasie
Fantasia (music)
The fantasia is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. Because of this, it seldom approximates the textbook rules of any strict musical form ....

s, seven madrigal
Madrigal (music)
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

s, eight chanson
Chanson
A chanson is in general any lyric-driven French song, usually polyphonic and secular. A singer specialising in chansons is known as a "chanteur" or "chanteuse" ; a collection of chansons, especially from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, is also known as a chansonnier.-Chanson de geste:The...

s, and fourteen motet
Motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

s—all in amazingly faithful polyphonic arrangements for lute alone. Additionally, he transcribed vocal motets by contemporary composers such as Josquin des Prez
Josquin Des Prez
Josquin des Prez [Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez] , often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance...

, Clemens non Papa
Jacob Clemens non Papa
Jacobus Clemens non Papa was a Flemish composer of the Renaissance based for most of his life in Flanders...

, Nicolas Gombert
Nicolas Gombert
Nicolas Gombert was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He was one of the most famous and influential composers between Josquin des Prez and Palestrina, and best represents the fully developed, complex polyphonic style of this period in music history.-Life:Details of his early life are...

, and Orlando di Lasso into arrangements for the lute.

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