Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562 – 1621) was a Dutch composer, organist, and pedagogue whose work straddled the end of the Renaissance and beginning of theBaroque eras. He was among the first major keyboard composers of Europe, and his work as a teacher helped establish thenorth German organ tradition.
The composer most probably spent his entire life in Amsterdam, only occasionally visiting other cities in connection with his professional activities: he was asked to inspect organs, give opinions and advice on organ building and restoration, etc. These duties resulted in short visits to Delft, Dordrecht (1614), Enkhuizen, Haarlem(1594), Harderwijk (1608), Middelburg (1603), Nijmegen (1605), Rotterdam (1610), Rhenen (1616), as well as Deventer, his birthplace (1595, 1616). Sweelinck's longest voyage was to Antwerpen in 1604, when he was commissioned by the Amsterdam authorities to buy a harpsichord for the city.
His employment allowed him time for teaching, for which he was to become as famous as for his compositions. Sweelinck's pupils included the core of what was to become the north German organ school: Jacob Praetorius II, Heinrich Scheidemann, Paul Siefert, Melchior Schildt and Samuel and Gottfried Scheidt.
Sweelinck's influence spread as far as Sweden and England, carried to the former by Andreas Düben and to the latter by English composers such as Peter Philips. Sweelinck, and Dutch composers in general, had evident links to the English school of composition. Sweelinck's music appears in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, which further only contains the work of English composers.
Ballo del Granduca is one of today's favorites pieces by Sweelinck. Its authenticity is doubtful as it might have been composed by Samuel Scheidt. The title of the piece refers to the Balleto (or little dance of joyful character of the Renaissance) of the Great Duke.
I tried to play it in a stately manner, as a granduca probably is not 18 but more likely 81 years old.