Tielman (or Tylman) Susato (c. 1510/15 – after 1570)
was a Renaissance composer, instrumentalist and
publisher of music in Antwerp.
While Susato's place of birth is unknown, some scholars
believe that because of his name—Susato meaning de
Soest, of the town of Soest — he may be from the town
of that name in Westphalia, or the town of Soest in The
Not much is known about his early life, but he begins
appearing in various Antwerp archives of around 1530
working as a calligrapher as well as an
instrumentalist: trumpet, flute and tenor pipe are
listed as instruments that he owned.
In 1543, he founded the first music publishing house
using movable music type in the Low Countries. He could
be found in Antwerp, "At the Sign of the Crumhorn."
Until Susato set up his press in Antwerp, music
printing had been done mainly in Italy, France and
Germany. Soon afterwards, Susato was joined by Petrus
Phalesius the Elder in Leuven and Christopher Plantin,
also in Antwerp, and the Low Countries became a
regional center of music publishing. It is possible
that Susato also ran a musical instrument business, and
he attempted several times to form partnerships with
other publishers but none were successful. In 1561 his
son Jacob Susato, who died in 1564, took over his
publishing business. Tielman Susato first moved to
Alkmaar, North Holland, and later to Sweden. The last
known record of him dates from 1570.
Susato was also an accomplished composer. He wrote (and
published) several books of masses and motets which are
in the typical imitative polyphonic style of the time.
He also wrote two books of chansons which were
specifically designed to be sung by young,
inexperienced singers: they are for only two or three
voices. Most important of his publications in terms of
distribution and influence were the Souterliedekens of
Clemens non Papa, which were metrical psalm settings in
Dutch, using the tunes of popular songs. They were
hugely popular in the Netherlands in the 16th
Susato also was a prolific composer of instrumental
music, and much of it is still recorded and performed
today. He produced one book of dance music in 1551, Het
derde musyck boexken ... alderhande danserye, composed
of pieces in simple but artistic arrangement. Most of
these pieces are dance forms (allemandes, galliards,
and so forth).
Often Susato dedicated his publications to prominent
citizens of the town. Sometimes he devoted an entire
volume to the works of one composer (for example
Manchicourt and Crecquillon). Not surprisingly, he
seems to have favored other Flemish composers as
subjects for publication. He was also one of the first
to publish music of the acclaimed late Renaissance
composer Orlande de Lassus.
Although originally composed for Choir (SAB/ATB), I
created this Interpretation of the "Le premier Livre
des chansons à deux ou à troix parties" (Book of Songs
for 2 & 3 Parts) for Double-Reed Trio (Oboe, English
Horn & Bassoon).