Luython, Charles

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Luython, Charles

Luython, Charles, Flemish composer; b. Antwerp, c. 1556; d. Prague, Aug. 1620. After receiving elementary training as a chorister, he was sent at the age of 10 to the Imperial Chapel in Vienna, where he remained until he was 15. He composed 2 masses for Emperor Maximilian II. Following studies in Italy, he was back in Vienna by 1576 as a member of the Kammermusik of the court; was made a chamber organist in 1577 by Rudolf II, whose court was moved to Prague; he composed a book of madrigals for his patron. He was made court organist in 1582, and then assumed the duties of first organist in 1593, being officially named to that post in 1596; that same year he became court composer, succeeding Philippe de Monte. With the death of the Emperor in 1612, Luython lost his positions and attendant financial security. He died in poverty. Apart from his book of madrigals (Venice, 1582), he publ. Popularis anni jubilus for 6 Voices (Prague, 1587), Selectissimarum sacrarum cantionum...for 6 Voices (Prague, 1603), Opus musicum in Lamentationes Hieremiae prophetae for 6 Voices (Prague, 1604), and Liber primus missarum for 3 to 7 Voices (Prague, 1609). Among his extant instrumental music is a Fuga suavissima (publ. in Woltz’s Tabulatur-Buch, 1617). Luython was a composer of extraordinary ingenuity; Michael Praetorius recounts in his Syntagma musicum that Luython owned a keyboard instrument with 3 manuals, representing the diatonic, chromatic, and enharmonic intervals (18 notes to the octave), thus securing theoretically correct modulations through sharps or flats.


L. de Burbure, C. L. (Brussels, 1880); A. Smijers, Karl L. als Motettenkomponist (Amsterdam, 1923); C. Saas, C. L: Ses madrigaux et oeuvres instrumentales (diss., Univ. of Louvain, 1958).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire