Heinrich Isaac

The Netherlandish Composer

Basic Information

(c 1450 - March 26, 1517)


  • Little is known of his life
  • Probably born in Flanders
  • Composer and music teacher

What we do know of his life:

  • was writing music by 1470s
  • was patroned by Lorenzo de' Medeci
  • organist, choir master, and teacher to Lorenzo's children
  • One of his students was Pope Leo X
  • married a Florentine and stayed in Florence even after the Medeci were banished in 1494
  • in 1497 he entered the service of Emperor Maximilian I and traveled Germany, influencing composers.


Composed Works

Isaac had many masses, motets, songs, and instrumental works.

Here a just a few notables.


  • Lied Innsbruck, ich mass dich lassen
  • Choralis Constantinus
  • Angeli Archangeli
  • Optime Pastor (optime divino)






The Work he's most remembered for: Innsbruck, Ich Muss dich Lassen

Heinrich Isaac: Innsbruck, Ich muss dich lassen

About this Piece

  • Called Innsbruck, Ich muss dich Lassen
  • Large debate as to whether or not he wrote it, or simply used the tune for his own piece.
  • When, or if he wrote it, is not certain
  • This piece has Individualism, as it is about a person's sadness, a farewell
  • This piece was written in German about sadness of having to leave court. It begins with an expression of the problem, sadness of having to leave the court at Innsbruck, then follows into another set of similar nature. Finally, it uses personification and refers to Innsbruck, or possibly a woman there, calling her to wait for his return.
  • This is Isaac's most well known piece, and though he must have written hundreds of songs, we have only a few.


Was he a Renaissance Man?

A Renaissance man: decided by the group is



  • Artsy Check
  • does things for their own happiness Not Really
  • Daring Not Really
  • Patrons Check
  • Idealistic Not Really
  • Occasionally Radical Not Really
  • Focused on physical Not Really
  • Realistic We have no idea
  • Expressive Check
  • Loyal We have no idea
  • Power Hungry Doubt it.
  • Religious Check
  • went with the flow We have no Idea
  • Secular Doubt it
  • family, lineage, We Know nothing of his heritage
  • Classical Ideas Not Really
  • Humanist Doubt it
  • Scholar, Educated Check.



That's 5/18, Numerically answering: No, he was not a Renaissance man.

He had no isms that we know of, further proving that point.