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One of the most intriguing musical sources from the late Renaissance is Jacob van Eyck's Der Fluyten Lust-hof (The Recorder's Pleasure Garden). This the largest collection of music for solo wind instrument presents a selection of variations based on themes as diverse as Calvinist psalms, dances, the hits of the day and dirty songs. For centuries, this kind of music belonged to the repertoire of an instrument of ancient origin which was played at the courts, in the streets, churches, brothels and pubs: the recorder.
The composer was a blind nobleman, scientist and bell player. He used to improvise in the garden adjacent to the Sint Janskerk in Utrecht, entertaining by-passers and romancing young couples alike. Someone then must have listened his way through and transcribed what corresponds to almost ten hours of music, very much the way many a jazz musician still work today. The apparent popularity of van Eyck's music caused his publisher Paul Matthysz to edit several collections in van Eyck's lifetime. One can only imagine the troublesome procedures foregoing a publication of this kind, as the author couldn't write himself. Der Fluyten Lust-hof is an outstanding proof of a craft which is today a sadly neglected art form. To improvise was the true core of all music long before the invention of musical notation.