III. Early Renaissance
Only a little later than the rise of the Ars Nova, but probably independently, a secular musical art of great vitality arose in Upper and Central Italy, linked with the growth of a vernacular literature, which had its centre in the Florence of Dante and his successors. The leading figure of this period was Francesco Landini (died 1397) who was a poet as well as a composer. This Italian style was imitated in Germany by Oswald von Wolkenstein, 'the last of the Minnesingers,' who had visited Italy in the entourage of King Rupert in 1401. In Germany, where the chief interest was given to polyphonic settings of folksongs, the Mastersingers flourished as a bourgeois echo of the Minnesingers. In England a further development of the Florentine style led to a climax in the group of composers centred around John Dunstable (died 1453). After them came the Netherlander or Burgundian masters, who dominated European music for several generations. The two leading composers, among the first two generations of these Netherlanders were Guillaume Dufay (died 1474) and Johannes Ockeghem (died 1495).