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Jakub Reys (Polak)

Jakub Reys, also known as "Jacques le Polonais" or "Jakub Polak", was born in Poland around 1540. He was a lute-player and composer who was active mainly in France. He must have been a very skilled performer, because the works that were written by him are full of technical difficulties which he himself seems to have managed quite well. Also as a composer he was a man who followed new ideas - the at that time emergent major-minor tonal system, strong harmonic considerations, dissonances through suspensions and retardations and the like. Especially admired were his galliards (four of which still survive) which show already the main construction principle that should be the leading one for the two coming centuries: in the major keys, modulation to the dominant, and in the minor keys, modulation to the relative major. Amongst other dance forms we know also of one sarabande by Reys, which consists of a tehme and seven variations - this piece is of special interest because it shows the earliest occurrence of said dance on French ground. Apart from his lute works he may also have been the person who made a few keyboard intabulations, however, this cannot be claimed with certainty nowadays, as we have too little evidence of historical facts in connection with a piece by Gabrieli that was intabulated in 1605 and is signed "Jakob". Reys died in Paris around 1605.

Information supplied by Monika Fahrnberger
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