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Vaet’s compositional output was large considering that his career lasted approximately fifteen years: he is known to have produced nine settings of the Mass (including a Requiem Mass), sixty-six motets plus sundry minor liturgical items, a set of Magnificats, and three French chansons. In the dedication to his motet collection published in 1562, Vaet states that since his other duties left him little time to compose, he had decided to prioritize texts in praise of God Almighty and of the House of Austria. Seventeen of the extant pieces are indeed ‘state motets’ in honour of the Habsburgs; the remainder take the standard texts of the time, such as Psalm fragments, prayers, other Biblical excerpts and liturgical texts. One would suppose that given a normal lifespan (usually about sixty years at that time, though a few individuals are known to have lived into their nineties), Vaet would have composed a similar quantity of music to(c1510–c1555), who is perhaps the most obvious stylistic influence on him.
He died, however, on 8 January 1567 of unknown causes. The deterioration in his health seems to have been rapid: in 1566 he was well enough to accompany Maximilian onto the battlefield, and his last child was baptized on Christmas Eve, 1566. Since his patron had in the meantime been elevated to the imperial throne as Maximilian II, the post left vacant by Vaet’s death was among the most prestigious in Europe, and it was filled only after sixteen months, by the distinguished composer. Several poets wrote elegies to Vaet, one of which was set to music by his fellow Habsburg musician , and another suggests in its text that it was intended for musical composition by no less than —though sadly no such setting survives.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2009