|One of the greatest contemporaries of Josquin Desprez and one of the most highly regarded and influential musicians of his generation. Though born in Flanders, nothing is known of his earliest years. It is not until about 1485 when the composer was presumably in his mid-30s that we learn he traveled south from Innsbruck to Florence to enter the service of the house of the Medici as a singer and composer. Following Lorenzo's death in 1492 and the subsequent expulsion of the Medici from Florence by the religious reformer Savanarola and his followers, Isaac left Florence to accept a position as composer to the itinerant court of the Habsburg-Burgundian Emperor, Maximilian I. He remained in Maximilian's service for the rest of his life dividing his time between Vienna, Constance, Florence and several other cities.
Isaac's vast output reflects a cosmopolitan blend of Franco-Flemish, Italian and German stylistic elements. His ability to adapt to local traditions can best be seen in his secular songs - he composed French chansons, Italian frottole and German Tenorlieder with equal facility and stylistic aptness. His sacred music, consisting of about 40 mass settings and 50 free motets, displays some of the same ability to adapt the style of the Low Countries to local customs and practices. As both a composer and a teacher, Isaac exercised a profound influence on German music that extended from Lassus to Bach.