Albrecht Dürer, The Bagpiper (1514)


Itinerant musicians were the most important actors in Early Modern musical culture. They were omnipresent at fairs, market days, at village and town fetes, sometimes  simply as street performers. Along with actors and jugglers, they were categorized as “dishonest,” which meant a disadvantaged legal status and social marginalization. Nevertheless, itinerant musicians were often welcome guests at princely courts, especially when a large celebration was to be held. This copper engraving by Albrecht Dürer shows a musician playing the bagpipes, which was considered the common people’s instrument in the Early Modern period because of its “unrefined” sound.


Source: Albrecht Dürer, The Bagpiper (1514). Engraving, The Metropolitan Museum of Art,

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Albrecht Dürer, The Bagpiper (1514), published in: German History Intersections, <> [November 29, 2023].