Belgium is a modern state founded during the 19th century. Previously, the territory of modern Belgium has a complex history of changing national boundaries. In musical terms, it would probably be more instructive to use the term The Low Countries for what is now Belgium, together with the Netherlands and parts of north France.

During the renaissance, composers from the Low Countries had a great influence on the development of polyphony from plainchant. In 15th and 16th centuries composers and musicians from the Low Countries were among the foremost in Europe, and they were  much in demand in the courts and churches elsewhere in Europe. Orlande Lassus, who was born in Mons in 1532 and died in Munich 1594 composed both church music and secular madrigals. (His name is often written in its Italian form, Orlando di Lasso). But in the baroque and classical periods the music scene was dominated by French and Italian imports. In the romantic period, Cesar Frank emerges as a Belgian composer of world renown.