Northern European Masters: Music of Poland, Denmark & Germany
Quem prosequamur laudibus Thomas Schattenberg
Amor Jesu dulcissimus (ca. 1580-after 1623)
Jesu tua dilectio
Jesus Christus er vor salighed Mogens Pedersøn
Jesus Christ vor Frelsermand (ca. 1538-1623)
Ad te levavi
W Tobie ufność swą kładę (Psalm 31) Mikołaj Gomółka (ca. 1535-1609)
Serce mi każe śpiewać Panu swemu (Psalm 45) Gomółka
Ego sum pastor bonus Wacławz Szamotuł (ca. 1524-ca. 1560)
Desiderium animae eius Mikołaj Zieleński (ca. 1550-after 1616)
Veni sancte spiritus Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)
Viel werden kommen Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)
Gaudent in coelis Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)
O gloriosa Domina Zielénski
Domine Rex Deus Franciszek Lilius (d. 1657)
Laudate Dominum Hieronymus Praetorius (1560-1629)
Shannon Canavin & Sara Ofner, soprano
Thea Lobo & Aaron Russo, alto
Jason McStoots & Eric Rice, tenor
Brian Church & Darrick Yee, bass
Friday, October 21, 2005 at 8pm
The First Lutheran Church of Boston, 299 Berkeley Street, Boston
Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 4pm
West Parish Church, 129 Reservation Road, Andover
Notes on the Program
If there is a “mainstream” in our current conception of composers in the 16th and 17th centuries, it occupies a long, relatively narrow region stretching from England through the Low Countries and France to Italy. A trend that began in the early 15th century and persisted well into the 17th saw musicians trained in the Low Countries (with varying amounts of influence from England) heading to Italy to seek employment in churches and courts among the Antiquities that so inspired visual artists and writers. Such a trend is particularly attractive to historians, because it accords with the idea of a “Renaissance” in music that is parallel to that in the other arts. But many areas of Europe become neglected in the process. The Iberian Peninsula is one such region; the far North and East of Europe is another. Our program samples music by composers active in Denmark and Poland, placing it alongside works by more familiar Germans with whom such northern masters interacted. Musicologists continue to establish the lives and work-lists of such composers, whose stories and music offer a fascinating glimpse into a nearly forgotten world.
Thomas Schattenberg (ca. 1580-after 1623) was born in Flensborg (which was then ruled by the Danish). He traveled to Hamburg in 1601, perhaps to study with Hieronymus Praetorius. In 1604, he was appointed organist at the church of St. Nicholas in Copenhagen, a post he held until 1634. Schattenberg’s Jubilus S. Bernhardi de nomine Jesu Christi Salvatoris nostri the source for the three Latin motets that begin our program, was published in 1620. Schattenberg’s texts, which stress the importance of the fervent relationship of the individual with God, demonstrate the influence of the mystical pious movements of North Germany in the early 17th century. The music attempts to portray this mystic piety, often quite successfully, through dramatic shifts of texture, rhythm, and harmony. Jesu tua dilectio is perhaps the most striking in this regard: what begins as a fairly static work quickly becomes almost madrigalesque in its use of different vocal combinations, chromaticism, and dotted rhythms.
Mogens Pedersøn (ca. 1538-1623) was a musician at the court of Christian IV, one of Denmark’s most generous patrons of music. Christian sent Pedersøn to Italy to study with Giovanni Gabrieli (1554-1612), and the ruler subsequently gave the composer leave to travel “wherever he can advance himself in his art and learning.” Pedersøn returned to Italy, where he learned the art of the Italian-style madrigal and composed two volumes of them (though the second appears never to have been published and is incomplete in manuscript form). Pedersøn then traveled to England to serve Christian’s sister Anne, wife of England’s King James I, during Denmark’s war with Sweden. In 1618, Pedersøn was appointed assistant director of the Danish royal chapel, the first native musician to attain such a high post. He appears to have died in 1623, when records indicate his wife received assistance for caring for six boys.
Pedersøn’s Pratum Spirituale appeared in 1620, the same year as Schattenberg’s Jubilus. The two books are the only surviving major publications of sacred vocal music by Danish composers from the court of Christian IV and are also the only examples of music that can be associated with a large city church (St. Nicholas) as well as a court. Pedersøn’s book is the oldest significant collection of Danish-texted music, containing five-part settings of liturgical melodies from Hans Thomissøn’s Salmebog (1569) and Niels Jespersen’s Graduale (1573), books created for use by the post-Reformation Danish church. In his dedication, Pedersøn wrote that he hoped the collection would be not only be of use to the nation but to the education of singers in the cathedral and grammar schools that provided choirs to the larger churches. This purpose accounts for the largely homophonic style of the pieces contained in the collection, which are largely based on Gregorian melodies or Lutheran chorales. Pedersøn’s Ad te levavi stands in stark contrast to the Danish works, however; here he shows himself as a composer well versed in the dramatic Italian stile antico, in which dissonance is treated in the manner of Palestrina, but with the addition of moments of highly expressive chromaticism.
Mikołaj Gomółka (ca. 1535-1609) worked at the court of King Sigismund August, who resided primarily in Kraków and Vilnius. From 1566 to 1578 he lived at Sandomierz where he evidently practiced law, only later earning his living as a professional musician in the employ of prominent citizens in Kraków. Gomółka’s only surviving music is contained in his 1580 publication Melodie na Psałterz polski. It consists of four-part settings of Jan Kochanowski’s Polish translation of the Psalter (1579), and is the first musical publication to include extensive settings of the Polish language. It was primarily intended for domestic use. Gomółka sets only the first verse of each psalm and observes the particular demands of each text though word-painting, unique textual declamation, and bold harmonies, making repetition of any subsequent verses difficult and unlikely.
Wacław z Szamotuł (ca. 1524-ca. 1560) studied at the Collegium Lubranscianum at Poznań and Kraków University. Considered the most distinguished Polish composer of his time, he was appointed composer at the court of King Sigismund II August in 1547, where his main duties were to provide sacred music for the chapel choir. Despite his post with the staunchly Catholic court, Szamotuł was actively engaged with the Reformation movement. While much of Szamotuł’s music has been lost, there remain a handful of simple pieces for popular use as well as excellent sacred motets, such as Ego sum pastor bonus, which displays his mastery of late Netherlandish style involving nearly constant imitation (in which one voice repeats, recognizably if not literally, a bit of melody previously heard in another voice).
While little is known about the life of Mikołaj Zieleński (ca. 1550-after 1616), he is cited as organist and music director to the Archbishop Wojciech Baranowski in his 1611 publication Offertoria/Communiones totius anni. This collection contains Zieleński’s only known music: two separate cycles of motets for the church year as well as additional sacred instrumental works. Divided into two distinct sections, the Offertoria is comprised of fifty-six pieces in polychoral style, while the music of the Communiones is more intimate, including works for solo voice and accompaniment and representing the earliest examples of Polish monody and concertatos with strong Italian influences. Desiderium animae eius, a setting of the first few verses of Psalm 20 (21) is drawn from the polychoral section, and features occasional florid melismas (passages with many notes applied to one syllable of text) between large chordal passages.
Michael Praetorius (1571-1621), one of the German Renaissance composers best known to today’s audiences, was particularly active in Eastern Germany, where he may well have interacted with Polish and Bohemian composers. He received his training at the Lateinschule at Zertbst, Anhalt, and from 1587 to 1590 was organist at the Marienkirche in Frankfurt an der Oder. He entered the service of Duke Heinrich Julius of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in 1595. He often traveled to Regensburg and was appointed court Kapellmeister there upon the retirement of Thomas Mancinus in 1604. Upon the death of Duke Heinrich Julius in Prague, where he appears to have traveled often with the duke, Praetorius spent two and a half years of mourning as deputy for the elderly Rogier Michael, Kapellmeister of the electoral court, and he spent most of this time in Dresden. He later worked at various times in Magdeburg, Halle, Kassel, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Bayreuth, and Ringelheim until his death in 1621.
Praetorius composed an impressive amount of music during his relatively short life. Veni, veni Sancte Spiritus is a freely composed setting of the original Latin hymn text for three voices of equal range, originally boys, and an adult male singer. It appeared in the composer’s massive Musae Sioniae, a nine-volume collection published between 1605 and 1611 dedicated to polyphonic settings of chorales (German vernacular hymns) and chant tunes.
Like Pedersøn, Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) spent time in Venice in an apprenticeship with Giovanni Gabrieli, adopting aspects of the elder composer’s forward-looking approach to dissonance treatment, speech rhythm, and polychoral textures. In 1614 he became the Kapellmeister at the court of the Elector Johann Georg I of Saxony in Dresden, a post he held for more than forty years. His five-voice Viel werden kommen is characterized by abundant suspended dissonances (in which one voice momentarily holds a note belonging to a chord that the other voices have left behind), particularly at the text “da wird sein Heulen und Zähnklappern” (“there will be howling and chattering of teeth”), where they may serve to represent the howls of those cast out of Heaven.
Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612) came from an active musical family and received his early training in Nuremburg. Like many of his fellow German composers, he traveled to Italy to study composition. Following the death of Andrea Gabrieli, with whom he, too, studied, Hassler returned to Germany and was appointed Cammerorganist to Octavian Fugger II in Augsburg. In 1596, he was invited to examine and inaugurate a new organ at the Schlosskirche, Gröningen along with fifty-two other celebrated organists, including Hieronymus and Michael Praetorius. Following the death of Octavian in 1600, Hassler left Augsburg (despite having been appointed director of the Stadtpfeiffer and of town music in general) to return to Nuremberg as director of that town’s music and organist at the Frauenkirche. After taking a year’s leave in the city of Ulm, where he was married, he left Nuremberg and became a citizen of Ulm. Hassler’s last post was at the court of Elector Christian II of Saxony in Dresden, where he died in 1612 of tuberculosis.
Hassler excelled as a keyboard player, but his published works are solely vocal and are considered among the finest of their time. Gaudent in coelis, published in 1601, displays Hassler’s interests in imitation, with which the piece begins and ends, and homophonic textures (ultimately an Italianate feature), which characterize the middle section in triple meter (on the text “et quia pro eius amore sanguinem suum fuderunt”). Through it all, Hassler drives the piece forward with chromatic leanings up and down according to the direction of the melodic line. The “alleluias” that end the piece are a tour de force: though the music is in fact very repetitive and occasionally predictable, it is never dull.
Though Franciszek Lilius (d. 1657) was of Italian birth, his life and musical work was strongly rooted in Polish musical culture, and he was one of the most prominent composers of early Polish Baroque music. Lilius is first detected in the record in association with the Royal Chapel of King Sigismund III Vasa in Warsaw, an association that ended in 1630. He then moved to Kraków to become master of the vocal-instrumental chapel of Wawel Cathedral and soon afterwards took holy orders. Lilius was subsequently posted at St. Michael at Wawel, Zębocin, and the Collegiate Church in Tarnów. Many of Lilius’s works were published and enjoyed considerable popularity throughout Poland, and he pursued his musical activities in Kraków for twenty-five years before leaving in 1655 for fear of a Swedish invasion. He died two years later.
Of Lilius’s eighty recorded works, only twenty-four are extant, and half of those are incomplete. Four of the surviving works are church concerti, particularly admired for their forward-looking style, while the remaining pieces are unaccompanied pieces for between four and eight voices in the post-Renaissance stile antico style. Domine Rex Deus is specifically scored for countertenor, three equal tenor voices, and a bass. It is a classic tenor motet, with an equal-note cantus firmus (pre-existing melody) in the third tenor line with the surrounding voices closely interwoven in close imitation both based on the cantus firmus and freely composed. It is the most archaic in style of Lilius’s output, despite newer elements of the repetition of quarter notes in the opening melodic phrase and a triple section at the end of the motet.
Hieronymus Praetorius (1560-1629), who was not related to Michael, was a composer and organist who received his training in Hamburg and Cologne. His first post as organist was in Erfurt, and in 1582 he returned to Hamburg as assistant organist to his father Jacob at the Jacobikirche. When his father died in 1586, Praetorius assumed the post of organist, which he held until his death. Nearly all of Preatorius’s masses, motets, and Magnificat settings were published in five volumes between 1616 and 1625. His polychoral compositions, scored for eight to twenty voices, were among the earliest Venetian-inspired pieces to be published in north Germany. They are his most progressive and important works, exhibiting greater textual expression and textural contrast than those of his contemporaries. Though Italian influence can be plainly heard in this and other works on our program, Praetorius and his northern colleagues also present their own distinctive characters, which are well worth exploring.
Shannon Canavin & Eric Rice, ©2005