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Cantiones quae ab argumento sacrae vocantur (1575)



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Cantiones quae ab argumento sacrae vocantur (1575)


In 1575 Byrd and Tallis were jointly granted a patent for the printing of music and ruled music paper for 21 years, one of a number of patents issued by the Crown for the printing of books on various subjects. The two musicians used the services of the French Huguenot printer Thomas Vautrollier, who had settled in England and previously produced an edition of a collection of Lassus chansons in London (Receuil du mellange, 1570). The two monopolists took advantage of the patent to produce a grandiose joint publication under the title Cantiones que ab argumento sacrae vocantur consisting of 34 Latin motets dedicated to the Queen herself and accompanied by elaborate prefatory matter including poems in Latin elegiacs by the schoolmaster Richard Mulcaster and the young courtier Ferdinand Heybourne (aka Richardson). There are 17 motets each by Tallis and Byrd, one for each year of the Queen's reign.

Byrd's contribution to the Cantiones is highly variegated in character. The inclusion of Laudate pueri (a6) which proves to be an instrumental fantasia with words added after composition, is one sign that Byrd had some difficulty in assembling enough material for the collection. Diliges Dominum (a8), which may also originally have been untexted, is an eight-in-four retrograde canon of little musical interest. Also belonging to the more archaic stratum of motets is Libera me Domine (a5), a cantus firmus setting of the ninth responsory at Matins for the Office for the Dead, which takes its point of departure from the setting by Robert Parsons, while Miserere mihi (a6), a setting of a Compline antiphon often used by Tudor composers for didactic cantus firmus exercises, incorporates a four-in-two canon. Tribue Domine (a6) is a large-scale sectional composition setting from a medieval collection of Meditationes which was commonly attributed to St Augustine,[6] composed in a style which owes much to earlier Tudor settings of votive antiphons as a mosaic of full and semichoir passages. Byrd sets it in three sections, each beginning with a semichoir passage in archaic style.

Byrd's contribution to the Cantiones also includes compositions in a more forward-looking manner which point the way forwards to his motets of the 1580s. Some of them show the influence of the motets of Alfonso Ferrabosco I (1543–1588), a Bolognese musician who worked in the Tudor court at intervals between 1562 and 1578. Ferrabosco's motets provided direct models for Byrd's Emendemus in melius (a5), O lux beata Trinitas (a6), Domine secundum actum meum (a6) and Siderum rector (a5) as well as a more generalised paradigm for what Joseph Kerman has called Byrd's 'affective-imitative' style, a method of setting pathetic texts in extended paragraphs based on subjects employing curving lines in fluid rhythm and contrapuntal techniques which Byrd learnt from his study of Ferrabosco.

The Cantiones were a financial failure. In 1577 Byrd and Tallis were forced to petition Queen Elizabeth for financial help pleading that the publication had 'fallen oute to oure greate losse' and that Tallis was now 'verie aged'. They were subsequently granted the leasehold on various lands in East Anglia and the West Country for a period of 21 years



Hans Leo Hassler

Born in Nuremberg and baptized 26 October 1564, he was the son of an organist, and received his first instruction in music from his father, Issak Hassler.[1] In 1584, Hassler became the first of many German composers of the time who went to Italy to continue their studies; he arrived in Venice during the peak of activity of the Venetian school, the composers who wrote in the resplendent polychoral style, which was soon to become popular outside of its native city. Hassler was already familiar with some of this music, as numerous prints had circulated in Germany due to the interest of Leonhard Lechner, who was associated with Orlandus Lassus in Munich.

While in Venice, Hassler became friends with Giovanni Gabrieli, with whom he composed a wedding motet for Georg Gruber, a Nuremberg merchant living in Venice, in 1600. Together they studied with Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni's uncle. Under Andrea, Hassler received instruction in composition and organ playing.[2]

Following Andrea Gabrieli's death, Hassler returned to Germany in the latter part of 1585, moving to Augsburg where he served as an organist to Octavian II Fugger, a nobleman there. The Augsburg years were extremely creative for him; in addition he became well known as a composer and organist at this time, though his influence was limited because he was a Protestant in an area which was still heavily Catholic.

Hassler was not only a composer, but also an active organist and a consultant to organ builders. In 1596, Hassler, along with 53 other organists, was given the opportunity to examine a new instrument with 59 stops at the Schlosskirche, Groningen. Hassler was continually recognized for his expertise in organ design, and was often called upon as the examiner of new instruments. Using his extensive organ background, Hassler stepped into the world of mechanical instrument construction and developed a clockwork organ that was later sold to Emperor Rudolf II.[2]

In 1602, Hassler returned to Nuremberg where he became the Kapellmeister, or director of town music. While there, he was appointed Kaiserlichen Hofdiener in the court of Rudolf II. In 1604, he took a leave of absence and traveled to Ulm, where he was wed to Cordula Claus.[2] Four years later, Hassler moved to Dresden where he served as the electoral chamber organist to the Elector Christian II of Saxony, and eventually as Kapellmeister. By this time, Hassler had already developed the tuberculosis that would claim his life in June 1612. After he died, Michael Praetorius and Heinrich Schütz were appointed in his place.

Hassler was one of the first to bring the innovations of the Venetian style across the Alps. Through his songs, “in the manner of foreign madrigal and canzonets,” and the Lustgarten, Hassler brought to Germany the villanelle, canzonette, and dance songs of Gastoldi and Orazio Vecchi. As the first great German composer to undertake an “Italian Journey,” Hassler’s influence was one of the reasons for the Italian domination over German music and for the common trend of German musicians finishing their education in Italy.[3] While musicians of the stature of Lassus had been working in Germany for years, they represented the older school, the prima pratica, the fully developed and refined Renaissance style of polyphony; in Italy new trends were emerging which were to define what was later called the Baroque era. Musicians such as Hassler, and later Schütz, carried the concertato style, the polychoral idea, and the freely emotional expression of the Venetians into the German culture, creating the first and most important Baroque development outside of Italy.

Though Hassler was Protestant, he wrote many masses and directed the music for Catholic services in Augsburg.[4] While in the service of Octavian Fugger, Hassler dedicated both his Cantiones sacrae and a book of masses for four to eight voices to him. Due to the demands of the Catholic patrons, and his own Protestant beliefs, Hassler’s compositions represented a skillful blend of both religions’ music styles that allowed his compositions to function in both contexts.[5] Thus, many of Hassler's works could be used both in the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran. During his time in Augsburg, Hassler only produced two works that were specifically meant for the Lutheran church. Under the commission of the free city of Nuremberg, the Psalmen simpliciter was composed in 1608, and was dedicated to the city. Hassler also produced the Psalmen und christliche Gesange, mit vier Stimmen auf die Melodeien fugweis komponiert in 1607 and dedicated it to Elector Christian II of Saxony.[6] Stylistically, Hassler’s early works exhibit reflections of the influence of Lassus, while his later works are marked by the impressions left on him by his studies in Italy. After returning from Italy, Hassler incorporated polychoral techniques, textural contrasts and occasional chromaticism in his compositions. His later masses were characterized by light melodies juxtaposed with the grace and fluidity of the madrigalian dance songs; thus creating a charming sacred style that was more sonorous than it was profound.[7] His secular music—madrigals, canzonette, and songs among the vocal, and ricercars, canzonas, introits and toccatas among the instrumental—show many of the advanced techniques of the Gabrielis in Italy, but with a somewhat more restrained character, and always attentive to craftsmanship and beauty of sound. However, Hassler's greatest success in combining the German and Italian compositional styles existed in his lieder.[8] In 1590, Hassler released his first publication, a set of twenty-four, four-part canzonette. The Lustgarten neuer teutscher Gesang, Balletti, Galliarden und Intraden, which contains thirty-nine vocal and eleven instrumental pieces, is Hassler’s most renowned collection of lieder. Within this work, Hassler published dance collections for four, five, or six string or wind instruments with voice and without continuo.[9] He also composed Mein G'müt ist mir verwirret, a five-part piece. Its melody was later combined with the text O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden of Paul Gerhardt and used by Bach in his St Matthew Passion.[8]

Along with many of his contemporaries, Hassler sought to blend the Italian virtuoso style with the traditional style prevalent in Germany. This was accomplished in the chorale motet by employing the thorough bass continuo and including instrumental and solo ornamentation.[10] Hassler’s motets exhibit this blend of the old and the new in the way they reflect both the influence of Lassus and the two four-part chorus style of the Gabrielis.[11]

Hassler is considered to be one of the most important German composers of all time.[4] His use of the innovative Italian techniques, coupled with traditional, conservative German techniques allowed his compositions to be fresh without the modern affective tone.[12] His songs presented a combined vocal and instrumental literature that did not make use of the continuo, or only provided it as an option,[12] and his sacred music introduced the Italian polychoral structures that would later influence many composers leading into the Baroque era.



Josquin des Prez

Josquin des Prez (or Josquin Lebloitte dit Desprez; French: [ʒɔskɛ̃ depʁe]; c. 1450/1455 – 27 August 1521), often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Netherlandish composer of the Renaissance. He is also known as Josquin Desprez and Latinized as Josquinus Pratensis, alternatively Jodocus Pratensis. He himself spelled his name "Josquin des Prez" in an acrostic in his motet Illibata Dei virgo nutrix.[2][3] He was the most famous European composer between Guillaume Dufay and Palestrina, and is usually considered to be the central figure of the Franco-Flemish School. Josquin is widely considered by music scholars to be the first master of the high Renaissance style of polyphonic vocal music that was emerging during his lifetime.

During the 16th century, Josquin gradually acquired the reputation as the greatest composer of the age, his mastery of technique and expression universally imitated and admired. Writers as diverse as Baldassare Castiglione and Martin Luther wrote about his reputation and fame; theorists such as Heinrich Glarean and Gioseffo Zarlino held his style as that best representing perfection.[4] He was so admired that many anonymous compositions were attributed to him by copyists, probably to increase their sales.[5] More than 370 works are attributed to him;[6] it was only after the advent of modern analytical scholarship that some of these mistaken attributions have been challenged, on the basis of stylistic features and manuscript evidence. Yet in spite of Josquin's colossal reputation, which endured until the beginning of the Baroque era and was revived in the 20th century, his biography is shadowy, and next to nothing is known about his personality. The only surviving work which may be in his own hand is a graffito on the wall of the Sistine Chapel, and only one contemporary mention of his character is known, in a letter to Duke Ercole I of Ferrara. The lives of dozens of minor composers of the Renaissance are better documented than the life of Josquin.[7]

Josquin wrote both sacred and secular music, and in all of the significant vocal forms of the age, including masses, motets, chansons and frottole. During the 16th century, he was praised for both his supreme melodic gift and his use of ingenious technical devices. In modern times, scholars have attempted to ascertain the basic details of his biography, and have tried to define the key characteristics of his style to correct misattributions, a task that has proved difficult, as Josquin liked to solve compositional problems in different ways in successive compositions—sometimes he wrote in an austere style devoid of ornamentation, and at other times he wrote music requiring considerable virtuosity.[8] Heinrich Glarean wrote in 1547 that Josquin was not only a "magnificent virtuoso" (the Latin can be translated also as "show-off") but capable of being a "mocker", using satire effectively.[9] While the focus of scholarship in recent years has been to remove music from the "Josquin canon" (including some of his most famous pieces) and to reattribute it to his contemporaries, the remaining music represents some of the most famous and enduring of the Renaissance.[10]

Johann Sebastian Bach[1]

Johann Sebastian Bach[1] (31 March [O.S. 21 March] 1685 – 28 July 1750) was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist of the Baroque period. He enriched many established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Mass in B minor, the The Well-Tempered Clavier, his cantatas, chorales, partitas, Passions, and organ works. His music is revered for its intellectual depth, technical command, and artistic beauty.

Bach was born in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenach, into a very musical family; his father, Johann Ambrosius Bach, was the director of the town musicians, and all of his uncles were professional musicians. His father taught him to play violin and harpsichord, and his brother, Johann Christoph Bach, taught him the clavichord and exposed him to much contemporary music.[2][3] Bach also went to St Michael's School in Lüneburg because of his singing skills. After graduating, he held several musical posts across Germany: he served as Kapellmeister (director of music) to Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, Cantor of Thomasschule in Leipzig, and Royal Court Composer to August III.[4][5] Bach's health and vision declined in 1749, and he died on 28 July 1750. Modern historians believe that his death was caused by a combination of stroke and pneumonia.[6][7][8]

Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected throughout Europe during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the main composers of the Baroque period, and as one of the greatest composers of all time.[9]

Bach's mother died in 1694, and his father died eight months later.[5] Bach, 10, moved in with his oldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach (1671–1721), the organist at the Michaeliskirche in Ohrdruf, Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.[14] There he studied, performed, and copied music, including his own brother's, despite being forbidden to do so because scores were so valuable and private and blank ledger paper of that type was costly.[15][16] He received valuable teaching from his brother, who instructed him on the clavichord. J.C. Bach exposed him to the works of great composers of the day, including South German composers such as Johann Pachelbel (under whom Johann Christoph had studied)[2] and Johann Jakob Froberger; North German composers;[3] Frenchmen, such as Jean-Baptiste Lully, Louis Marchand, Marin Marais; and the Italian clavierist Girolamo Frescobaldi. Also during this time, he was taught theology, Latin, Greek, French, and Italian at the local gymnasium.[17]

At the age of 14, Bach, along with his older school friend George Erdmann, was awarded a choral scholarship to study at the prestigious St. Michael's School in Lüneburg in the Principality of Lüneburg.[18] Although it is not known for certain, the trip was likely taken mostly on foot.[17] His two years there were critical in exposing him to a wider facet of European culture. In addition to singing in the choir he played the School's three-manual organ and harpsichords.[17] He came into contact with sons of noblemen from northern Germany sent to the highly selective school to prepare for careers in other disciplines.

Although little supporting historical evidence exists at this time, it is almost certain that while in Lüneburg, Bach visited the Johanniskirche (Church of St. John) and heard (and possibly played) the church's famous organ (built in 1549 by Jasper Johannsen, and played by Georg Böhm). Given his musical talent, Bach had significant contact with prominent organists of the day in Lüneburg, most notably Böhm, but also including organists in nearby Hamburg, such as Johann Adam Reincken.[19]



Weimar, Arnstadt, and Mühlhausen (1703–08)

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St. Boniface's Church in Arnstadt

In January 1703, shortly after graduating from St. Michael's and being turned down for the post of organist at Sangerhausen,[20][21] Bach was appointed court musician in the chapel of Duke Johann Ernst in Weimar. His role there is unclear, but likely included menial, non-musical duties. During his seven-month tenure at Weimar, his reputation as a keyboardist spread so much that he was invited to inspect the new organ, and give the inaugural recital, at St. Boniface's Church in Arnstadt, located about 40 km southwest of Weimar.[22] In August 1703, he became the organist at St Boniface's, with light duties, a relatively generous salary, and a fine new organ tuned in the modern tempered system that allowed a wide range of keys to be used.

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St. Mary's Church in Lübeck

Despite strong family connections and a musically enthusiastic employer, tension built up between Bach and the authorities after several years in the post. Bach was dissatisfied with the standard of singers in the choir, while his employer was upset by his unauthorised absence from Arnstadt; Bach was gone for several months in 1705–06, to visit the great organist and composer Dieterich Buxtehude and his Abendmusiken at the Marienkirche in the northern city of Lübeck. The visit to Buxtehude involved a 400 kilometre (250 mi) journey on foot each way. The trip reinforced Buxtehude's style as a foundation for Bach's earlier works. Bach wanted to become amanuensis (assistant and successor) to Buxtehude, but did not want to marry his daughter, which was a condition for his appointment.[23]

In 1706, Bach was offered a post as organist at St. Blasius's in Mühlhausen, which he took up the following year. It included significantly higher remuneration, improved conditions, and a better choir. Four months after arriving at Mühlhausen, Bach married Maria Barbara Bach, his second cousin. They had seven children, four of whom survived to adulthood, including Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach who both became important composers as well. Bach was able to convince the church and city government at Mühlhausen to fund an expensive renovation of the organ at St. Blasius's. Bach, in turn, wrote an elaborate, festive cantataGott ist mein König, BWV 71—for the inauguration of the new council in 1708. The council paid handsomely for its publication, and it was a major success.[17]



Return to Weimar (1708–17)

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Portrait of the young Bach (disputed)[24]

In 1708, Bach left Mühlhausen, returning to Weimar this time as organist and from 1714 "Konzertmeister", director of music, at the ducal court, where he had an opportunity to work with a large, well-funded contingent of professional musicians.[17] Bach moved with his family into an apartment very close to the ducal palace. In the following year, their first child was born and Maria Barbara's elder, unmarried sister joined them. She remained to help run the household until her death in 1729.

Bach's time in Weimar was the start of a sustained period of composing keyboard and orchestral works. He attained the proficiency and confidence to extend the prevailing structures and to include influences from abroad. He learned to write dramatic openings and employ the dynamic motor-rhythms and harmonic schemes found in the music of Italians such as Vivaldi, Corelli, and Torelli. Bach absorbed these stylistic aspects in part by transcribing Vivaldi's string and wind concertos for harpsichord and organ; many of these transcribed works are still played in concert often. Bach was particularly attracted to the Italian style in which one or more solo instruments alternate section-by-section with the full orchestra throughout a movement.[25]

In Weimar, Bach continued to play and compose for the organ, and to perform concert music with the duke's ensemble.[17] He also began to write the preludes and fugues which were later assembled into his monumental work Das Wohltemperierte Clavier ("The Well-Tempered Clavier"—Clavier meaning clavichord or harpsichord),[26] consisting of two books, compiled in 1722 and 1744,[27] each containing a prelude and fugue in every major and minor key.

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The autograph of Bach's Violin Sonata No. 1 in G minor (BWV 1001)

Also in Weimar Bach started work on the Little Organ Book for his eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, containing traditional Lutheran chorales (hymn tunes) set in complex textures to train organists. In 1713 Bach was offered a post in Halle when he advised the authorities during a renovation by Christoph Cuntzius of the main organ in the west gallery of the Marktkirche Unser Lieben Frauen. Johann Kuhnau and Bach played again when it was inaugurated in 1716.[28][29] Musicologists debate whether his first Christmas cantata Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63, was premiered here in 1713,[30] or if it was performed for the bicentennial of the Reformation in 1717.[31] Bach eventually fell out of favour in Weimar and was, according to a translation of the court secretary's report, jailed for almost a month before being unfavourably dismissed: "On November 6, [1717], the quondam concertmaster and organist Bach was confined to the County Judge's place of detention for too stubbornly forcing the issue of his dismissal and finally on December 2 was freed from arrest with notice of his unfavourable discharge."[32]




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