G.B. Shaw: ‘Ballet at the Alhambra’, Shaw's Music, ed. D.H. Laurence (London, 1981), 96–9
H.V. HAMILTON/JOHN WARRACK/R
(b Sanne, nr Salzwedel, 1618; d Lüneburg, 19 Oct 1663). German composer. He attended several schools including, for three years, one in Stockholm, where his elder brother was Kantor. In 1641 he enrolled at the University of Strasbourg, where he studied law for about two years. After that he travelled through France, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark: he is said to have earned his living partly as a guide, partly as a soldier, and wherever he went he continued his musical education, especially in Italy. There is evidence from at least 1647 onwards of his fruitful collaboration with Johann Rist, on whose recommendation he was appointed civic Kantor at Kiel in 1648. From 1651 until his death he was Kantor at the Johanniskirche, the principal church of Lüneburg.
Many documents important for the history of the office of the Protestant Kantor date from Jacobi’s time at Lüneburg. They illustrate the difficulties facing a Kantor in the wake of the Thirty Years War and at the same time show what could be achieved by an active and single-minded musician. For instance, Jacobi drew up new regulations for the itinerant singing necessary for the maintenance of his pupils, and he insisted that the city establish choral scholarships and engage instrumentalists to accompany church music; furthermore, supplies of music for the school choir were increased and many instruments obtained or donated. The first Passion performances in Lüneburg took place during Jacobi’s term of office. He also exerted himself successfully on behalf of school theatre productions. Thus, 40 years before J.S. Bach attended its Michaelisschule, Jacobi gave the musical life of Lüneburg a decided stimulus.
As Kantor, Jacobi performed mainly new concerted church music. Most, however, of his own compositions that are so far known are the simple settings of texts by Rist, to whose dictates he clearly subjugated himself. Rist rejected the Italian song style as a vehicle for devotional texts, through which he wished to appeal to people of all classes. Thus he demanded from Jacobi a simple style renouncing all virtuosity and intensive interpretation of the words. While other composers of the Rist circle strove for a balance between a simple song style and musical expression, in Jacobi’s work interpretation of the words is seldom achieved by expressive turns of melody and unusual intervals or through the accompaniment. A certain schematism is in evidence: time signature, tempo and key are determined by the two basic emotions – elegies are in minor keys and are to be performed slowly, songs of praise, thanksgiving and joy are in quick triple time and major keys – and almost every line of text ends with a stressed cadence. Rist expressly stated that Jacobi had obeyed his wishes, even though he was capable of composing sophisticated and unusual melodies too. Most of his occasional compositions, in which he did not need to observe Rist’s instructions, also, however, consist chiefly of strophic arias in a simple, syllabic, declamatory style. The concertos for larger forces in the collection Timor Domini have not yet been investigated.
Neue musikalische Kreutz- Trost- Lob- und Dank Schuhle (J. Rist), 70 lieder (Lüneburg, 1659)
Timor Domini, 11vv/insts (Lüneburg, 1663)
27 occasional works, mostly for weddings and funerals, 1–5vv, 2–4 insts, bc, pubd Hamburg and Lüneburg (1651–62)
5 further lieder, pubd separately (1652–6), now lost; for titles see MGG1 and Walter
22 lieder in allegorical plays (Rist): Das friedewünschende Teutschland (Hamburg, 1647), Das friedejauchzende Teutschland (Nuremberg, 1653); 21 ed. in Schletterer
2 lieder in J. Rist: Neuer himlischer Lieder sonderbahres Buch (Lüneburg, 1651)
22 lieder in J. Rist: Frommer und gottseliger Christen alltägliche Haussmusik (Lüneburg, 1654)
12 lieder in J. Rist: Neue musicalische Katechismus-Andachten (Lüneburg, 1656)
2 lieder in J.R. Ahle: Neu-gepflanzten thüringischen Lust-Gartens ander Theil (Mühlhausen, 1658)