Scheidemann: Magnificats

Heinrich Scheidemann (c1595-1663)
Complete Organ Works
Vol 2: Magnificat Cycles (Ed. Klaus Beckmann)
128 pages  • ISMN: 979-0-001-13660-0 • Softbound
Schott Music
 ED 9729

8 Magnificat Cycles; Anonymus: Chorale Fantasy (Magnificat VIII.toni)

Complete Organ WorksHeinrich Scheidemann is one of the most interesting of the students of Sweelinck, the Amsterdam organist and teacher, who influenced many organists, particularly in Hamburg. His pupils helped to develop the important  17th century North German school of organ playing and composition that led eventually to Dietrich Buxtehude, a composer that the young Bach admired and travelled to hear. In this period the organists in the Hamburg churches had almost as much status as the preachers, and were expected to elaborate musically on many aspects of the Lutheran service. Scheidemann was organist of the Catherinenkirche in Hamburg. He taught his successor there, Reincken, and also possibly Buxtehude. Continue reading

Buxtehude: Complete Organ Works Vol 1

Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Complete Organ Works
Vol 1: Compositions Pedaliter
 – 18 Praeludia BuxWV 136-153 (Ed. Klaus Beckmann)
120 pages • 23 x 30.5 cm • 455 g • ISMN: 979-0-004-16866-0 • Softbound
Edition Breitkopf EB 6661

Dietrich Buxtehude holds a special place in the hearts of most organists, although this is occasionally because he is the only pre-Bach German composer that they are aware of. But, despite many years of musicological research and publications, he still remains a somewhat enigmatic composer. There is still no agreement as to his birth date or place, and what his name really was. He seems to have been born  in Helsingborg (in present day Sweden, but then part of Denmark)  as Diderich, but later changed the spelling from the Danish to a more Germanic Dietrich (or Dieterich). His surname also appears in several versions, including Box de Hude.

Producing modern editions of his organ music is fraught with potential difficulties, not least because no surviving copies of Buxtehude’s autograph copies have been found. Continue reading

Sweelinck: Complete Keyboard Works

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Complete Keyboard Works
Volume 1 – Toccatas (Ed. Harald Vogel, Peter Dirksen)

128 pages • 23 x 30,5 cm • 460 g • ISMN: 979-0-004-18206-2
Edition Breitkopf EB 8741
Volume 2 – Fantasias (Ed. Peter Dirksen,  Harald Vogel)

224 pages • 23 x 30,5 cm • 825 g • ISMN: 979-0-004-18272-7
Edition Breitkopf  EB 8742

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (dubbed the ‘Orpheus of Amsterdam) was one of the most important keyboard composers at that musically fascinating period at the end of the Renaissance period and the start of the Baroque. Born in 1562, he was employed by the city of Amsterdam as organist of the Oude Kerk for 44 years until his death in 1621. Organ music in the Calvanist church was limited to occasional playing of pieces to familiarise the congregation with the choral melodies, before or after the service, but not during. So Sweelinck’s duties as city organist were generally to give concerts for the public and visitors. This have him time to build up an extensive teaching practice, attracting a generation of North German organists who returned to develop the influential Hamburg organ school that dominated the 17th century, culminating in the music Buxtehude in nearby Lübeck. His music was known throughout northern Europe, with two of his pieces includrf within the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.

Breitkopf have published his complete keyboard works in four volumes, Continue reading

Frescobaldi: Fiori Musicali

Frescobaldi: Fiori Musicali
ed. Andrea Macinanti & Francesco Tasini
124pp, 235×315 mm, ISMN: 979-0-2153-0642-4
Ut Orpheus Edizioni ES39.

Frescobaldi’s Fiori Musicali was published in 1635. He was at the height of his musical powers, having just returned to Rome (after six years with the Medici’s in Florence) to work for the Barberini Pope and Cardinals, and continued his post as organist of St Peter’s in Rome, a post he had held throughout his many travels. Although many pieces in Frescobaldi’s earlier books of Toccatas (1615/16 and 1627) were clearly intended for organ and would have presumably have been playing in a liturgical setting, Fiori Musicali is his only organ book specifically geared towards use in the Mass. It was his last publication of new music, although he did re-issue some earlier volumes. It quickly became one of his most popular publications, and was used as an exemplar of polyphonic writing well into the 19th century. Bach also studied it and copied it out. Continue reading

Scheidt: Keyboard music transmitted in manuscript form

Samuel Scheidt: Keyboard music transmitted in manuscript form
ed. Peter Dirksen
120pp, 230×305 mm, ISMN: 979-0-004-18395-3
Edition Breitkopf EB8831.

Following the three volumes of Scheidt’s Tabulatura Nova (reviewed here), the most recent of the Breitkopf Scheidt edition, recently published, covers the keyboard music found in manuscript sources. The importance of his three volume Tabulatura Nova has meant that the music not included in those volumes is usually overlooked, Continue reading

Scheidt: Tabulatura Nova III

Samuel Scheidt: Tabulatura Nova III
ed. Harald Vogel
192pp, 230×305 mm, ISMN: 979-0-004-18122-5
Edition Breitkopf EB8567.

Breitkopf & Härtel have completed their important four volume series of the organ and keyboard works of Samuel Scheidt. Volumes I & II of Scheidt’s monumental 1624 Tabulatura Nova were published as EB 8565 and EB 8566 (containing works SSWV 102-126 & 127-138 respectively), both edited by Harald Vogel, as is the third volume, EB 8567 reviewed here. This contains works SSWV 139-158, the nine Magnificat settings together with a Kyrie and Hymn settings and Continue reading

JS Bach: Complete Organ Works – Volume 8

JS Bach: Complete Organ Works – Volume 8
Organ Chorales of the Leipzig Manuscript
Ed. Jean-Claude Zehnder
Breitkopf & Härtel 2015
Edition Breitkopf EB8808
184pp + CD

Editions of Bach’s organ works are something of a minefield, even when there are clear autograph scores available. In many cases that is not the case, so the role of the editor and the availability and accuracy of available sources becomes an important consideration. Of all the publishers to be involved in Bach, Breitkopf & Härtel are perhaps the most appropriate. Founded in Leipzig in 1719  four years before Bach took up his post there, they were the first to publish the complete works of Bach, between 1851 and 1900 for the Bach-Gesellschaft. Unfortunately, at the moment, I only have access to one volume of their latest complete Bach Organ Works, so cannot comment on the 10 volume set as a whole.

The chorales from the Leipzig Manuscript are known by a variety of names, one of which is the ‘Eighteen Chorales’. This is misleading, not least because there are arguably either 15, 17 or 18 chorales in the collection. The first 13 Continue reading

Holy Treasure and Sacred Song

Holy Treasure and Sacred Song
Relics Cults and their Liturgies in Medieval 
Benjamin Brand
Oxford University Press
USA, New York, 2014
Hardback. xxii+296pp. ISBN 978-0-19-935135-0

Holy Treasure and Sacred SongThe medieval cult of saintly relics has left us with some glorious examples of art, architecture, literature and music. But the studies of historians generally focus on one of first three of these aspects in isolation. This book aims to redress the balance by focussing on the musical aspects but within the context of the rich story of politics, power and influence, the complex history of monasticism and liturgy, and the artistic outpouring that the devotion to relics generated. It covers the period from around the mid-eighth century to the thirteenth in Tuscany. It is an extension of a Yale PhD thesis by musicologist Benjamin Brand.

The first three chapters reveal the world of the medieval bishops as ‘lords and builders’, later to become defenders of the holy treasures that their predecessors had amassed in their cathedrals against Scandinavian and Magyar invasions Continue reading

European Music 1520-1640

European Music 1520-1640
Ed. James Haar
The Boydell Press 2014
Paperback. x+586pp. ISBN 978-1843838944

European Music 1520-1640 by Haar

This was first published in hardback in 2006 (at £75), as part of the Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Music series, and has now been reissued in paperback at a more realistic price (£25). A comprehensive guide to the music of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century, it’s separate essays cover the different genres of late Renaissance polyphonic music (music for the Mass, the Motet, Chanson, Madrigal, early opera, instrumental music), extra-musical influences (music printing, the Reformation, Catholic renewal) together with chapters on the music of Italy, France, The Netherlands, German and Central Europe, Spain, and England. Continue reading

Music at German Courts, 1715-1760


Music at German Courts, 1715-1760: Changing Artistic Priorities
Ed. Samantha Owens, Barbara M. Reul, Janice B. Stockigt
The Boydell Press 2015
Paperback. 504pp. ISBN 9781783270583

First published in hardback in 2011, this important book is now available in paperback. With 15 contributors, from Germany, Poland, the United States, Canada, and Australia, it covers the detailed history of the complex world of 15 Germanic Courts, of varying sizes. Many people’s knowledge of such institutions often only comes from the brief background knowledge of Bach’s various tenures in local Courts, before his eventual move to Leipzig. The essays in this book puts Bach’s career into a wider perspective, and one that is relatively little known. The Germanic system of often very small scale princely courts might have made for a complex hierarchy of aristocracy and governance, and some tricky questions of inheritance, but it made for an extraordinary flowering of art and music, as each little domain tried to outdo its neighbour.

Rather like those pub-quiz questions about the hierarchy of angels (ranging from Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones Continue reading

Andrew Parrott. Composers’ Intentions? Lost Traditions of Musical Performance

Andrew Parrott. Composers’ Intentions? Lost Traditions of Musical Performance
The Boydell Press, 2015
Paperback. 421pp, ISBN 9781783270323

Andrew Parrott is one of the leading members of a particularly influential generation of musician/scholars who founded performing groups in the 1970s: in his case, the Taverner Consort, Choir and Players, founded in 1973 . They changed the way that we think about, perform, and listen to, ‘early’ music. Unlike many conductors who cut their teeth in the world of period performance, Andrew Parrott has retained his strong research interests, notably around the music of Bach and Monteverdi. Perhaps best known for his book, The Essential Bach Choir (published in 2000), an expansion of the theories of Joshua Rifkin that Bach’s choirs were essentially performing as one to a part, Parrott remains an essential component of the early music world. Hence the importance of his latest book: Composers’ Intentions? Lost Traditions of Musical Performance.

This important collection of previously published essays, combined with Andrew’s further reflections on aspects of period performance, Continue reading