Harmonia Early Music

Harmonia Time Capsule: 1612

Let’s take a quick look back in time. . . . to the year 1612.

pendle witches

Photo: Malleus Fatuarum (wikipedia)

Detail from an illustration of Ann Redferne and Chattox, two of the Pendle witches, from William Harrison Ainsworth's novel The Lancashire Witches, 1849.

In June, Hans Leo Hassler succumbed to tuberculosis.  Before his untimely death, Hassler had served as chamber organist and then chapel master to the Elector Christian II of Saxony.  Hassler’s musical talent had earned him prior positions in the city of Nuremberg and the court of Rudolf II.

Like many German musicians of his day, Hassler sought musical training in Italy.  His studies took him to Venice, where he found himself steeped in the music of the “Venetian School,” a musical style characterized by sonorous multiple choirs and sensitivity to resonant space.  While in Venice, Hassler became friends with a young Giovanni Gabrieli.  Both studied under Giovanni’s uncle Andrea, an internationally renowned organist and composer.  The two also undertook a joint composition for Georg Gruber, a Nuremberg merchant who also lived Venice.

Hans Leo Hassler
Missa Octava Ensemble
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album cover

Hans Leo Hassler: Cantate Domino; Motets & Organ Works
Weser-Renaissance / Martin Bocke / Jörg Jacobi / Harry Geraerts
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Oddly enough, Giovanni Gabrieli passed away that same year.  After slowly relinquishing his musical duties at St. Mark’s Basilica and the Church of Saint Roch, he died of complications from a kidney stone.  Giovanni Gabrieli’s musical career had flourished within the city of Venice.  Following in his uncle’s footsteps, he took up the position of principal composer at St. Mark’s Basilica after 1586.

A year prior, Giovanni had taken over Claudio Merulo’s position as principal organist.  The platform of St. Mark’s Basilica made Giovanni’s name known throughout all of Europe.  Composers from other countries, particularly Germany, flocked to Venice in order to study with him.  As a result, Giovanni Gabrieli’s musical style greatly influenced the music of north Germany, including the compositions of Heinrich Schütz and Johann Sebastian Bach.  This influence was felt years after Giovanni’s death.

Gabrieli: The Canzonas and Sonatas from Sacrae Symphoniae 1597
His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts
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Over in England in 1612, Robert Dowland, son of esteemed lutenist and composer John Dowland, was appointed court musician for King James I.  Robert Dowland is somewhat shadowed by his father, whose smash hit Lachrimae pavane became the basis for over a hundred different arrangements.  Nevertheless, Robert was himself a highly accomplished musician.  His anthology “A Musical Banquet” was the first of its kind to include songs in English, French, Italian, and Spanish.   It was published when Robert was only nineteen years old.

Dowland: Complete Lute Works, Vol.1-5
Paul O'Dette
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album cover

Also in England, witch trials were being held in 1612.  The infamous Pendle Witch Trials are some of the best documented court proceedings in the seventeenth century.  Twelve people in the area of Pendle Hill in Lancashire were charged with the supernatural “murder” of ten others.  The majority of them were hanged.  Ironically, a number of the accused did consider themselves witches.  In rural areas, it was not uncommon for each village to have its resident witch: a person with great knowledge of the healing properties of herbs, a specialist in commonly occurring diseases, and someone who regularly served as a midwife.

The Lancashire Witches: A Romance of Pendle Forest
William Harrison Ainsworth
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Potts's Discovery of Witches: In the County of Lancaster
Esq., James Crossley
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Music heard on this time capsule:

Hans Leo Hassler : Unter alln auff disr erden
Capella Lipsiensis — Hassler: Lustgarten Neuer Teutscher Gesäng (Berlin Classics , 2009)
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album cover

Hans Leo Hassler : Unter alln auff disr erden
Capella Lipsiensis — Hassler: Lustgarten Neuer Teutscher Gesäng (Berlin Classics , 2009)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Hans Leo Hassler
Missa Octava Ensemble
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Hans Leo Hassler: Cantate Domino; Motets & Organ Works
Weser-Renaissance / Martin Bocke / Jörg Jacobi / Harry Geraerts
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Gabrieli: The Canzonas and Sonatas from Sacrae Symphoniae 1597
His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Dowland: Complete Lute Works, Vol.1-5
Paul O'Dette
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
The Lancashire Witches: A Romance of Pendle Forest
William Harrison Ainsworth
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Potts's Discovery of Witches: In the County of Lancaster
Esq., James Crossley
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Harmonia Early Music

Harmonia Early Music is a nationally syndicated weekly early music radio program, podcast and blog produced by WFIU Public Radio.

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