The Flute-Heaven of the Gods
The Royal Wind Music
The Flute-Heaven of the Gods (Der Goden Fluyt-hemel) is the title of the first anthology with instrumental works by various composers, published by the music printer Paulus Matthysz (1613/4-1684). He started his business ‘in ‘t Muzyk-boeck in de Stoof-steegh’ (‘The Music Book in the Stove Alley’), Amsterdam, in 1640, which was continued by his heirs, Alida and Maria Matthysz, from 1681 to circa 1720. Titles involving gods and mythological figures such as Apollo or Orpheus were often used and characterize the presence of the Antiquity as a trade language in the 17th century. Matthysz dedicated his collection to the female recorder player Adriana van den Bergh; the dedication has been dated Amsterdam, August I, I644. Matthysz praises Ms. van den Bergh’s playing on the recorder, stating that composers like Merula, Uccellini, and Buonamente would be very surprised by her abilities on the instrument.
Even more impressive are the improvisation and variation skills of the blind Dutch recorder player and carillonneur Jacob van Eyck (c1590-1657). Also printed by Matthysz, – at a time the paint of Rembrandt’s ‘The Nightwatch’ was barely dry -, van Eyck’s variations in the editions of Der Fluyten Lust-hof (‘The Flute’s Pleasure Garden’) represent the largest collection of music for a solo instrument in western history. This program can be considered a blue-print of 17th century compositional practice for which Jacob van Eyck used his melodies from the starting point. One of the most popular occupations for a musician during the 17th century was to create a new ‘version’ to a given melody. This could be achieved in different ways; by writing counterparts and thus adding polyphony, or by creating a new text to an existing melody thus creating a so-called contrafact. The pieces that have been based on an existing or newly composed melody can be identified as settings of psalms, songs and dance tunes. These tunes cover an important part of the immensely large repertory of melodies current in Dutch song and dance collections during the I7th century.
The oldest source of the French air de cour Est-ce Mars is ‘Bataille’, a vocal work with lute accompaniment from 1613. In the same year Pierre Guédron (c1570-c1620) – who is also regarded to be the lyricist of this composition – published a multi-voiced version in cooperation with the Parisian printer Pierre Ballard (c1577- 1639) in Second livre d’airs de cour à quatre & à cinq parties. The song was performed in Fontainebleau on November 17, 1613 as part of a ‘ballet for one of the three sisters of the twelve-year-old Louis XIII, performed in his and his mothers presence’:
Ballet de Madame, soeur du roy, devant le Roy et la Royne où sont représentez les Metéores, par quatorze Nymphes de Junon à Fontainebleau.
The melody was later popularized as ‘English mars’ or ‘Hesse mars’ and remained popular in The Netherlands, Germany and England. Numerous arrangements for keyboard were written by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Samuel Scheidt, Giles Farnaby (‘The New Sa-Hoo’) and for lute by Nicolas Vallet (c1583-c1642) in the first part of his Le secret des muses, Amsterdam, 1615. Another version of Est-ce Mars can be found in the Nederlandtsche gedenck-clanck (‘The Sound of Dutch Memories’) of 1626, a work which describes in words, pictures and songs the Dutch fight for independence against the Spaniards. It was compiled by Adrianus Valerius (c1570-1625), a prosperous merchant and amateur lutenist. Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck was not only a renowned organist, improviser and composer, but a gifted teacher as well. His Dutch pupils included talented dilettantes and young professional musicians. By the turn of the century, Sweelinck’s reputation attracted pupils from Germany such as Andreas Düben, Samuel and Gottfried Scheidt, as well as Jacob and Johannes Praetorius and Heinrich Scheidemann.
Both the German Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir and the English ‘Praise God, from whom all blessings flow’ version of Psalm 134 find their original melody source in the Genevan Psalter Pseaulmes octantetrois de David, mis en rime francoise from 1551, attributed to the composer and cantor Louis Bourgeois (c1510-1560). The melody probably dates back to a 15th-century secular chanson. It is widely known in many English-speaking Christian churches as the one used for the ‘Doxology’ (an invocation in praise of God that is often spoken or sung during Christian worship). In this form the melody is often referred to as the ‘Old 100th’. As late as in 1693 the Nuremberg organist Johann Pachelbel created an organ chorale, including contrapuntal diminutions over a cantus firmus, which appears in broad note values.
The Flemish lutenist and composer Emanuel Adriaensen published two large volumes of lute music, Pratum Musicum (1584) and Novum Pratum Musicum (1592).The Almande Prince is one of the earliest versions of the Dutch national anthem, the ‘Wilhelmus’. It is one of the oldest anthems in existence and the tune was known from before 1572 as a French Huguenot melody titled ‘Charles’. The tune, which constantly switches between two and three time, was further developed by Adrianus Valerius and included in his collection of national songs in 1626, the Nederlandtsche gedenck-clanck.
Like several other outstanding English musicians, William Brade left England around 1590 to follow a musical career in Germany. He sought employment between various courts in northern Germany and Denmark. In Berlin he published Neue lustige Volten, Couranten, Balletten, Padoanen, Galliarden, Masqueraden for five instruments in 1621. The collection includes two French courantes of which the origin is obscure. The first dance, also known as Orainge, is probably named after a French court figure named l’Orangée. L’Avignonne appears with some 20 spelling variants in several sources. As early as 1614 a ‘La Vignonne’ appeared among the Diverses pièces mises sur le luth par R. Ballard, Deuxiesme Livre published in Paris by the composer’s brother, the printer Pierre Ballard. The next surviving setting, a ‘L’avignonne’ in Nicolas Vallet’s Le secret des muses of 1615, was conceived for a wider audience of bourgeois amateurs, such as those whom Vallet instructed and entertained in Amsterdam.