Early Organ Composer Anniversaries in 2017

January 4, 2017

John Collins has been playing and researching early keyboard music for over 35 years, with special research interests in the English, Italian, and Iberian repertoires. He has contributed many reviews and articles on repertoire and performance practice, including translations and commentaries on treatises in German, Spanish, and Portuguese, to European and American journals, including The Diapason. He has been organist at St. George’s Church, Worthing, UK, since June 1984.

In 2017 the anniversaries of numerous composers can be commemorated, albeit some of their birth and death dates are not known for certain. Some names need no introduction, but there are also several lesser-known names here whose compositions are well worth exploring. No claim is made for completeness, and there is no guarantee that every edition is in print—there may well also be editions by other publishers. 

An increasing number of pieces, ranging from complete, original publications or manuscripts (which present the usual problems of multiple clefs and original printer’s errors) to modern versions of complete or individual works, can be found on various free download sites, most notably IMSLP. However, the accuracy of some modern typesettings is highly questionable, and all should be used with caution. 


Heinrich Isaac (ca. 1450–1517), a leading Flemish contemporary of Josquin, left much vocal and also some instrumental music. Some 19 intabulations of sacred and 27 of secular works exist, scattered among the tablatures of Bonifacius Amerbach—written mainly by Hans Kotter (edited by Hans Joachim Marx and published by Bärenreiter as Schweizerische Denkmäler, Volume 6), Fridolin Sicher (edited by Hans Joachim Marx and published by Amadeus as Schweizerische Denkmäler, Volume 8), Leonhard Kleber (edited by Karin Berg-Kotterba in two volumes in Das Erbe deutscher Musik, Bd. 91 and 92, published by Henry Litolff’s Verlag), August Nörmiger (no complete edition but some pieces in Organ Music of the Era of the Reformation, edited by J. H. Schmidt), and Clemens Hör (edited by Hans Joachim Marx and included in Schweizerische Denkmäler, Volume 6, and also published separately as Volume 7).


Pedro Alberch Vila (1517–82) served as organist of the cathedral of Barcelona. He published a Libro de Tientos but unfortunately no copies are known to have survived. Two Tientos were published in the Libro de Cifra Nueva in 1557 by Venegas de Henestrosa and are numbers XXXVIII and XXXIX in the modern edition La Música en la Corte de Carlos V edited in two volumes by Higínio Anglés for the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Barcelona. The music is in the second volume and, rather annoyingly, commentary, the prefaces, and contents are in volume I.


Bernhard Schmid der Jünger (ca. 1567–1625) lived in Strasbourg all his life, becoming organist of the cathedral. Instead of preparing a new edition of his father’s two tablature books of 1577 in 1607, he published his own Tablaturbuch containing 90 pieces. These are divided into 30 intonations on the eight tones by Giovanni (22) and Andrea Gabrieli (eight); six toccatas by the Gabrielis (two by Andrea, one by Giovanni), Diruta (two), and Merulo; 12 motet settings of from four to six voices; 16 canzonetta settings in four to six voices; 12 four-voice fugues or Canzoni alla Francese by Mortaro (three), Brignoli (two), and one each remaining anonymous, Soriano, Vecchi, Malvezzi, Maschera, Banchieri, and A. Gabrieli (his Canzon Ariosa); and 14 dances including two Pass’e mezzi (the second being by G. M. Radino and included in his book of 1592) and 12 Gagliardas, of which the first is by Hans Leo Hassler. The complete book has been edited by Willem Poot in five volumes for Interlude Music productions (I.M.P. 2021-2025). A facsimile has been published by Broude Bros. as Monuments of Music and Music Literature in Facsimile, I/20.


Melchior Schildt (ca. 1592–1667) studied with Sweelinck and became organist of the Hannover Marktkirche in 1629. His preserved organ works comprise a 5-verse setting of Herr Christ der einig Gottes Sohn, a setting for two manuals of Herzlieb lieb habe ich dich, a 5-verse setting of the Magnificat on the 1st Tone, two preludes, and a setting of Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’. These have been edited by Klaus Beckmann for Schott as Masters of the North German Organ School, Volume 5 (ED9585). Two variation sets on Gleichwie das Feuer and Dowland’s Lachrymae Pavan are included in Lied- und Tanzvariationen der Sweelinck-Schule, edited by Werner Breig for Schott (6030). 


Franz Tunder (1614–67) was probably born in Lübeck, where he became organist of the Marienkirche in 1641. Some 17 organ pieces have survived in various manuscripts, comprising five praeludia (one is just a five-bar fragment), a canzona for manuals only, and 11 lengthy chorale settings (Auf meinen lieben Gott is Auff 2 Clavier Manualiter, the rest require pedals) of which the first verse of Jesus Christus unser Heiland opens with a pedal solo moving into double pedals beneath three manual parts. Fifteen pieces have been edited by Klaus Beckmann for Breitkopf & Härtel (EB8825). He has also edited the chorale fantasias on Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, and Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott in Zwei Choralfantasien for Breitkopf & Härtel (EB8576), previously attributed to Heinrich Scheidemann by Jerzy Golos and Adam Sutykowski for the American Institute of Musicology as Corpus of Early Keyboard Music (CEKM) 10, Keyboard Music from Polish Manuscripts, (Volume II). 


Johann Jakob Froberger (1616–67) spent much time as court organist in Vienna. He was one of the most influential keyboard composers of the second half of the seventeenth century, as his wide-ranging travels took him to France, England, and Italy. His large output comprises free-form and contrapuntal pieces as well as over 50 dance suites, surviving in many sources including four autograph volumes (a recently discovered one is not accessible, and two have been lost). The three surviving autographs of 1649, 1656, and 1658 contain among them 12 toccatas, 12 ricercars, 12 capricci, six fantasias, six canzonas, and 12 suites of dance movements, with several more pieces in each category as well as single dances, tombeaux, and lamentations from other manuscripts being reliably attributed to the canon. Pieces were included in publications from 1693 onwards, but many contain a corrupt and unreliable presentation of the text.

Siegbert Rampe has edited for Bärenreiter the keyboard pieces in six volumes. Volume 1 is devoted to the 1649 autograph, Volume 2 to the 1656 and 1658 autographs, Volumes 3 and 4 to partitas (suites) from copied sources, Volume 5 to toccatas and polyphonic works from copied sources, and Volume 6 to new readings and new pieces from newly discovered sources (Volumes 3–6 are each in two parts). A seventh volume includes the vocal music and a catalogue of Froberger’s output. An appraisal of the autograph manuscripts plus a list of each volume’s contents and of the works by genre and volume will appear in a future issue of The Diapason.


Nikolaus Hasse (1617–72), born in Lübeck, succeeded David Abel as organist in Rostock in 1642. In addition to chamber music, he left a few organ compositions. Four chorale settings for organ on Allein Gott in der Hoh’ sei Ehr’, Jesus Christus unser Heiland (one setting for manuals only and one for three manuals) and Komm, heiliger Geist, Herr Gott (for two manuals) are preserved in the Pelpin Tablatures and have been edited by Klaus Beckmann for Breitkopf & Härtel (EB6715) and also by Jerzy Golos and Adam Sutykowski for the American Institute of Musicology as CEKM 10 Keyboard Music from Polish Manuscripts, Volume I, which also includes a setting of Allein Gott in der Hoh’ sei Ehr’ by a composer known only as Ewaldt. 


Christian Witt (1660–1717) studied with Georg Wecker in Nuremberg and became court organist at Altenburg. His compositions include vocal and instrumental music, but unfortunately much keyboard music seems to have been lost. His preserved compositions include a chorale prelude on Herr Christ der einig Gottes Sohn, edited by Gotthold Frotscher and included in the series Das Erbe deutscher Musik Reichsdenkmale, Band 9, Orgel Choräle um Johann Sebastian Bach, published by Henry Litolff’s Verlag. A prelude on Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland was edited in the 19th century by G. W. Körner in Der Orgelfreund, viii. A capriccio in the style of a sarabande is included in Keyboard Music from the Andreas-Bach Book and the Möller Manuscript, a modern edition by Robert Hill, published by Harvard University Department of Music. A modern edition of 12 pieces in two volumes edited by Laura Cerutti (Armelin AMM026 and AMM053) contains two suites, in A major and A minor, a sinfonia in D, a Ciacona con Fuga in E minor, a suite in C, a praeludium in G, a Partie in C, a menuet in G, a Passegalie with 30 variations in D minor, a fugetta [sic] in G, and two fugues in F and G. Witt’s fugues in D minor, E minor, and the Prelude and Fugue in D are included in The Mylau Tabulaturbuch: Forty Selected Compositions, edited by John Shannon for the American Institute of Musicology  (CEKM 39). A complete critical edition is much to be desired.


Daniel Purcell (ca. 1664–1717), the younger brother of Henry, composed much stage, sacred, and secular vocal music as well as some instrumental works. His few keyboard pieces include a suite in D minor published in A collection of lessons and airs. . . . 1702, a toccata in A minor that was included in The 2d. Book of The Lady’s Entertainment or Banquet of Musick (1708), facsimile available from Broude Bros. (PF205), together with the first book in Seventeenth Century Keyboard Music, Volume 17, edited by Alexander Silbiger for Garland Press. His Psalms set full for Organ or Harpsichord was published in 1718 as an addition to the Harpsichord Master Improved. . . with a choice collection of newest and most air’y lessons with a variety of passages by Mr. Babel, and reprinted separately in 1731, facsimile of the latter available from Broude Bros. (PF264). 


Johann Christoph Pepusch (1667–1752) was born in Berlin. Like Handel, he settled in London during the early eighteenth century and became one of the founders of the Academy of Ancient Music. After about 1728 he gave up composition (with works for stage and church music as well as chamber music) and became renowned as a teacher (his pupils included Boyce, Green, and Roman). In 1737 he became organist of the Charterhouse and left a voluntary, which is found in a manuscript now in the Royal Academy. This is unique in having no fewer than 12 movements, possibly intended to be played at the opening of an organ to demonstrate the stops. An opening Largo and concluding Allegro frame movements for specified registrations for solo stops. Modern editions are by David Byers for Universal Edition (UE18603) and by David Sanger for Oxford University Press. Other movements attributed to Pepusch are included in manuscripts in the British Library and Royal College of Organists Library.


Georg Philipp Telemann (1681–1767), born in Magdeburg, worked in Leipzig and Frankfurt before settling in Hamburg in 1721. A most prolific composer across all genres, of his many keyboard pieces those more suitable to the organ include Forty-Eight Chorale Preludes (two settings: one in three voices, one in two for each of 24 chorales) and settings of Nun komm der Heiden Heiland and Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein edited by Traugott Fedke and published as Orgelwerke Volume I by Bärenreiter (BA3581) and the Twenty Little Fugues, a sonata for two manuals and pedal in D, two fughettas in F and D and a fantasia in D also edited by Traugott Fedke and published as Orgelwerke Volume II by Bärenreiter (BA3582). A set of Fugues légères et petits jeux à clavessin seul consists of six fugues, each followed by several short pieces; a performance on appropriately light registers could work well. The set has been edited by Martin Lange for Bärenreiter (BA268).


Pere Rabassa (1683–1767) was born in Barcelona and worked at the cathedrals of Vic, Valencia, and Seville. Two tocatas have been tentatively assigned to him by one editor—although anonymous in the manuscript, they follow a four-movement sonata ascribed to him. These include a Tocata de mano derecha de 8 Tono ad libitum in four movements and a rare example of a Tocata de ecos y contraecos para clarines de mano derecha de 5 Tono which requires use of an enclosed second manual. These have been edited by Agueda Pedrero-Encabo in Vicente Rodríguez’s Obres per a orgue (the second piece she ascribes to Rodríguez without reference and also suggests Rabassa as composer of a four-movement Tocata de 5 Tono punto alto included in this volume).


Nicola Antonio Porpora (1686–1768), born and died in Naples, worked in Rome, London, and Venice, and was principally known for his operas and church music. Seven fugues were included in Clementi’s Selection of Practical Harmony for the Organ or Piano-Forte published 1803–15 (the seventh piece, in E-flat was published by Johann Albrechtsberger as Fugue III, op. 7) and have been edited by Maurizio Machella for Armelin (CM002). 


Georg Monn (1717–50) was choirmaster and organist of the Karlskirche, Vienna. He composed Masses, oratorios, some 16 symphonies, chamber music, concertos, and keyboard music. Three Preludes and Fugues for organ or stringed keyboard instruments in G minor, G, and F have been edited by Franz Haselböck for Doblinger, Diletto Musicale (DM822) and a Preludio & Fuga in A Minor and a Fuga in C have been edited by Erich Benedikt and included in Viennese Organ Music from around 1750 for Doblinger, Diletto Muiscale (DM1335). A set of preludes and versets on the eight tones has been edited by Rudolph Walter for Butz Verlag (BUTZ1825). 


Carlo Lancellotti (ca. 1717–82) was born in Rimini, where he became organist of the cathedral. He left 11 one-movement sonatas (six Allegros and five Adagios) in a manuscript, which have been edited by Maurizio Machella for Armelin (AMM143).


Justin Heinrich Knecht (1752–1817) was a Lutheran preceptor and music director in Biberach. He became organist at the Martinkirche in 1792 and was employed in Stuttgart from 1806 to 1808. He left numerous compositions for church and stage as well as a few chamber pieces. He also left theoretical treatises for clavier and on numerous other subjects as well as many sets of organ pieces. Pieces available in modern editions include Selected Organ Works edited by Martin Haselböck and Daniel Schlee for Universal Orgel Edition (UE17469). Three pieces in D major including a Capriccio, Cantabile and Nachspiel, have been edited by Willem Poot for Interlude Music Publications (I.M.P.2005). Eberhard Hofmann has edited Ausgewählte Orgelwerke for Sonat Verlag (MR5.098.00), who also publish a set of 16 Orgelstücke in den gebräuchlichsten Dur-Tonarten (MR5.215.00) and 14 Orgelstücke in den gebräuchlichsten Moll-Tonarten (MR.5.216.00), both sets taken from Caecilia. These two sets have been edited by Andre Maisch for Edition Kunzelmann (GM664a and 664b). A set of three volumes of selected pieces has been edited by Wolfram Syré for Forberg Edition (F25033-5). Die durch ein Donnerwetter unterbrochne Hirtenwonne has been edited by Heinz W. Höhnen for Breitkopf & Härtel (EB8364). The 15 items, each frequently subdivided into several pieces, from the Vollständige Orgelschule für Anfänger und Geübtere—Abteilung I-III (1795–8), are available in facsimile from Breitkopf & Härtel (BV256). Martin Haselböck and Daniel Schlee have edited and published separately no. 4 from Abteilung I, Die Auferstehung Jesu, ein Tongemälde für die Orgel, Universal Edition (UE17159). The three sections of the Anhang zu Württemberg Choralbuche containing 84 short preludes in various keys, a further 72 preludes and 24 organ pieces, are also available in facsimile from Maltzahn’scher Musikverlag, (MMV10010–12). The firm has also published a facsimile of the first of the eight volumes of the Neue vollständige Sammlung aller Arten Vor- und Nachspielen u.a.1791–5 (MMV10001). The Sonata in C and Three Fugues in B-flat (on B-A-C-H), C minor and G have been edited by Michael Ladenburger for Doblinger (DM843 and 844, respectively). Willem van Twillert has edited six chorale preludes in Organisten uit de 18e en 19e eeuw 9 published by Willemsen (Wil912) and nine pieces for manuals only including four rondos, a set of variations, a 4-voice fugue, a Handstück, a Cantabile and a setting of Liebster Jesu in Organisten uit de 18e en 19e eeuw 14, also published by Willemsen (Wil1086). Organisten uit de 18e en 19e eeuw 2 (Wil742) in this series contains three pieces by Knecht and an anonymous Giga and Pastorale. W. B. Henshaw has edited Six Short Pieces for Bardon Enterprises (BE00559). 


Vincenzo Benatti (1767–97) is little known. His compositions that have come down to us include three volumes of organ pieces (23 pieces total) that have been edited by Carlo Benatti for Armelin (AMM219–221), Composizioni inedite per organo o clavicembalo. Volume 1 contains a pastorale, a sinfonia, a Sinfonia e Polacca, and an Allegro. Volume 2 contains 11 sonatas, a rondo, a Marcia, a finale, and an Introduzione. Volume 3 contains four sonatas, of which the first is in three movements, the others in just one. 


August Eberhard Müller (1767–1817) studied with J. C. F. Bach and became organist in Leipzig. He left numerous compositions for keyboard, and six of the pieces in Sammlung von Orgelstücken, enthaltend zwölf leichte und sechs schwerer Sätze (Erste Heft 1798) have been edited by Anne Marlene Gurgel in Leipziger Musik aus der Thomaskirche, Band 1 for Butz Verlag (1492).


Also deserving of mention is the 500th anniversary of the publication of Frottole Intabulate da Sonari Organi by Andrea Antico in Rome in January 1517, the oldest printed volume to consist exclusively of keyboard music. Its 26 settings are available in a modern edition by Christopher Hogwood for Zen-On Music and by Maria Luisa Baldassari from Ut Orpheus (ES69). A facsimile is available from Forni Editions. Another very good resource is www.bodensee-musikversand.de/, especially for many German, Austrian, and Swiss publishers.


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