The »Florum Jessaeorum« Collection (Nürnberg 1607) of Daniel Lagkhner

  • Jože Sivec


From the compositional work of Daniel Lagkhner (Lackner), born in Maribor (Marburg) in Styria in the latter half of the 16th century and already before 1600 active as a musician with baron Losenstein at Loosdorf in Lower Austria, only two complete collections – »Soboles musica, id est Cantiones sacrae 4, 5, 6, 7 et 8 v.« (Nürnberg 1602) and »Flores Jessaei musicus modulis fere tribus paribus adaptati« (Nürnberg 1606) – have survived after the last war. The collection »Florum Jessaeorum semina vocibus quatuor per musicos numeros disseminata« (Nürnberg 1607) is no longer complete, because the only complete copy – the one from the archive of St. Mary's Church in Elbing – has been lost. Only individual part-books remain preserved in various depositories. Among the 31 compositions dealing with biblical sentences in Latin prose only No.-s I–VII, XI, XII, XIX, XX and XXI appear to be complete whereas with all the others the cantus is missing. The find-places of individual parts are as follows: alto and tenor in Torun (Biblioteka Uniwersytecka), tenor and cantus in Växjö (Stifts- och Landsbiblioteket), and tenor and bass in Wolfenbüttel (Herzog-August-Bibliothek). The collection is composed for different vocal combinations so that the position of voices varies from composition to composition. A number of compositions reflect an explicitly low register, doubtlessly intended for mixed chorus or rather ensembles of male and boys' voices, whereas others are written for higher voices and ad aequales. Among the modes used we find all contemporary modes, especially the ionian, followed by the dorian, aeolian and mixolydian. One composition only is in the Phrygian mode. Considering the fact that harmonies are deeply rooted in diatonics, because of which the functional role of chords remains in the background, one is surprised by modulations or rather modulatory deviations closer to the newer harmonic style. Modulations appear usually towards the end of individual sections, mostly into the dominant, sometimes also into the parallel tonic and subdominant. The compositional structure is predominantly polyphonic so that chords result mostly from simultaneous melodic lines. To achieve unity Lagkhner very often makes use of imitation with which he introduces individual sections of each composition. Of course, homophony is there too, but confining itself to short chordal blocks or appearing (this being a typical practice of the day) in those sections that were a result of the use of tripartite measure and longer note values. In spite of the prevailing polyphony the musical sound seems to be full enough for the simlutaneous flow of melodic lines resulting mostly in chords in the fifth and in the sixth. The massiveness of texture is supported by harmonic cadencing which, relatively frequently creates the impression of formal clearness. This vertical articulation is all the more apparent for many a time all the voices of a section come to end together – so that the beginning of the following is clearly marked off by a perceivable caesura. In respect of the compositional technique Lagkhner's works appear to be fairly perfect, for there are hardly any clumsy progressions or awkwardnesses in the flow of parts. On the whole, the progression of parts is smooth and elegant. Lagkhner seems to have striven to follow the principles of classical poliphony. Persistently he evaded unallowed progressions as well as a freer use of dissonance, keeping out of the way of even smaller deviations from strict contemporary norms. Even the modelling of melodies is in keeping with the strict rules of counterpoint. Here, similarly to the diatonic harmony, the composer's restraint comes to the fore. Expressive and affective formative trends, typical of the early baroque, were alien to him. Augmented and diminished intervals are thus rather scarce. The melodic movement is mostly gradual and flowing, and partly within a rather broad diapazon. Gradual as well singable progressions are not unusual also in the bass part. The use of long runs of melisms is also typical. The melodic line becomes thus partly agitated and disturbingly ornamented in a baroque way. The compositions of this collection approach mostly the form of the motet. This definition is founded not only in the repetition of individual parts but especially in the character of the latter as well as in their polyphonic and non-strophic, bi- or tripartite structure. Stylistically, Lagkhner follows the polyphonic tradition of the high renaissance. Transformations, leading Italian music into early baroque, do not seem to have infected these short, mostly unpretentious compositions. This rather conservative orientation m the field of church music around 1600 is not surprising, being rather typical of the catholic as well as of the protestant side. Affectively accentuated, early baroque style came to the fore in religious music only after 1610. It appears that the rather modest compositional framework did not allow Lagkhner to make a wider use of contemporary means of composition already at hand at his time. In spite of that it has to be concluded that the collection in question, though rather average as regards quality, comprises a number of technically well written compositions lacking neither in expressiveness nor in artistic message.


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How to Cite
SivecJ. (1976). The »Florum Jessaeorum« Collection (Nürnberg 1607) of Daniel Lagkhner. Musicological Annual, 12(1), 5-15.