The »FLORES JESSAEI« Collection by Daniel Lagkhner (Lackner)

  • Jože Sivec


The collection »Flores Jessaei, musicis modulis & fere tribus paribus adaptati« of Daniel Lagkhner (Lackner) was printed by Paul Kauffmann in Nürnberg in 1606, where at the beginning of the 17th century all other collections of the same author were published. The only existing copy is to be found in the Von Schermarsche Familienstiftung in Ulm, whereas the copy from the archives of Saint Mary's Church in Elbling was destroyed during the war. The collection is dedicated to Dr. Bierdtimphel, a Vienna doctor and the composer's patron. It contains 28 short compositions on sayings from the Bible, written for three voices – suprema, media and infima. A considerable portion is ad aequales, intended for high boys' voices. Among the ad aequales compositions No. XIII is an exception, since it is written for low male voices: two tenors and one bass. The other group consists of compositions which, apart from boys' or rather female voices, for the performance of the lower part extending down to C requires also tenors. The compositional structure is markedly polyphonic, where imitation or rather »durch«-imitation play an important role. Imitation is present in every single composition, comprising usually two if not even three of its sections. Sequential repetition and modification of the theme are sometimes bound to imitation, with which organic development as well as unity of the composition are achieved. Similar to imitation is the technique of exchanging parts (Stimmtausch), used at the beginning of the last two compositions. Also those passages which are not based "on imitation are prevailingly polyphonic and built in a free contrapuntal way. The harmony, as far as it appears, is bound to triple and only exceptionally to double mesure. The most frequent order of incipits is: suprema, media, infima. In spite of the advantage of the suprema at the beginning more than three quarters of all compositions have the nota finalis with its preceding half-tone in the middle part. Among the modes used the jonian and the dorian ones have precedence. One composition belongs to the eolian and mixolydian mode, whereas another one is aeolio-phrygian. Diatonics prevail and only here and there those chromatic tones, typical of the strict polyphonic idiom, are to be found. Modulatory divergences to the dominant in a rather more recent harmonic sense are not rare. Apart from that, some compositions or rather some of their sections tend towards major and minor, which gives proof to the fact that the trend towards the new tonal feeling was well under way. The melodies are predominantly syllabic and often bound to short note values and, here and there, to the repetition of tones. However, shorter or longer me-lisms are to be found as well. The melisms are usually of an abstract musical nature, and only in a few cases the author used them for tone painting or the expressive emphasis. The melodies are nearly always in keeping with the rules of the strict counterpoint. This kind of melodic formation, in agreement with strong diatonic harmony and with very cautious treatment of the dissonance, reveals that new expressive tendencies which were coming to the fore already in the latter half of the 16th century did not leave more visible traces in the discussed compositions of Lagkhner. In the introduction the author says that he wrote his compositions in the way of villanellas. The fact that villanellas were popular not only in Italy but also in the German countries, explains their modelling appearance also in the field of religious music. Already in 1586, in Rome two volumes of the »Diletto spirituale« collection were printed, containing canzonettas, cognate with villanellas, on religious texts in Latin and Italian. In 1591 and 1594 the German composer Adam Gumpelzhaimer published »Neue deutsche geistliche Lieder nach Art der welschen Villanellen« in three parts and »Neue deutsche geistliche Lieder nach Art der welschen Canzonen« in four parts. Whether Lagkhner knew of this or of some other related collections is not documented, thought it is not impossible. His statement regarding the way of composing stands only for the formal scheme (ABC or rather AB with repetitions) and for the three-part structure most common with the villanella. On the other hand, his choral compositions differ from the popular Italian form already as regards the text, Latin biblical prose. Unlike the villanellas they have a strong polyphonic structure and reflect rather serious expressiveness, similar to that of the motet. Although the villanella became more artificial in the latter half of the 16th century and adopted some polyphonic elements, it retained more or less cheerful and folk-like expressiveness as well as rhythmical liveliness. Compositions approaching the villanella are only those numbered XXIV to XXVIII. Much more useful, though rather general, is the definition in the sense of the tricinium which, in the narrower sense of historical terminology, comprises the protestant religious as well as secular repertoire of three-part vocal compositions of the 16th and early 17th century. As far as our knowledge of Daniel Lagkhner's output goes, the collection »Flores Jessaei« appears to be the most modest part of his opus. Considering the fact that we are dealing with little pieces in which the author had to take into consideration restricted means of performance, it is quite understandable that his inventiveness and creative abilities could not flourish as they might have in a more favourable context. This in itself does not provide a satisfactory explanation for the rather conservative style of this collection which appeared soon after 1600. The reason is to be sought in the rather conservative orientation of contemporary protestant and catholic church music. The compositions represent thus an older type of the tricinium, popular in the form of even parts, as used in the protestant repertoire ever since G. Rhaw (1542). It differs thus from the newer type, which is becoming more and more of a duet of upper voices over the bass and evolves thus into the early baroque vocal concerto with continuo.


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How to Cite
SivecJ. (1978). The »FLORES JESSAEI« Collection by Daniel Lagkhner (Lackner). Musicological Annual, 14(1), 19-34.