Isaac Posch's Instrumental Collection Musicalische Ehrenfreudt (1618)

  • Metoda Kokole


Musicalische Ehrenfreudt is the earliest and the least known collection of the Carinthian composer Isaac Posch (?-1622/23). The print came out in Regensburg in 1618. It contains 49 four-part compositions written in the tradition of contemporary South German ensemble suites and Italian lute suites of the preceding century. The four balletas that open the collection were meant to accompany the aristocratic meals, while the rest of the compositions (groups of three dances: gagliarda/couranta - tanz - proportio) could be performed also for dancing afterwards. The article gives different aspects of the above mentioned dance-forms, describing their historical development until Posch's time, defining their formal characteristics, showing their ambiguous modal or harmonical structure, suggesting possible instrumentation and performance solutions, including an attempt at the reconstruction of the dances' choreographic function. It further gives a comparison of Posch's suite-like formations with the similarly structured suites contained in the collections of Johannes Thesselius (1609), Paul Peuerl (1611) and Johann Hermann Schein (1617). All movements within each of these suites are in the same tonality and use consistent numbering and groupings of dances. The succession of dances is based on a contrast between duple and triple metre which at the same time creates an alternation of slow paced and fast movements. The starting point is the dance (tanz) - after dance (proportio) relationship, where the original dance is turned into another solely by the manipulation of metre and note values. Proportios are not therefore, except for their choreographic elements, analyzed individually. Tanz, a movement with a clear chordal structure in predominantly two sections figures as a theme, which is, somewhat curiously, placed in the middle of the suites. By comparison with such pieces by other contemporary composers the compositional style of Posch's dances shows more advanced features. Some of them are in three sections and others again contain fast scale passages and imitative figurations. The dancing itself can be reconstructed according to the preserved descriptions of allemandes. The relation of a theme to the gagliardas and courantas lies predominantly in the opening melodic subject which reappears modified in a more or less imitative manner. Most frequent are imitations in the upper two parts, while there are also examples of imitative passages in all four voices. Posch's courantas are close to a fast Italian type called corrente. Although Posch did not give any specific instrumentation for his ensemble pieces, mentioning as preferable all string instruments (Instrumentalisches Säytenspielen), a relatively frequent indication of two violin clefs for the cantus and altus, an alto c-clef for the tenor and the bass clef for the bassus imply the use of the relatively new family of violins. The writing itself and the compass of separate voices confirm this. As far as the term 'variation suites' - however widely used to designate Posch's groups of dances - is concerned the present article concludes that its use is unjustified as in more than half of Posch's groups there is no trace of either rhythmic or melodic connection within all three dances of his suites.


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How to Cite
KokoleM. (1996). Isaac Posch’s Instrumental Collection Musicalische Ehrenfreudt (1618). Musicological Annual, 32(1), 5-50.