Essay on The Staggering Number of Styles and Genres of Lutheran Church Music



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Lutheran church music in its first two and a half centuries can be characterized by the incorporation of a staggering variety of styles and musical genres. Plainchant, imitative polyphony, and chorale hymnody existed alongside one another, and composers such as Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672) and Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630) were among the first to synthesize elements of Monteverdi’s seconda pratica with a fully German practice. Fruits of this multi-style crosspollination, whether a continuo based melodic-harmonic framework, polychoral textures, use of the solo voice or obligato instruments, all paved the way for the apex of this tradition, the concerted vocal works of J.S. Bach. The introduction of many of these Italianate elements can be traced back in part to the multitude of motet anthologies which appeared in the first decades of the seventeenth century. The most influential and enduring of these, compiled and edited by Erhard Bodenschatz, brought composers such as Lassus, Marenzio, and Giovanni Gabrieli into widespread use within Lutheran churches. Bodenschatz’s 1618 and 1621 motet anthologies, both titled Florilegium Portense, enjoyed widespread use well into the eighteenth century during Bach’s tenure in Leipzig. The 1618 Florilegium contains 115 works mostly by German composers from four to eight voices, a listing of which is shown in Table 1-1. The 1621 Florilegium reflects the growing trend in the second and third decade of the seventeenth century of these anthologies to include a greater number of works by Italian composers. Less than half

Table 1-1 – Bodenschatz Chronology

of the 150 motets in 1621 anthology are by German composers, as compared to the …

…s name, for the splendor of the church, and for the education of young people.” Yet perhaps as a further sign of the rift between Bodenschatz and his teacher, Calvisius, the stated purpose of the 1621 Florilegium notably leaves out any reference to use for students. It is instead offered as a source for music for the entire church year. Despite the apparent turning away from Calvisius and the Schulppforta, Bodenschatz owed the foundation of many of his successful projects to the work of his teacher. Bodenschatz’s indebtedness to the school itself it revealed in the title of both works “Florilegium Portense” (“Flowers of Schulpforta”). Chaney noted that though only two works by Calvisius are included in the 1621 Florilegium, they surround on either side the sole motet by Bodenschatz, perhaps as a sign of gratitude for the main contributor of his most famous work.


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