John Collins - Organist, Harpsichordist Iberian Musicologist, Translator


In 2012 there are several composers whose anniversaries can be commemorated. There are several lesser-known names here whose compositions are well worth exploring.

Giovanni Gabrieli 1557-1612 One of the leading Venetian composers of the late Renaissance, his 38 keyboard pieces comprise a set of Intonations, 12 Toccatas, 11 ricercars, 3 fantasias, 2 fugas and 9 canzonas. They are edited by Dalla Libera for Ricordi in three volumes; volume three contains thirteen keyboard settings of motets, many more were made by German composers but are not available in modern editions.

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck 1562-1621 Organist of the Oude Kirck Amsterdam and a seminal influence on North German organ music in the 17th century through his pupils. His authenticated keyboard works include some 17 toccatas, 24 fantasias, 1 ricercar, 12 sets of chorale and psalm variations and 12 sets of dance and song variations, with several more works in each category considered of doubtful attribution. Two recent complete editions include Harald Vogel and Pieter Dirksen for Breitkopf & Härtel in 4 volumes, and Siegbert Rampe for Bärenreiter in 8 volumes. A most useful guide is Pieter Dirksen’s book “The keyboard music of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck” in which the pieces are discussed in depth.

Hans Leo Hassler 1564-1612 Primarily known today for his vocal music, he studied organ in Venice with Andrea Gabrieli and became a leading player in Augsburg. He left a substantial corpus of keyboard works of considerable scope and length, most of it preserved in the Turin MSS, including 8 toccatas, 18 ricercari, 18 canzone, 14 magnificats, an organ mass, 4 fugues and 2 sets of variations. A good selection, as well as the variations on Ich ging einmal spazieren, was edited by Georges Kiss for Schott and Sons. The toccatas were edited by S. Stribos for the American Institute of Musicology and the magnificats by A. Carpenè for il Levante Libreria. A few other pieces from other MSS sources have been included in various anthologies. 25 of the 39 intabulated songs from his Lustgarten of 1601 have been edited by M.Böcker for Breitkopf & Härtel The complete works from the Turin MSS are available in two volumes edited by W.Thein and U.Wethmuller for Breitkopf & Härtel, but at about £200 each they will remain well outside the reach of most players.

Wolfgang Ebner 1612-65 Organist of St. Stephen’s cathedral, Vienna, and court organist, contemporary with Froberger. Three works certainly by him include three toccatas, a courante, a capriccio sopra L’aria Pergamasco, the Partite sopra l’Aria Favorita with seven variations, and the 36 variations divided into three groups of 12 (the second and third groups being in the form of a courante and sarabande) on an Aria in A minor composed by Ferdinand III. Works of uncertain authenticity include 56 versets encompassing various forms ie toccata, capriccio, fugue, in the eight church modes (eight of which are variants of pieces by Froberger, and one by Frescobaldi), two preludes, a partita in A and eight individual dance movements. Published by Bärenreiter in 2 volumes edited by Siegbert Rampe, that also include keyboard works by Georg Muffat.

Wolfgang Briegel 1626-1712 Organist in Gotha and Darmstadt, he left a few keyboard pieces in MS. The eight fugues in the Church Tones are for manuals only and were edited by Wilhelm Krumbach for Kistner and Siegel as Die Orgel: Reihe ii nr. 19.

Lambert Chaumont ca 1630-1712 Organist in Huys, southern Belgium, in 1695 he published a set entitled Pièces d’orgue sur les 8 tons, each of which opens with a prelude followed by about 12-15 pieces in the usual French style. There are also two fine chaconnes, as well as a few dance movements clearly intended for harpsichord. He also provides useful information on registration and ornamentation as well as a short treatise on accompaniment and a tuning method for the harpsichord. Jean Ferrard has edited these pieces for Heugel.

Sebastian Scherer 1631-1712 Organist of Ulm cathedral, in 1664 he published a print in two parts, the first being a set of four versets on the eight church tones notated on a two-stave system of six and eight lines respectively, of which the first and third are toccata-like, the first having held pedal notes, the second and fourth are fugal. The second contains eight substantial toccatas printed on four staves, one to each “part”. Each is multi-sectional with long-held pedal notes, and shows the influence of Frescobaldi. The two parts have been edited by A.Guilmant.

Juan Baptista Cabanilles 1644-1712 Organist of Valencia cathedral, and regarded as the greatest of the Spanish baroque composers for keyboard, who left well over 200 tientos, including examples of falsas, contras (which utilise sequential repetition over long pedal points for the pedals), medio registro/partido (ie for divided registers used as a solo in one or more voices), lleno (ie for the same stops used for the entire compass)a number of dances, toccatas, batallas and almost 1000 versos. None of his works were published in his lifetime, but MSS copies were made, mainly by Elías, and his other pupils. Most of the nine volumes of his tientos so far published include a mixture of the partido and lleno tientos. The contents of volume two are more varied with three llenos, one partido, five passacalles, five gallardas in duple time with extensive sets of variations, two batallas (one of which is by Kerll), four paseos, folias, a xacara, a pedazo de musica, a gaitilla which is partido and six toccatas (one of which is partido). The nine volumes are all published by the Biblioteca de Catalunya, Barcelona.

Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow 1663-1712 Organist in Halle and teacher of Handel, he left some 53 chorale preludes including a splendid set of 12 variations on Jesu meine Freude, the great majority of which are playable on one manual and do not require pedals, and 13 secular pieces including preludes, fugues, fantasia, capriccio and a suite in B minor. There are modern editions by Heinz Lohmann for Breitkopf & Härtel, and Klaus Beckmann for Schott

Johann Hanff 1665-1712 Organist in Hamburg and Schleswig, only three cantatas and six chorale preludes survive in MSS. Five of the six are in the Buxtehdue style with highly ornamented melodies in the rh, but in Erbarm dich mein two verses are set, the second opening with a fugue based on the descending chromatic fourth before reverting to rh solo of the ornamented melody. They have been edited by E.Kooiman for Harmonia Uitgave.

Johann-Jakob de Neufville 1684-1712 This regrettably short-lived organist in Nuremberg published one volume of keyboard pieces in 1708, the contents of which show clearly the influence of his teacher Pachelbel. It includes 5 Arias with variations, three of which require pedals, and a splendid Ciacona in B minor. A suite in G minor is preserved in MS. A complete modern edition has been edited by Raimund Schächer for Pro Organo Musikverlag.

Joseph Torner 1700-62 Organist in Trier, he published at least two collections of liturgical pieces, comprising eight sets, each consisting of Offertorium, Elevatio and Communio in binary form , and miscellaneous Toccatas, arias and dance pieces. The 1730 print which contained pieces in major keys, is presumed lost, but the 1735 print with the liturgical pieces in minor keys from A to G and A major has been edited by Hans-Peter Bähr in two volumes for Dr. J.Butz Musikverlag.

Johann Eberlin 1702-62 Organist in Augsburg, he published nine toccatas for organ in two movements, the second being a well-wrought fugue or double fugue, edited by Rudolph Walter for Coppenrath (now available through Carus Verlag) and two sets of versets (65 and 115) on the eight church tones which are edited by Rudolph Walter for Verlag Doblinger. The pedal parts are limited to long held notes and these pieces make excellent material for clavichord. The 65 versets offer excellent practice in playing relatively short contrapuntal works and also include some challenging preludes and finales. He also published two sonatas, which sound well on any keyboard instrument. These are edited by Laura Cerutti for Armelin Musica.

Pietro Chiarini 1712-77 Organist in Cremona, six of his pieces are found in a MS compiled by G.Poffa. They include two allegros (both through-compose, the first one headed con violincello, cornetti e tromboncini in risposta), a marcia, a sinfonia in three movements and two sonatas, the first through-composed in one movement, the second a substantial work in there movements concluding with a minuetto) which have been edited by F.Caporali for Armelin Musica in Musica per Tastiera del ‘700 Cremonense, which also contains pieces by Calamani and Galli.

John Stanley 1712-86 Organist of the Temple church, published three sets of ten voluntaries each including examples of both the “1st voluntary” for solo stops and the “2nd voluntary” in the form of prelude and fugue. Two sets of concerti (six as op 2 and ten as op 10 respectively) for harpsichord or organ were also published in versions for solo keyboard performance. Contemporary MSS also contain several arrangements of movements from his two sets of solos for melody instrument and also from his concerti. There are several modern editions of the three sets of voluntaries, all 30 being edited in one volume by G.Lewin for Greg Lewin Music, who has also edited (in two volumes) the six concerti for keyboard. A facsimile of the set of ten concerti has been edited by G.Gifford for Oxford University Press. In volumes three and four of English organ Music – an anthology, published by Novello, Robin Langley has edited early versions from the Reading MSS of some of the voluntaries that were printed in the three sets and of voluntaries in the Southgate MS.

Johann Sperger 1750-1812 Organist in Ludwigslust, he was one of the leading double-bass players of his day and left many symphonies and chamber pieces. Two collections of his organ pieces preserved in MSS in Schwerin have been edited in one volume by Dieter Ultzen for Dr. J. Butz Musikverlag. The first collection is actually a selection of the preludes and versets printed in 1689 in Wegweiser followed by four short fugues, the second is a series of preludes in various keys which reflect the Classical and Rococo influence; many of them consist of decorative figuration over sustained chords.

Carlo Gervasoni 1762-1819 Maestro di capella in Borgotara in which town he oversaw the construction of a fine organ in 1795. Well known in his day for this theoretical works, including notes on organ performance practice, particularly on instruments with several manuals, he also left some organ sonatas. The lezioni from the Scuola della musica of 1800 have been edited by M.Machella for Armelin.

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© John Collins 2013