‹‹ JSCM Issues

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Volume 16 (2010) No. 1

Editing Music in Early Modern Germany. By Susan Lewis Hammond. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007. [xvii, 265p. ISBN-13: 9780754655732. $99.95] Illustrations, bibliographic references, index.

Reviewed by John Kmetz*

1. Introduction

2. Collectors and Collecting

3. Crediting the Editor

4. Working for a Local Clientele

5. Italian Music for German Consumers


1. Introduction

1.1 As the book’s dust jacket accurately states, Editing Music in Early Modern Germany is without any doubt “the first comprehensive study devoted to editors as a distinct group within the network of printers, publishers, musicians, and composers that brought the madrigal to northern audiences.” In the decades around 1600, German nobility, well-heeled merchants and patricians of Germany’s urban elite, professional musicians, university students, and their teachers were all beguiled by the new sounds of Italian vernacular music produced by such composers as Croce, Ferretti, the Gabrieli brothers, Marenzio, and Vecchi.

1.2 Why Germans were enamored with this repertory is simple to explain when one observes that this diverse socio-economic consumer group had Italian musicians as friends, colleagues, or employees within the period under discussion, ca.1580–1620. Indeed, it was precisely because of the many Italian musicians living in Germany that German composers like Leonhard Lechner began to transform the style of the German tenor lied into madrigal- and canzonet-like types of German song, as Ludwig Finscher, among other scholars, has noted. With native Germans composing German songs as if they were Italian, and with Italian expatriates residing in Germany composing Italian songs as if they were living in Italy, the time was obviously ripe for German music publishers, printers, and the editors they employed to capitalize on the situation by issuing Italian madrigals in anthologies and by having the Italian texts translated into German. Who those German editors and translators were, what editorial techniques they embraced to adapt the madrigal for a German-speaking consumer base, and how successful those editors and translators were, is the subject of this well-written book by Susan Lewis Hammond.

1.3 The book is divided into five chapters, prefaced with a fine introduction and concluded with an even finer epilogue that wraps up the author’s arguments and findings very neatly. It is also supplemented with two appendices, both of which are excellent. The first provides bibliographically complete and what appear to be accurate transcriptions of the title pages and dedications for the nine music anthologies of Italian madrigals that Hammond discusses. It also gives a complete list of surviving copies for each of the nine and tells us which specific copy the author used for her transcriptions.

2. Collections and Collecting

2.1 Hammond’s introduction to the volume opens with a fabulous quotation from Castiglione’s Il libro del cortegiano wherein the courtier is advised not only to gather and imitate the best things learned from his master but to judge, select, and transform them as well. Hammond clearly chose this quotation as a means of setting the stage for her discussion of German music editors as collectors or gatherers who brought together a repertory of foreign music that they then adopted and transformed for their German-speaking clientele. Indeed, as Hammond astutely points out, German music editors assembled and organized Italian madrigals in their editions in much the same way that German nobility and the affluent merchant class collected and organized coins, antiquities, medallions, mineralia, and botanica into display cabinets (or Kunstkammern as they became known) in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As such, Hammond’s passing observation that German printed anthologies of foreign music were in many ways a reflection of the German penchant to assemble, classify and display foreign objects of beauty or of curiosity is nothing less than “spot on.” Indeed, it is an observation that certainly applies not only to the nine anthologies of Italian madrigals she discusses in this book but also to many earlier German anthologies of foreign music both in print and in manuscript, which Hammond does not discuss or mention.

2.2 Whether we are looking at the St. Emmeram Codex, the Trent manuscripts, or at any one of the songbook anthologies copied by or assembled for Oswald von Wolkenstein, Hartmann Schedel, Bonifacius Ammerbach, Jacob Hagenbach, or Felix Platter, it is clear that German speakers were avid collectors of Franco-Flemish, French, or Italian songs well before the Italian madrigal anthologies discussed by Hammond appeared in the decades around 1600. It is also clear that these earlier song repertories were not only played on instruments but sung in German as well. We know they were sung in German, and not in the original French, Dutch, or Italian, because we have many examples of foreign songs preserved in German manuscripts dating from the fifteenth and first half of the sixteenth centuries that carry only German text incipits. We also have collections of song-text sheets which represent German translations or contrafacta of Italian, Flemish, and French songs for the Arcadelt and Sermisy generation as well as for later generations of composers (e.g., Gardane, Clemens non Papa, Rore, and Lassus). As such, Hammond’s German anthologies of foreign music in the late sixteenth century actually have a long and distinguished prehistory, which I am only mentioning here so as to place her valuable work within a broader context.

3. Crediting the Editor

3.1 As I read Hammond’s introduction I was also thankful to her for having provided us with a section entitled “Towards a Historiography of the Early Modern Music Editor.” In this section she collects, classifies, and interprets the copious secondary literature on the subject of transmission, reception, and adaptation of textual matter in the Renaissance. Indeed, her five- page overview of the topic, citing such diverse scholars of Renaissance culture as Paul Oskar Kristeller, Peter Burke, Anthony Grafton, and Adam Smyth (not to be confused with the eighteenth-century economist), together with musicologists like Martha Feldman, Ludwig Finscher, Mary Lewis, Richard Freedman, and Stanley Boorman, is very useful and resonates nicely with her overarching theme: the importance of editors in the transmission of music.

3.2 From here, Hammond moves to another subsection within her introduction where she identifies the types of evidence which she will use to evaluate the role that editors played in her books’ production (“Sources for a Study of Renaissance Editing”). This evidence, not surprisingly drawn from a study of the printed books themselves, includes examining concordance patterns for the repertory, analyzing title pages, and looking at contents lists, indices, headings, typefaces, and the prefaces or dedicatory pages. The last two items in particular tell us a great deal about why the book might have been published, for whom it was destined, and from whom the financial backing came. Her final category of source material is archival and includes “publishers’ catalogs, advertisements, inventories of libraries and records of book purchases.” Working from this evidence Hammond formulates a few questions that she answers in the ensuring chapters with aplomb: namely “How quick was the flow of music books from Venice to the north? Which composers and styles were imported the most?” and “How did the imports shape the form and contents of new German products?”

3.3 Finally, the introduction offers, as most do, an “Outline of the book.” Aside from mapping out how she will proceed and why, Hammond provides us with a preview of what her significant findings will be: 1) “the first century of music printing witnessed a shift from anonymous editorship to the advertisement of an editor, and heavy reliance on his services”; 2) “editing is a historically-defined practice whose product, an anthology, is a highly malleable publication type that is responsive to religious and political currents, the conditions of the local marketplace, the personal likes and dislikes of an editor, and the perceived tastes of a diverse range of consumers”; and 3) “editorial work explains the shift in buying habits of the northern public, which had little use for the madrigal prior to the period in question.” These three conclusions, and the many others she makes, are generally well documented and cogently argued. However there were times that I found myself questioning some of her conclusions as I worked my way through her main chapters.

3.4 In the first chapter (“The Anthology and the Birth of the Professional Music Editor”) Hammond provides us with a fine overview of printed music anthologies in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. She does this by taking us through sections entitled “The Editor on the Page,” “Dedications and Prefaces,” and “The Order of Music Books.” In the first section she traces the history of naming editors on title pages. As Hammond points out, most early printed anthologies tended to cite the existence of an editor by mentioning the editor only by name in the book’s preface or in its dedicatory remarks (e.g., Petrus Castellanus is named in the preface to Petrucci’s Odhecaton A), or simply didn’t mention the editor at all (e.g., anthologies published by Valerio Dorico). This situation was more or less the norm throughout Europe in anthologies of music in the first half of the sixteenth century. For example, Attaingnant’s collections of Chanson nouvelles make no mention of an editor on their title pages or in their prefaces. And while Jacques Moderne called upon Antonio Francesco Layolle to edit collections of sacred music and outsourced the editing of his chanson series Paragon to P. de Villiers, neither musician was mentioned as the editor of the volumes on the title pages, but rather are named only in the books’ prefaces.

3.5 German publishers, on the other hand, were not as closed-minded when it came to recognizing the importance of the person who collected and organized a music anthology. Johannes Petreius named Georg Forster as “selectore” (i.e., selector or editor) on the title page of the first volume of the motet anthology Selectissimarum mutetarum partim quinque partim quatour vocum published in 1540. Yet Petreius did not place Forster’s name on the title pages of the two anthologies of German Lieder that he published in 1539 and 1540. That Petreius, the famous Nuremberg printer, publisher, and book dealer, featured Forster’s name on the title page of his motet collection yet relegated his name to the prefaces of his German song collections is evidence that Hammond uses to build her case that German publishers in the 1540s were still ambivalent as to the role that editors played in the creation of music anthologies. But how ambivalent were they? There are so many prefaces to music anthologies published in German-speaking lands where the title pages, while lacking the editor’s name, are immediately followed on the subsequent recto with a long-winded preface written by the editor himself. These prefaces often tell us why the editor put the book together, where he got his music, who the individual or family was that financially backed a book’s publication, and finally for whom the book was intended (e.g., students, amateur musicians, sacred or secular institutions, etc.).

3.6 Indeed, a long tradition within the German-speaking realm predates the madrigal anthologies discussed in Hammond’s book and makes it clear that editors were perceived as a valuable commodity. That tradition permitted an editor to speak for himself and tell his readership what he was doing and why. We all know their names, as does Hammond, who discusses virtually all of them. Aside from Georg Forster and his five collections of Frischer Teutscher Liedlein published between 1539 and 1556, there is Sigmund Salminger, who edited and even held the privilege for the Selectissimae necnon familiarissimae of 1540 (a collection of secular songs which, by the way, contain Italian madrigals of the Arcadelt and Verdelot generation). There is also Wolfgang Schmeltzel’s Guter seltzamer und Künstreicher teutscher Gesang of 1544, a collection of German Quodlibets, which opens with a German translation of an Italian madrigal by Verdelot). Then there is the evidence found in prefatory remarks not written by the outsourced editors just mentioned, but rather by the printers and publishers themselves, which confirms that such giants of the music publishing industry in Germany as Georg Rhaw (who wrote one of the most popular music textbooks of the sixteenth century) and Johann vom Berg (who cites himself as the compiler of the Novum et insigne opus musicum) were actively involved in the compilation and assemblage of their own music anthologies and were obviously musically literate (something which we are still not sure of for Ottaviano Petrucci).

3.7 The reason that I am taking on a rather pedantic tone at this point is because Hammond loves to hammer home the main thesis of her book: namely, that it wasn’t until the late sixteenth century that editors of music came into their own, and that it was the appearance of an editor’s name on the title page (and not simply in the book’s preface) that elevated the role of the editor to one that was authorial.

3.8 Even if we accept Hammond’s thesis, the fact is that there are examples in German printing well before 1580 where the editor of a volume is credited on the title page.  The first one that comes to mind is actually the first dated book of polyphonic music issued in Germany: Melopoiae sive harmoniae tetracenticae, published by Erhard Oeglin in Augsburg in 1507. This book, containing four-voice settings of Horace’s odes composed by Petrus Tritonius, was edited by Conrad Celtis, whose name appears not once, but twice, on the book’s typographically elegant title page. The name of the composer, Tritonius, on the other hand, appears only once. Why Celtis’s name, the editor, is prominently featured on the title page is easy to explain if one simply considers the fact that by 1507 Celtis had an international reputation. Let us not forget that in 1487 Celtis was crowned poet laureate in Nuremberg by Emperor Frederick III—the first German to be so honored. This was a book that could easily have been destined for an international market, not just a German one. By offering musical settings of the Horatian odes in which the meters and quantities of the verse were strictly observed in Tritonius’s musical settings, the Melopoiae was widely used in the German Latin school system throughout the sixteenth century and could have been used anywhere in Europe where Latin was being taught.

3.9 In addition to the Melopoiae, there are numerous examples of books that have nothing to do with music which were published in German-speaking regions and where the name of the editor appears on the title page. Erasmus of Rotterdam is one editor who comes to mind, and particularly his editions of many of the Church Fathers that he prepared while living in Basel and working at the publishing house of Johannes Froben.  Likewise, the poet laureate Heinrich Glarean, a close colleague of Erasmus, is yet another humanist whose published works comprise not only his own original writing, such as the Dodecachordon or the Isagoge in musicen, but editions of Boethius, Caesar, and several Roman poets and satirists. And here too Glarean’s name as the editor or annotator is often featured on the title page. These observations are not meant in any way to detract from the value of Hammond’s study. Indeed, they support her belief that “the act of naming an editor served a dual purpose. It suggests ways that printers used the reputation of editors to promote books, and offers growing evidence of an authorial function bestowed upon editors.” (p.14). Yet Celtis, Erasmus, and Glarean, none of whom is mentioned in Hammond’s study, are certainly a lot better known than any one of the editors discussed in her book in the ensuing chapters.

4. Working for a Local Clientele

4.1 Chapter 2 focuses on “Friedrich Lindner: Working for a Local Clientele.” That clientele hailed from Nuremberg, the so-called Venice of the North, and as such one of the most important gateways through which Italian music passed into Germany. Hammond focuses her attention on Lindner’s edition of the Gemma musicalis, a monumental three-volume set of Italian madrigals published by Gerlach in Nuremberg in 1588. Chapter 3 discusses “Editors and the Germanization of Italian Song,” and it is here that we meet Abraham Ratz, Valentin Haussmann, and Andreas Myller, each of whom created German translations or contrafacta of the original Italian texts. In Chapter 4, entitled “From Pastoral to Prayer: Editing Italian Music for Lutheran Germany,” Hammond introduces us to Petrus Neander and Martin Rinckart. These two editors assembled Italian madrigals of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and transformed them into Geistlicher Lieder by replacing the secular texts with sacred ones written in German, as indeed many earlier German editors of manuscript anthologies did with madrigals by Arcadelt (e.g., O sio potessi donna = Erhalt uns her bei, D-HB MS XXXII-XXXIV/6, no.1) and with chansons by Sermisy (e.g., Le content est riche = Vatter unser im himmelreich, D-Rp A.R. 940/41, no.109). 

4.2 Now I must embarrassingly admit that, with the exception of Lindner and Haussman, none of these editors or translators (or the many others mentioned in Hammond’s book) was known to me before I read Hammond’s book. I say that I am embarrassed only because I was responsible for overseeing the selection of all entries pertaining to German and central European music of the sixteenth century for the revised edition (2001) of the New Grove. If Hammond’s book had been available back in 1992 when I was gathering, assembling, and selecting entries for Grove, I would have included some of her little-known editors and translators, if only because they were clearly working for a local market, and as such, their work, as does Hammond’s book, underscores an important fact about German music printing and publishing which I need to mention. Between ca.1500 and 1750 German music publishers went to market with only one market in mind, and that market was a German-speaking one, which incidentally continued to be German-speaking well into the eighteenth century. Indeed, regardless of whether the music was German texted, Latin texted, Italian texted, or didn’t carry any text at all, as long as the music was German or published by a German it rarely traveled outside of the German Sprachgebiet, as I have discussed elsewhere.1 The anthologies of Italian madrigals studied by Hammond support this thesis not only because the original Italian texts were translated into German, or new German texts were created for the foreign repertory, but also because of the current locations of the nearly 100 surviving copies of the anthologies that Hammond records in Appendix A. Of those 100, only eight survive in libraries outside of the German-speaking realm or outside of what we today call Central Europe. And of those eight, I am sure that the six in the British Library, the one in New Haven at Yale University, and the one in Paris at the Bibliothèque Nationale were volumes that came to those libraries centuries after the books were published.

4.3 Given the fact that books published in the German-speaking realm were produced for those residing in that realm, it should come as no surprise that German editors were chosen to do all the heavy lifting. That lifting meant they had to get the music, organize it in a way that would be appealing to their local clientele, and ultimately see their anthologies through the press. As I read Hammond’s book, however, I never got the impression that they actually edited the music. Rather they simply reproduced the music as they found it in their Italian prints, and as such, one wonders if calling them editors of music is actually valid.  If they had added accidentals or corrected pitch or rhythm mistakes then yes, they are editors. But since neither Lindner nor any one of Hammond’s other editors seemed to have touched the music, I would be more inclined to simply call them anthologizers. This is not to say that anthologizers didn’t edit music. They did. Christoph Leibfried and Emanuell Wurstisenn, both working in Basel in the 1580s and ‘90s, created large manuscript anthologies of keyboard and lute music by transcribing sacred and secular Italian, French, German, and Flemish music into German tablature. Leibfried worked his way systematically through dozens of Italian madrigal prints, transcribing the original notation into keyboard tablature, and Wurstisenn, working independently from Leibfried, did the same for the lute, but for fewer pieces. Since both Leibfried and Wurstisenn took liberties with the original notation, I am more inclined to view their work as editorial than to view the work of those editors discussed in Hammond’s book in that same light.2 Actually, the more I read Hammond’s book I started to wonder why Lindner’s name, and those of the many other editors discussed by Hammond, was featured so prominently on the title pages. Was it because they were so famous within the German-speaking realm that the appearance of their name promised a windfall profit for the publisher? Or was it because the editor of the volume had a vested interest in the book’s publication, an interest that could yield money for the Lindners of the world and at the same time help them establish a reputation or galvanize one by having their name in print?  Indeed, if the anthologies discussed by Hammond hadn’t survived, many of these editors would be virtually unknown to us today. I would have to conclude that the editors discussed by Hammond were first and foremost entrepreneurs who looked to capitalize on the Italian madrigal craze in Germany. This they did, as Hammond convincingly shows, by assembling madrigal anthologies wherein pieces were chosen based on the reputation of a composer, how popular a certain madrigal was, and perhaps how easy or difficult it was to sing.

5. Italian Music for German Consumers

5.1 In the final chapter of her book, entitled “German Consumers of Early Modern Music Books,” Hammond provides an overview of the German individuals and institutions who owned Italian music books. She focuses her attention on “German Courts,” on “Merchants and Patricians: Germany’s Urban Elite,” on “Professionals: Musicians, Teachers, and Students,” and finally on “Religious and Educational Institutions.” This is a fine and very useful chapter. It assembles virtually all the secondary literature on the subject, summarizes it beautifully, and provides thoughtful analysis. Indeed, this chapter is by far the best place to go to get a comprehensive picture as to who those Germans were who were beguiled by the Italian madrigal, where they resided, and within what type of venue they might have used the music books. I spotted only a few omissions: the important collection of Italian secular music assembled by Georg Knoff in the late sixteenth century;3 the printed and manuscript collections of Italian secular music assembled, owned, and ultimately transcribed for lute and keyboard tablature by the two Baslers, Leibfried and Wurstisenn (cited above); and by the collection of German song text sheets copied and compiled by the Basel medical doctor Felix Platter around 1590.4 This later collection is valuable in that it documents a prehistory to the madrigal translations discussed by Hammond in her book.

5.2 Certainly there were other German-speaking citizens who owned copies of the Germanized madrigal anthologies discussed by Hammond. Indeed, I suspect that many of the surviving copies that Hammond lists in Appendix A might well reveal on their title pages marks of ownership, clues as to how the books might have been used and where, and even what the books might have cost. It would also be interesting to know if any of the surviving copies of the same print have the same binding (e.g., the same rolls and stamps) and if any of the bindings’ covers or spines tell us anything about who owned the books. These are questions that can only be answered by examining more than one surviving copy of a music print and then by examining those copies in the libraries where they reside and not on a microfilm (which, as we know, rarely includes bindings, spines or pasted-down endsheets). I only bring this up because Hammond’s study of the anthologies seems to have relied on examining only one surviving copy, and not multiple copies. Perhaps Hammond or one of her students might get the opportunity in the future to travel around Germany and Central Europe and take a good look at what those individual copies might have in store for us. In the meantime, I can only congratulate Susan Lewis Hammond for gathering, assembling, and analyzing an enormous amount of neglected yet important musical source material in a single location. Her book is a gold mine of information. It yields many precious gems of data. It made me think seriously about the transmission, reception, and performance of any foreign repertory that made its way to Germany at any time in its history. It is a “must read” for anyone who is interested in how a foreign text, musical or otherwise, can be adapted for a local clientele.


* John Kmetz (jkmetz@hrrllp.com) is the Chief Marketing Officer at Holtz Rubenstein Reminick (New York) and a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Musicology at the University of Vienna, where he teaches seminars on music of the German Renaissance, on music, money and markets in early modern Europe, and on the songs of George Gershwin and Cole Porter.

1 John Kmetz, “250 Years of German Music Printing (ca.1500–1750): A Case for a Closed Market,” in Niveau, Nische, Nimbus: Die Anfänge des Musikdrucks nördlich der Alpen, ed. Birgit Lodes, Weiner Forum für ältere Musikgeschichte 3 (Tutzing: Verlegt bei Hans Schneider 2010), 167–84.

2 On the Leibfried and Wurstisenn collections see John Kmetz, Die Handschriften der Universitätsbibliothek Basel. Katalog der Musikhandschriften des 16. Jahrhunderts. Quellenkritische und historische Untersuchung (Basel: Verlag der Universitätsbibliothek Basel,1988), especially pp. 170–5 (Leibfried) and pp. 206–29 (Wurstisenn).

3 See Martin Morell, “Georg Knoff: Bibliophile and Devotee of Italian Music in Late Sixteenth-Century Danzig,” in Music in the German Renaissance: Sources, Styles and Context, ed. John Kmetz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 103–26.

4 See John Kmetz, “Felix Platter’s ‘Musica getütscht’: Madrigals and Chansons in Renaissance Basel,” in The Sixteenth-Century Basel Songbooks: Origins, Contents, Contexts, Publikationen der Schweizerischen Musikforschenden Gesellschaft, 2nd ser., 35 (Bern: P. Haupt, 1995), 187–224.

Copyright © Society for Seventeenth-Century Music. All Rights Reserved.

ISSN: 1089-747X

Items appearing in JSCM may be saved and stored in electronic or paper form, and may be shared among individuals for purposes of scholarly research or discussion, but may not be republished in any form, electronic or print, without prior, written permission from the Editor-in-Chief of JSCM.

Any authorized redistribution of an item published in JSCM must include the following information in a form appropriate to the medium in which it is to appear:

This item appeared in the Journal of Seventeenth Century Music (http://www.sscm-jscm.org/) [volume, no. (year)], and it is republished here with permission.

Libraries may archive issues of JSCM in electronic or paper form for public access so long as each issue is stored in its entirety, and no access fee is charged. Exceptions to these requirements must be approved in writing by the Editor-in-Chief of JSCM.

Website Design and Development by Crooked River Design.