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Hieronymus Praetorius
1560 - 1629
H. Praetorius
Hieronymus Praetorius (10/08/1560 - 27/01/1629), a north German composer and organist of the late Renaissance and early Baroque. He was born in Hamburg. He received his first lessons and studied organ by his father Jacob Praetorius (1520-1586) and Hendrik thor Molen? and further in Cologne. Six persons of his Family where musicians. After his education Hieronymus (I) was first appointed organist in Erfurt. He returned to Hamburg in 1582 worked with his father Jacob and was appointed assistant-organist to his father at St. Jacobi, Hamburg. Some years later 1586 Hieronymus (I) was appointed principal organist in succeeding his father at St. Jacobi. In 1596 Hieronymus (I) went to Groningen/Holland where he certainly met Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) –not family- and Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612). He became acquainted with their music and the music of the Venetian School which Hieronymus embraced. Hieronymus (I) remained in Hamburg as organist at St. Jacobi until his death in 1629. Hieronymus Praetorius wrote sacred music, masses, Magnificat-settings, and around 100 motets, mostly in Latin and sometimes in German. Most of his music is in the Venetian polychoral style, coro spezzati style – especially nine Magnificat-settings - which uses numerous voices divided into several Choirs. These compositions are the first to be written in north Germany in the Venetian style. He wrote some organ-works and 21 organ accompaniment to congregational singing of chorales.
Author:Wim Goossens
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1599c
Musical form:Motet a sext vocum
Text/libretto:Latin Officium Defunctorum
This funeral motet ‘Peccavi’ has a part of the text from the Book Job 7:20 from the Lectio I Office of the Dead and the Matins Responsory ‘Heu mihi’ too from the Office of the Dead. The source of the final sentence is unknown. It could be a 16th contemporary addition by Hieronymus Praetorius, only available in Reformation Catholic sources. The words ‘Peccavi [nimis in vita mea:] Quid faciam miser? Ubi fugiam, nisi ad te Deus meus’ are part of the Responsory ‘Heu mihi’ (Liber Usualis edition 1936, page 1791-1792) from the Office of the Dead, sung after the Lectio V. This motet is executed by H. Praetorius in case of funeral ceremonies in Hamburg/Germany at St. Jacobi. The official Roman Catholic Office of the Dead was no longer celebrated in the Protestant Hamburg. Praetorius sets this motet for six voices (SAATTB), Cantus (high clef) , Sextus (C2), Altus (C2), Quintus (C3), Tenor (C3), Bassus (F3). This motets is set in imitative polyphonic texture in using word-painting and even referring to the funeral motet ‘Heu mihi’ by Orlando di Lassus (1532-1594). This motet opens with a semitone in brevis on E by Altus e’-f’-e’ which will be imitated on A (by Tenor, Sextus) and D (by Bassus, Quintus). The Cantus opens on E, but an octave higher e”-f”-e”. Praetorius uses a lots of flats and sharps in this motet. Altus starts followed by Tenor, Bassus, Sextus, Quintus and Cantus. It’s interesting to see how Preatorius musically treated the phrases ‘ubi fugiam’ followed by ‘nisi ad te, Deus meus’ in Ms. 21-31. In ‘ubi fugiam’ Ms. 21-27 we see in all parts flurries of quavers to underline the words ‘Where will I fly?’ in word-painting , immediately followed by a stilled/introvert homophonic ‘nisi ad te Deus meus/except to you my God.’ If we see the scoring of the same words by Lassus in his setting of the Responsory of Matins ‘Heu mihi’ (Ms. 38-44 in Lassus’s score) we saw similar rhythmic elements Praetorius used. We suppose Praetorius has either known the text and this Responsory ‘Heu mihi’ by Lassus, or at least Praetorius had the same thoughts implementing the used text. As from ‘Ignosce culpam petenti’ (Ms. 35) Praetorius opens again imitative with the same semitone by Cantus on E, e”-f”-e”, which will be imitated on E by Altus (Ms. 36), Quintus (Ms. 39) and on A and E by Bassus, (Ms. 38 resp. Ms. 44). The short E-version will be repeated by Altus (Ms. 45) and Quintus (Ms. 47). At the end Praetorius uses again twice word-painting at the word ‘quarenti’ [asks] in using a lot of quavers in the two upper-parts and Bassus (Ms.53-54) and in the three upper-parts (Ms.57-58). This motet is set and ends in A-Phrygian. This motet is found in Cantiones sacrae de praecipuis festis totius anni, 5,6,7, et 8 vocum, Authore Hieronimo Praetorio, Organista in xde St. Jacobi Hamburgensi, excudebat Philippus de Ohr, MDIC.
Author:Wim Goossens