A Contribution to the Study of Jacobus Gallus Handl's Relationship to Prague


  • Jitka Snížková




One of Jacobus Gallus Handl's early compostions – the »quinque vocum officium super Levavi oculos meos« – has recently been found in its complete version in the graduale latino-bohemicum; its four voices sign. UK XI B 1 a, b, c, d are completed by a fifth voice vagans from Strahov sign. D A II 3. – The three-voice fragment was known before in literature. The officium is signed with the name of Jacobus Handl written in full, after the introitus Rorate before Kyrie in the part-book discant (fol. 328 a). In the tenor part-book it is introduced on fol. 327 a by the introductory text »Officium Sacrum de Annunciacione Beatae Mariae Adam Rossa pro decore Christi Sumptu privato curavit Anno Virginei partus 1578«. This is followed by Rorate coeli, Kyrie, Gloria, Laus tibi Christe, Mittit ad virginem, Patrem (Credo), Beata es virgo Maria. When examining the scores we notice a series of interesting features: 1) The officium has a pronounced neo-calixtine structure. It introduces several motets, it omits Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus from the fixed parts of the mass, it ends with a two-part motet and there are slight changes in the text of the ordinarnim. 2) The manuscript of the graduale latino-bohemicum was made for the literary fraternity of St. Michael's church in the New Town of Prague. The Czech composer Jan Trojan Turnovský is one of the authors of the mass officia represented in this manuscript. He was, however, neither the owner nor the editor of the part-books. 3) The graduale is pronouncedly neo-calixtine, which is evident from the contents as well as the form of the mass officia, from the introductory Latin text and last but not least from the introduction of the officium concerning the Czech martyrs Jan Hus and Jeroným (officium super Vias tuas Domine demonstra mihi) whose author is probably Jiří Rychnovský. 4) The compact structure with inserted motets and the original low range typical for St. Michael's Church and the calixtine fraternities hint at the strong probability that Gallus wrote this composition for St. Michael's Church in Prague. The composition is dated 1578. 5) The analysis of the work raises the question whether Gallus is the author of the entire composition or only of the fixed parts. Gallus' authorship of the whole composition is sustained by the integrity of the architectonic plan with monothematic fixed parts and the rather archaic variable movements with a systematic regularity in conclusions and keys. Beyond any doubt Gallus is the author of the mentioned fixed parts Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, which are monothematic. Gallus' autorship of only the fixed and not the variable parts can be supported by the following facts: a) A different counterpoint technique, an older type, including plagal conclusions, a lack of chromatic art in the free parts (Laus tibi, Mittit ad virginem). b) The motet Laus tibi is, in its composition, similar to motets by J. Trojan Turnovský. c) The officium with variable movements can frequently be found among Calixtines, while Jacobus Gallus was Catholic by upbringing and conviction. Another, in literature as yet unmentioned, document of Jacobus Gallus' relationship to Czech polyphony is the two-voice fragment of the motet »Není v síle lidu« (It is not in the power of the people) in the part-books No. 75–76 in Klatovy, where it is mentioned in the index of compositions and authors in the book bassus, as number 42. The part-books of Klatovy date from the last 15 years of the 16th century and include works by Czech composers, such as Pavel Spongopeus Jistebnický whose compositions are dated between the years 1585–1596. They are neo-calixtine. Due to the fragmentary nature of the two voices from compositions originally sexvocum or octovocum, we are as yet unable to answer the following questions: 1) Whether Gallus wrote this motet on basis of a Czech text or of a translation. 2) Whether this motet was written by a Czech composer (probably P. Spongopeus) according to Gallus' model in the same way as the adjoining composition No. 43 »officium super Praeter rerum Josquini«. In the inventory of music books by Jacobus Gallus Handl, written in the Czech languague after his death in 1591 (Archives of the city of Prague, the Book of Inventories 1584–1596 sign. 1173) no notes on these compositions can be found. The complete voice scores of the »officium super Levavi oculos meos« by Jacobus Gallus Handl, dated 1578, from the Prague manuscript of St. Michael's literary fraternity, as well as the two voice fragment of the motet »Není v síle lidu« dating from the end of the 16th century, are striking documents of Jacobus Gallus Handl's mutual relationship with the Czech neo-calixtine polyphony.


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How to Cite

Snížková, J. (1970). A Contribution to the Study of Jacobus Gallus Handl’s Relationship to Prague. Musicological Annual, 6(1), 12–19. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.6.1.12-19




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