The Collection of German Songs from the Year 1593 by Wolfgang Striccius


  • Jože Sivec



The collection »Der Erste Theil Newer Teutscher Gesänge zu Fünff und Vier Stimmen« was printed in 1593 in Ulssen. The composer dedicated it to the teaching body and Convivium Musicum in Hannover. The collection contains 26 compositions, partially secular and partially devotional. However, the secular texts predominate and it is characteristic that they often are of a moralising, contemplative character. The compositions are only in some cases set ad aequales, otherwise they are intended for a mixed voice choir so that the bass range is more or less present. Whereas the compositions for 5 voices (Nos. 1–14) are of a predominantly polyphonic structure, in the pieces for 4 voices we observe a decrease of polyphony and an increase of a homophonic element. In the majority of the compositions imitation no longer plays an eminent role. Although homophony and sonority gain in significance, we still find here and there incomplete triads on the down beat. Among the modes used in the collection dorian strongly prevails, followed by the aeolian. The ionian mode is restricted to a few compositions and in two cases we also find the mixolydian mode. In general, the composer still strongly clings to the modal system and only seldom makes use of a typical modulation in a modern, harmonic sense. Among the compositions published only No. 26 comes already very near to the modern major. This points, however, to the fact that the tendencies of modern tonal feeling have come, though seldom, yet strongly enough to the fore in the composer's work. Besides this it should be mentioned that we occasionally encounter the tendency to underline the contents of the text by means of harmony. As we want the collection to be more exactly defined with regard to its style, the question seems important how far new trends coming from Italy and France are reflected here. In this connection we must first draw attention to the formation of melodies, for which besides extended melismatics, a syllabic and declamatory character is typical, connected with tone repetition and short note values. This type of melody points to a relationship with the chanson as also do some imitatively constructed and easily flowing parlando passages. The contact with the Italian music of the period is displayed by tone dipiction and simple homophonic structure and even more by the idiom of individual compositions, the optimistic, serene tone of which comes rather near to the villanella or canzonetta. In addition, Striccius followed the Italian model in respect to form in some pieces. Finally, a reference should be made to the last composition (No. 26) which is set for two four-voice choirs. Here the composer has made use of the cori spezzati technique, which reached its most flourishing development in the Venetian school of the 16th century. The collection »Der Erste Theil Newer Teutscher Gesänge zu Fünff und Vier Stimmen« is, like the collection »Neue Teutsche Lieder« (Nürnberg 1588), which was dealt with in the previous volume of this annual, the fruit of the early achievements of the composer, one being devided from the other by an interval of only five years. Nevertheless, it seems significant that in this rather short interval we can observe a distinct creative advance and a stylistic development of the composer. However, the adherence to tradition is more marked in the older collection than in this one, where the influence of new trends becomes stronger. Finally, the compositions of the collection »Der Erste Theil Newer Teutscher Gesänge zu Fünff und Vier Stimmen« represent besides the latin motet »Exulta satis filia Sion«, which is preserved only in manuscript form, the highest achievement of Wolfgang Striccius known to the present, with respect to expression and technique.


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How to Cite

Sivec, J. (1970). The Collection of German Songs from the Year 1593 by Wolfgang Striccius. Musicological Annual, 6(1), 20–37.