Daniel Lagkhner's Collection »Soboles musica« (Nuremberg 1602)


  • Jože Sivec




The collection "Soboles musica, id est Cantiones sacrae, quatuor, quinque, sex, septem et octo vocibus, festis anni solmnioribus pie accomodatae" of Daniel Lagkhner (Lackner) was printed in 1602 by Abraham Wagenmann in Nuremberg, whereafter also all the other collections of the same author were published. Two copies have survived, one is kept in the Bishop's Central Library in Regensburg, the other in the Municipal Archives of Kamenz (GDR). The collection is dedicated to Baron Georg Christoph von Losenstein, with whom the composer was engaged as "symphonista" or rather "musurgus" at Loosdorf in Lower Austria. It contains 28 Latin choral works. These are all, with two exceptions (No. XVI. is a song written for Dr. Bierdümphel's wedding and No. XXIV is a musical arrangement of the introductory dedication), of a liturgical character and are predominantly based on texts of the Old and New Testament. The compositions are written for various vocal casts; however, contrarily to those in the already known, slightly younger collections, they are never intended for high voices only and thus demand a combination of boys' and male voices or rather a mixed chorus. On the whole, the texture is rather polyphonic, though there is periodically some explicit homophony not confined only to short blocks of chords or passages in triple measure. Throughout the compositions imitation is more or less present and two thirds of the collection begin in an imitational way. Here and there, two various themes are used at a time, or two variants of the same theme or rather the theme together with its inversion. Whereas the beginning of No. IX reveals three variants of the same theme, in No. XXIII three completely different themes are used. An eminent characteristic is the chori spezzati technique, either in a fictitious or a completely realized form. The technique of devided choirs can be detected already in five-part compositions. It is present nearly in all six-part compositions, whereas it comes up most strongly in those written for eight parts. The incipits of the second group are usually on the last chord of the first group, though sometimes proceeding or following the latter. The musical phrase of the first group is rarely repeated; usually, new material is presented, though the old text is likely to recur. No. XIX shows swift exchange between higher and lower groups, which is in the Venetian School the manner developed especially by Andrea Gabrieli, whereas with Willaert the choruses followed each other in longer sections. Among the modes the mixolydian has precedence. It is combined with texts of joyous character and many a time with passionate divine hymns. This mode is followed by the dorian and ionian, each with the same number of examples. Ionian compositions too are based on texts of high spirited moods. The aeolian mode is least frequent. Apart from the main modality some compositions reflect a longer or shorter presence of one, two or even more other modes. With "Soboles musica", this phenomenon, due to a wider concept, seems to be more explicit than with younger collections. Much more obvious is also the trend towards the new tonality, so that passages in major and minor as well as chromatics are found more frequently – and this represents a shifting away from the modal basis and, in a number of examples, modulation in the newer harmonic sense. On the whole, the chromatics are on the increase, although mostly in the form of alterations, typical of modal texture. An exception is compostion No. I, the concluding section of which contains a D sharp. The compositions are written in a "durch"-composed form, consisting of a greater or smaller number of passages which vary in their thematics, structure and length. Because of religious texts these compositions are typical motets, and also the two other secular songs follow the same compositional treatment. No. XX and XXV make use of a refrain as a formbuilding element, typical of the early baroque church concerto and effectively used since G. Gabrieli. Stylistically, the collection "Soboles musica", which oscillates between the past and new sound, reflects the current musical situation in Europe and especially that in Germany and Austria. Extensive use of polyphony and imitation reveals its high renaissance traditional orientation. This is the technique of the masters from the Low Countries, the musical language of Europe which was ever since the late 15th century in spite of specific "national" secular forms internationally understood. At the same time, strong late renaissance and partly early baroque influences, which had begun in Italy and especially in the Venetian School, cannot be overlooked. In connection with Lagkhner this means: fictitious or realized chori spezzati technique, rise of homophony, wide use of fictitious polyphony as well as agitated rhythmical contrasts. However, contemporary trends towards expressive underlining of texts with dissonaces as well as with augmented and diminished melodic progressions, which were especially promienent in the madrigal of the latter half of the 16th century, and quite evident in some late renaissance religious of the great masters, are not to be detected in "Soboles musica". Sporadic, freer treatment of dissonance, when found cannot be ascribed to any special expressive intentions. Nevertheless, they do reflect Venetian characteristics, although never in the magnificient and monumental way as developed by A. and G. Gabrieli. Which means that Lagkhner was not cut off from contemporary musical developments and basicly did not lag behind numerous composers, active in Austria at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries. As far as one can judge from the hitherto researched works of Daniel Lagkhner, a greater number of compositions from the "Soboles musica" collection represent the artistically best and stylistically most advanced part of his opus. This time, his creative imagination was not infected by limited means of performance as in the case of two earlier collections. "Soboles musica" reflects thus Lagkhner's full compositional abilities on the verge of a new century. Although the collection in question comes from a mature composer, the compostions that have hitherto come down to us cannot give a fully reliable stylistic picture of Daniel Lagkhner, for in all probability they represent but a part of his compostional output.


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How to Cite

Sivec, J. (1980). Daniel Lagkhner’s Collection »Soboles musica« (Nuremberg 1602). Musicological Annual, 16(1), 5–30. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.16.1.5-30