The First Printed Organ Music / Kimberly Marshall
Schlick: The First Printed Organ Music

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Program and Notes
Arnolt Schlick: The First Printed Organ Music
Paul Fritts organ at Arizona State University (1991)
Sky Hart, cantor
Kimberly Marshall, organ

2012 marks 500 years since the first printed organ music was published by Arnolt Schlick. Kimberly Marshall brings these early works to life, along with other music of Schlick's time, on the exceptional Paul Fritts organ at Arizona State University.
Program Notes

Schlick (c.1455-60-after 1521): Salve regina
1. Salve regina (c.f. in Tenor)
2. Vita, dulcedo (sung)
3. Ad te clamamus (c.f. in Bass)
4. Ad te suspiramus (sung)
5. Eia ergo, advocata (nostra) (c.f. in Soprano)
6. Et Jesum benedictum
7. O pia (O Clemens) (c.f. in Alto)
8. O pia (sung)
9. O dulcis Maria (c.f. in Bass)

10. Hans Kotter (1480-1541): Salve regina (one movement)
11. Schlick: Pete quid vis
12. Schlick: Hoe losteleck
13. Paul Hofhaimer (1459 – 1537): Was ich durch Glück
14. Hofhaimer: Zucht, Her und Lob
15. Schlick: Benedictus
16. Heinrich Isaac (c. 1450 – 26 March 1517): Benedictus
17. Schlick: Primi Toni

18. Conrad Paumann (c. 1410 - 1473): Incipit Fundamentum
19. Paumann: Sequuntur Redeuntes
20. Paumann: Redeuntes in idem

21. Schlick: Maria zart
22. Maria zart (sung)
23. Leonhard Kleber (c. 1495-1556): Maria zart

24. Schlick: Christe

25. Da pacem (sung)
26-28. Schlick: Da Pacem (3 verses)

29.. Hans Buchner (1483- 1538): Agnus Dei primum, ad festum trium regum
30. Agnus dei (sung)
31. Buchner: Agnus Dei secundum
32. Schlick: Ascendo ad patrem

"This [the organ] is the pre-eminent instrument of music, since the greatest number of voice parts, as many as six or seven, may be controlled by one man. It is customarily used in churches for the praise of God, to facilitate choral singing, and to refresh human spirits and vexations. It is produced with great and heavy outlay and expense, and certainly through ignorance it is easily wasted, ruined, and all the cost may be vainly expended."

—Arnolt Schlick, in his Preface to Spiegel der Organisten und Orgelmacher (Mainz, 1511)

This recording was conceived to mark the 500th anniversary of the first published organ music, Arnolt Schlick’s Tabulatur etlicher Lobgesang und lidlein (Mainz: Peter Schöffer, 1512). The book contains music for organ and lute, notated in old German tablature, with the treble voice on a staff and the lower parts in letters. There are ten organ pieces, opening and closing with cantus firmus liturgical works. Treatments of vernacular songs are found between.

The style of these works harkens back to a German tradition of making organ music known as the fundamentum, or foundations, of improvisation/composition. Conrad Paumann cantus firmi in different patterns (ascending stepwise, in thirds or fourths; descending in various intervals). The cantus firmus moves in uniform note values, while the organist creates figuration in much shorter notes above it; this style is related to Notre-Dame organum and was very different from the imitative polyphonic music cultivated by 15th-century Franco-Flemish composers.

With his organ music, Schlick began to incorporate aspects of contemporary vocal style, its imitation and sequences, into the much older cantus firmus tradition. The other music in the Tabulaturen are song arrangements, where it is not always known whether Schlick composed the original polyphonic treatment or acted as the intabulator, adding figurations to a vocal model.

When deciding on an appropriate instrument for this music, I considered two main factors, the temperament and the timbres advocated by Schlick. It was not possible to use an historic organ because of the need for A-flat in the second Da Pacem setting. In his Spiegel, Schlick advocates a modification of ¼-comma meantone tuning so that the purity of the major third E-G# is sacrificed to make bearable to the ear the major third Ab-C. This is a very unusual stipulation for the time, and Schlick is the only 16th-century organ composer to require a sustained Ab-C third in his notated repertoire. For this reason, surviving 16th-century organs could not accommodate this music without substantial retuning, a daunting prospect at best.

The year before he published his music, Schlick published a handbook on organ building, his Spiegel der Orgelmacher und Organisten (Mainz, 1511). In that work, he gives sample specifications for small (6’ starting on F) and large (12’ starting on F) organs. He was especially fond of reeds, and describes the unusual and varied forms of regal pipes and the inventions of organ builders with admiration, concluding that “Adams kinder feiern nit” (“Adam’s children never rest!”). Among the registers that he mentions in the Spiegel are the gemshorn, hintersatz (low-pitched mixture with many ranks), zimbel (high-pitched "schneiden" mixture), rauschpfeife (after the fashion of a schalmei), zink, a three-holed flute, Schwegel (a 3-holed flute played with one hand and used with tabor), and regals.

Given these tonal parameters and the need for a tempered tuning to accommodate the Da Pacem setting, I chose to present these fascinating works on the instrument over which I preside at Arizona State University, built by Paul Fritts in 1991. This beautiful organ contains the sounds mentioned by Schlick, as well as mutations that came to characterize the German organ in the 17th century. I tried to find registrations that would evoke Schlick’s suggestions in the Spiegel. I often added a flute when using Principal registers to recreate Schlick’s recommendation that the Principal contain two ranks, one with a wide scale (which he called Koppel, or flute) and another with a narrower scale. Although the Fritts organ does not have low and high mixtures on both keyboards, I used the Hauptwerk Mixtur as a Hintersatz and the Brustwerk Scharff as the “cutting” Zimbel advocated by Schlick. To satisfy Schlick’s love of reeds, I made liberal use of the Trichteregal on the Fritts organ, as well as the Pedal Trompet and Posaune.

Schlick’s extensive use of the pedal is very striking; he explains its importance in the Spiegel:

"Playing only on the manuals has been standard practice outside the German countries up to now, but now they are studying the pedals as well, and not without reason, for with the hands alone it is impossible to play every piece containing many parts correctly and with the parts in proper relation. But if one has the pedal to help, taking two or three voices, and also four in the manual, this makes seven parts altogether, which is impossible on the manuals without the pedal. Not only polyphony, but also many smaller songs cannot be played perfectly on the manuals, as is the case when parts go too far from each other, so that one voice must give way to another or be silent at times altogether because one cannot reach it with the hands. And sometimes the voices come too close together, so that they coincide, as at a cadence. This may be done perfectly, and each part may better have its own tone and be heard, if the pedal and manual are used together."

The range of parts in Schlick’s organ music requires the pedal to play one or two voices. (Four voices are played by the pedals in Ascendo ad Patrem.) Schlick knew about registering the pedal at 16' with the manual at 8' but advised against it on the grounds that the harmony would be inverted when the pedal line crossed above the manual. However, one of his compositions, Pete quid vis, has a passage where the pedal crosses above the manual and produces 6/4 chords that aren't treated properly. In this exceptional case, I used the Pedal 16’ Principal of the Fritts organ.

Recreating the organ music in Schlick’s Tablaturen has given me the opportunity to bring to fruition a long collaboration with Stephen Keyl, whom I first met while pursuing undergraduate studies at Duke University. Steve went on to write the definitive study of Arnolt Schlick as his 1989 Ph.D. dissertation, and he very generously allowed me to publish and perform from his edition of Schlick’s Ascendo ad patrem. Upon accepting my current position at ASU in 1998, I was delighted to discover that he was working as an organist in nearby Tucson, Arizona. Just this past year, his church signed a contract with Paul Fritts for a new instrument, so I look forward to many more years of working together! I am honored to have his insightful program notes grace this recording.

Thanks to my former student and colleague, Syke Hart, an expert on Catholic liturgy, we were able to present Schlick’s Salve regina and Buchner’s Agnus dei in alternatim with plainsong. Skye also sang the devotional Maria zart to present the lovely song on which Schlick’s trio setting was based.

Roger Sherman is the recording engineer/producer par excellence, and I am indebted to him for his expertise in bringing the first printed organ music to modern listeners in its 500th anniversary year.

—Kimberly Marshall

The invention of music printing by Ottaviano Petrucci in 1501 was a major event, ushering in a new and powerful way of disseminating music to musicians and audiences. Petrucci’s first prints were for ensembles of singers or instrumentalists. Before long, printed music appeared for solo instrumentalists as well. In 1512 Arnolt Schlick published a slender volume of music, some for organ and some for lute, titled Tabulaturen etlicher lobgesang und lidlin (“Tabulatures of a few sacred and secular songs”). This was the first printed organ music.

Schlick, born about 1460, was organist at the Electoral court in Heidelberg. At this time the organ was evolving into an instrument capable of providing a wide variety of tone colors through the refinement of stop mechanisms and the invention of new stops, especially colorful reeds. Schlick’s experience as an organ consultant in Alsace, the Palatinate, and elsewhere exposed him to new developments in organ building. He drew on this experience in a handbook for organ patrons describing many of the stops newly available, the Spiegel der Orgelmacher (“Mirror of Organ Builders”), published a year before the Tabulaturen appeared. Together, Schlick’s two publications provide both a vivid description of the organ of his time and place and a practical demonstration of its possibilities.

Music for organ, like the instrument itself, was also evolving during Schlick’s lifetime. In the mid-15th century much organ music was based on a cantus firmus to which one or more parts were added. The added parts typically bore little or no relation to one another and proceeded in notes of equal length. The great master of this mid 15th-century style was Conrad Paumann, whose Fundamentum offers practice in improvising on cantus firmi that move in various ways: repeated notes, movement by step, movement by third, and so on. Many of Schlick’s organ works are also based on cantus firmi, but the added parts are rhythmically varied and often make use of imitation, a device virtually unknown in organ music before Schlick’s day. The organ works of Schlick that are not based on cantus firmi are structured in similar ways to the vocal polyphony of his day: by points of imitation, cadences, and changes in texture. Schlick’s organ music brought the compositional style of the most up-to-date vocal works into the purview of the keyboard, and its artistry fully justifies the high reputation Schlick enjoyed in his lifetime.

Recorded here are Arnolt Schlick’s complete organ works, both those printed in his Tabulaturen and the magnificent ten-part Ascendo ad patrem sent in manuscript to the Bishop of Trent. Also included are a few works by Schlick’s forerunner Conrad Paumann and Schlick’s contemporaries Hans Kotter, Paul Hofhaimer, Leonhard Kleber, and Hans Buchner. Not recorded are the eight settings of Gaude dei genitrix that Schlick sent to the Bishop of Trent along with Ascendo ad patrem. Interesting and impressive though the Gaude settings are, they are contrapuntal demonstrations rather than organ compositions and could not have been played on the organ Schlick described in his Spiegel der Orgelmacher.

Arnolt Schlick: Salve regina

The Marian antiphon Salve regina was known throughout Renaissance Europe and was set for organ by Paumann, Hofhaimer, and others, as well as by Schlick. Many churches held evening devotional services at which this antiphon was sung. A Salve service was held in Heidelberg in February 1511 as part of the festivities for the marriage of Schlick’s patron, Elector Ludwig V, to Sibylle von Bayern. Schlick may have played the organ for this service, performing a version of the same Salve regina that he would publish the following year. The antiphon consists of nine verses of varying length. Organ settings of the chant melody usually set only the odd-numbered verses, leaving the rest to be chanted in alternation with the organ verses.

I. Salve regina

A vigorous four-part opening verse presents the chant melody in the tenor. The other parts, each in turn, present a wide-ranging countermelody rising and then falling through a twelfth. When this countermelody appears in the bass, it runs the full range of the pedal keyboard of Schlick’s day, demonstrating what a virtuoso organist could do in the pedal. As the verse progresses, its energy increases as the countermelody is both fragmented and presented in quicker notes.

III. Ad te clamamus

In this verse, rather than inventing a countermelody for imitative treatment, Schlick treats the chant melody itself in imitation. The full melody appears in the bass as a cantus firmus, while the remaining three voices enter with the opening notes of the chant melody before breaking into independent motivic interplay.

V. Eia ergo, advocata

In the longest verse of the Salve, the chant melody appears in the highest part while two lower voices first foreshadow the chant melody, then exchange melodic ideas in quicker rhythm. Toward the end of the verse, the highest voice leaves the cantus firmus to join in the motivic play.

VII. O pia

Normally the seventh verse of the Salve regina is “O clemens” and the eighth “O pia.” Schlick reverses the order, perhaps reflecting local tradition. In any case, the melodies for the two short verses “O clemens” and “O pia” are nearly identical. The cantus firmus appears in the alto in very long notes, making what would otherwise be the shortest verse comparable in length to the others. The bass begins by rising through the entire length of the pedal keyboard; then the tenor enters, also in the pedal, while the discantus plays a flowing melody above the rest. In the Spiegel, Schlick had described playing two or three parts in the pedal. This verse illustrates his double-pedal technique.

IX. O dulcis Maria

In the final Salve verse, Schlick places the chant melody in the bass while the upper voices chase each other in short motives treated imitatively, giving the verse an active, decisive character well suited to its position at the close of a large, multi-verse work.

Hans Kotter: Salve regina

Hans Kotter, a pupil of Paul Hofhaimer, wrote two Salve regina settings for organ, though only the first verse survives of one. The Salve verse heard here, copied between 1515 and 1517, is in three voices, with the chant melody in the middle voice. The scalar countermelody beginning with a dotted rhythm is reminiscent of the opening verse of Schlick’s Salve, and one or two other passages of this verse seem to quote Schlick’s piece. One wonders whether Kotter knew Schlick’s published Salve, or perhaps had heard the Heidelberg master play it.

Schlick: Pete quid vis

No model or liturgical function for this piece (whose title means “Ask what you wish”) has yet been identified. Nevertheless it is one of the most attractive in Schlick’s publication, full of variety and unified by the frequent use of a theme beginning f–g–a–b-flat. Especially notable are an extended duet at the opening, a change to triple meter near the end, and in the middle some short passages of lightly decorated homophony that invite the player to present contrasting sounds on different manuals, a practice Schlick advocates in the Spiegel as “giving much pleasure to the ear.”

Schlick: Hoe losteleck (“How beautiful”)

The retention of the Dutch title of this May song suggests that it is an intabulation of a Dutch vocal model. Although no song with these words has been found, a related tune was set to a text that uses springtime images to describe Christ’s cross. Another text in the same source describes Christ’s cross as a spiritual maypole. The Dutch text would not have been understood at the Heidelberg court, but Schlick’s polyphonic rendering would have been appreciated for its musical value. Like Maria zart, another devotional song in the vernacular, Hoe losteleck presents the complete melody, often ornamented, in the top voice.

Hofhaimer, Was ich durch Glück; Hofhaimer, Zucht, Ehr und Lob

Not all Renaissance organ music was sacred. These two pieces are intabulations, or arrangements for organ, of secular songs by Paul Hofhaimer, who besides his fame as an organist was one of the leading composers of German polyphonic song at the turn of the 16th century. The source for these arrangements is the tablature book of Hofhaimer’s pupil Hans Kotter; the arranger is usually assumed to be Kotter though it may have been Hofhaimer himself. The texts of the original songs are high-minded love poems: “Was ich durch Glück” complains of the rumors spread by the “Klaffer” (gossip or slanderer), a stock villain in medieval courtly poetry, while “Zucht, Ehr und Lob” praises the noble qualities of the beloved. The songs, originally in four parts, follow the usual pattern in presenting a memorable melody in the tenor, a tuneful discantus and bass, and an extremely active alto part. The intabulations omit the alto and add figuration to the discantus, making it more prominent than the tenor.

Schlick: Benedictus

The title Benedictus suggests a connection with the Mass. The organ sometimes sounded in place of the choir in portions of the Mass, and this piece as printed by Schlick could easily be an ornamented arrangement of a vocal original. But no vocal model for it has been discovered, and the composer may well have been Schlick himself. The piece begins with imitation in all three voices and ends with an ostinato figure in the bass that drives the piece to an energetic close.

Isaac: Benedictus

In this context, it is interesting to hear a Benedictus setting by Schlick’s contemporary, Heinrich Isaac, who worked as court composer for Emperor Maximilian I. Unlike Schlick’s work in four parts requiring the use of pedal, Isaac’s piece is in three parts for manuals only. Lively figuration punctuates the voices accompanying the long notes of the Benedictus.

Schlick: Primi toni

As its title indicates, Primi toni is in the first or Dorian mode, transposed to G. The piece does not make use of imitation and does not appear to be based on a cantus firmus. It may have served as a prelude, though it does not resemble the Praeludia of other Renaissance keyboard composers, which typically alternate chords with rapid passage work. Instead it offers transparent, non-imitative polyphony, with frequent use of parallel tenths and a clear harmonic focus.

Conrad Paumann: Incipit Fundamentum–Sequuntur Redeuntes–Redeuntes in idem

This set of three short pieces shows the artistry of the leading German organist of the generation before Schlick. Conrad Paumann, born in Nuremberg about 1410, was affiliated with the Bavarian ducal court; his tombstone may still be seen in the Frauenkirche in Munich. Paumann’s Fundamentum is both a guide to improvisation practices and a collection of organ repertory; it survives in several versions copied by his students. The Fundamentum’s opening piece is a kind of prelude; it is followed by demonstration pieces showing how brilliant figuration can be added to repeated notes (“redeuntes”) that an organist might encounter while improvising on a chant melody.

Schlick: Maria zart

Schlick’s best-known composition, Maria zart or “Gentle Mary,” is based on a Marian devotional song that was widely popular in the early 1500s. Jacob Obrecht wrote a Mass on the melody, Ludwig Senfl arranged the tune for four voices, and Schlick himself arranged still another polyphonic setting of it for voice and lute. In Schlick’s organ composition, the melody appears in complete form in the highest part while the other two voices exchange fragments of it, interspersed with other material, in a work of great charm. Each of the three voices is in its own distinct range, giving the piece a clear and transparent texture.

Kleber, Maria zart

Leonhard Kleber (c. 1495–1556) may have been a pupil of Schlick: he studied at the University of Heidelberg and later held positions in the neighboring region. Kleber compiled a large tablature book which includes his own setting of Maria zart. Kleber’s composition on this tune is in distinct contrast to Schlick’s: it is in four voices, all lying rather low on the keyboard, and all active simultaneously through most of the piece. This results in a denser texture than Schlick’s lighter, more transparent setting of Maria zart. But Kleber’s piece has its own charm, especially in the beautifully ornamented highest part. The cantus firmus is in the pedal.

Schlick: Christe

Like the Benedictus on Track 15, Schlick’s Christe probably belongs to the Ordinary of the Mass. No vocal model has been discovered, and the piece may be Schlick’s own composition rather than an intabulation of a vocal work. It begins with a long duet between the tenor and discantus parts before the bass enters. There is no cantus firmus; like much of the vocal polyphony of Schlick’s time, the Christe uses imitation between the voices as a structural principle.

Schlick: Da pacem

Schlick published three settings of Da pacem, the antiphon for peace, in his Tabulaturen. The first, in three voices, presents the cantus firmus in the highest part. The lower two voices begin by foreshadowing the chant melody, then exchange short melodic ideas in quicker note values. Toward the close, when the discantus has reached the end of the chant, it too breaks into quicker notes, joining in the interplay with the other voices. The second Da pacem setting, in four voices, gives the cantus firmus to the tenor in long notes while the other three voices present independent material. Sometimes one hears brief snatches of imitation, but more striking is the florid, rhythmically nuanced melody in the discantus. The highly unusual chord on A-flat about three-quarters of the way through this setting illustrates a unique feature of the tuning system, similar to meantone, that Schlick had advocated in the Spiegel: Schlick required a consonant A-flat, sacrificing G-sharp in the process. The third Da pacem setting is in four voices, with the chant melody in the bass. Though the setting is enlivened by points of imitation, there are few rests. The full texture and powerful sense of forward movement seem to call for full organ.

Hans Buchner: two setting of Agnus dei

Buchner’s Fundamentum, copied c. 1520 (about 70 years after Paumann’s), contains the earliest information on keyboard fingering and ornamentation. Buchner’s mordant is to be executed on long notes with the 3rd finger of the right hand holding the main note while the second finger rapidly plays and releases the note underneath. This creates a blurring of the two notes that accentuates the melody. Following his explanations of performance practice, Buchner includes organ settings based on chant for use in alternatim. The Agnus dei settings recorded here are for the feast of Epiphany. Both are manualiter pieces in four parts, exploiting alternation between the two lowest and the two highest voices in the manner of Josquin.

Schlick: Ascendo ad patrem

In 1520 or 1521, almost a decade after publishing his Tabulaturen, Arnolt Schlick sent a gift of two compositions to Bernhard Cles, the bishop of Trent. Schlick might have met the bishop in 1519, when Cles visited Heidelberg to secure the vote of Schlick’s patron in the election of Charles V as Holy Roman King. (The title “Holy Roman Emperor” was accorded years later at a second coronation.) In a letter sent with the music, Schlick writes that the compositions were sent in honor of Charles’s coronation as king, which occurred in 1520. Though many have assumed that Schlick performed these pieces at the coronation, this seems unlikely: Schlick’s letter would surely have mentioned such a performance if it had occurred.

The compositions Schlick sent to Bishop Cles are a group of eight settings of the Marian sequence Gaude dei genitrix and two settings of the antiphon Ascendo ad patrem. The Gaude settings, notated in two parts with verbal instructions for doubling one or both parts at various intervals, are a masterpiece of contrapuntal art, but they are not organ music. But the Ascendo settings, particularly the second in ten parts, show Schlick’s organ virtuosity at its pinnacle. The two-part setting (labeled “Bicinium,” an early use of that word) places the chant melody in the lower voice, rhythmically varied and lightly embellished, with a lively contrapuntal voice above it. The ten-part setting, according to Schlick’s letter, is to be played with four parts in the pedal and six on the manual keyboard, a richness of texture unsurpassed in organ music of any era, and going beyond even the two- or three-part pedal writing that Schlick had described in the Spiegel. The cantus firmus is placed in the second tenor part, though few listeners will be able to distinguish it among the other nine. The four voices given to the pedal are carefully constructed to be playable with the toe and heel of each foot. They are as active and intricate as the parts given to the hands: a rising sequential pattern prominent near the end is given to the highest pedal part. Ascendo ad patrem, Schlick’s last known composition, is one of the greatest splendors of Renaissance organ music.

—Stephen Keyl

Average Customer Review: Average Customer Review: 5 of 5 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 1 Write a review.

  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Congtatulations to Dr. Marshall September 21, 2012
Reviewer: Alexander Rusakov from Houston, TX United States  
My warmest and heartfelt congratulations to Kimberly Marshall on releasing this truly gorgeous CD with so infrequently performed early music! What a treat! Let me express the hope that Dr. Marshall will continue her exploration along these lines and will dazzle the lovers of organ music with the beauty of creations of great old masters.

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