At the Sign of the Crumhorn: Flemish Songs and Dance Music
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Tielman Susato'sPublishing House "Inden Cromhorn", 1551
A milestone in the history of European culture was the invention ofprinting around 1440. The first occurrence of printed music is generallyreckoned to be the Venetian Ottavino Petrucci's famous note-books from 1501.
Around the middle of the sixteenth century another important music printer wasactive in Antwerp. This was Tielman Susato, who was also a composer, arrangerand municipal musician. He was born around 1500 and evidence exists to suggest thathe may have been German, Dutch or Flemish. He died sometime between 1561 and1564. Susato began publishing music in 1541-42, at first together with twoassociates, but from 1543 he published music on his own, mostly by Flemishcomposers: Masses, motets, madrigals and chansons. His successors usedmore common printing methods which did not produce such polished results, butwere much cheaper, which made published music more accessible, especially forthe middle classes who were becoming more and more culturally aware.
By 1551 Susato could afford to move his business to a new location, IndenCromhorn (At the sign of the Cromhorn). He felt sufficiently securefinancially to strike a blow for the Dutch, or Flemish, language. Flemish songsor liedekens had previously been dispersed throughout Europe inhand-written manuscripts, but they were not held in very high regard. Mostoften they were either translated into one of the 'major' languages such asFrench or German or simply used as a melodic underlay or cantus firmus forother types of compositions such as Mass movements, motets and purelyinstrumental works, sometimes retaining the first line of text in the title.
With great enthusiasm Susato succeeded in persuading some Franco-Flemishcomposers to join his cause to further the Dutch language, including in hiscollection the work of a few composers who had already died. The oldest ofthese wasJohannes Ghiselin, alias Jean Verbonnet, who was active in the fifteenthcentury (). Indeed Susato displays in his own compositions (, ,) both awareness of and fondness for such archaic composition styles andinflections (). There is, however, amongst his songs, one composition whichsounds to be almost half a century ahead of its time .
Thus Susato was able to gather 55 settings of Dutch texts in the firsttwo musyck boexkens (music books) of 1551, 28 in the first and 27 in thesecond, in some cases variants of the same song, such as  and . Thetitle page reads as follows: amoureuse liedekens in onser nederduytschertalen, Gecomponeert by diuersche componisten, zeer lustich om singen en spelenop alle musicale Instrumenten, Gedruckt Tantwerpen by Tielman Susato wonendeuoer die nieuue waghe Inden Cromhorn (Amorous songs in our Netherlandishtongue, composed by divers composers, very pleasing to sing and play on allmusical instruments, printed in Antwerp by Tielman Susato, residing at the signof the Crumhorn).
Susato's third publication that year was entitled Danserye, Het derdemusyck boexken (Danserie, the third Music Book) with a subtitle Alderhandedanserye (All manner of danceries) and it is this collection that is mostclosely associated with the name of Susato. The collection's 59 four-part dancemovements, based in many cases on French, Dutch or German folk-songs, end upsooner or later in the repertoire of most of today's early music ensembles, andrightly so, as Susato's dance arrangements with their carefully prepared partsare shining examples of their kind. To a greater extent than the music of hiscontemporaries, the parts in Susato's dance arrangements are often tightlyconstructed, lying in close proximity of one another. Susato probably had inmind a typical configuration of a descant in G, two tenors and a bass of the crumhornfamily.
One conservative feature of Susato's collection is the presence of thirteenbasse-dances, despite the fact that by the middle of the sixteenth century thisdance form was deemed old-fashioned. Sadly it seems that after his thirdcollection Susato had set his sights on more artistic endeavours, and hepublished no further dance books.
Although there was no direct successor to the books of secular liedekens,between 1556 and 1557 Susato published 150 Souterliedekens or psalms inDutch, in three-part settings by the renowned Jacobus Clemens non Papa, and in1561 he published a further 123, in four-part settings by his pupil GerardusMes. These psalm settings formed volumes 4-8 of Susato's musyck boexkens.
A large number of the works on this disc are by anonymous composers,most of whom were probably Franco-Flemish. Some of the composers, such asCarolus Soulia(e)rt or Swill(i)art are really only known to us through theircompositions that appear in Susato's Musyckboexkens. Of the othercomposers represented on this disc, biographical detail is often sketchy.
Benedictus Appenzeller was born between 1480 and 1488, probably of Swissorigin and may have been a pupil of Josquin Desprez. He was in charge of choralmusic at the court in Brussels from 1542 to 1551 and in 1542 he published acollection of chansons. He was also active in Bruges.
Josquin Baston (fl.1542-1563) was a Franco?¡-Flemish composer of motetsand songs. Six of his liedekens are preserved in print. After 1552 heseems to have worked abroad, at the courts of Poland, Denmark and Sweden.
Jacobus Clemens non Papa (c.1510-c.1555), also known as Jacques Clement,was also of Franco-Flemish origin. He produced a rich and varied body of work.
Like his predecessor (and possibly teacher) Lupus Hellinck, he was a priest whomanaged to combine a variety of positions as choral director and Kapellmeisterat various cathedrals and royal courts. After his music was published in1530 by Pierre Attaignant in Paris, he began a lengthy period of collaborationwith Tielman Susato in Antwerp, with Susato publishing the bulk of his work.
Clemens non Papa wrote sixteen Masses, fifteen Magnificats, more than230 motets for four to eight voices, 159 three-part psalm settings or Souterliedekens,around ninety chansons for three to eight voices, eight liedekens andassorted Mass movements and instrumental works.
Johannes Ghiselin (c.1455-c.1511), also known as Jean Verbonnet, isanother highly regarded Franco-Flemish composer of which we know relativelylittle. For many years, at least between the years of 1492 to 1503, he workedin Italy, and it was probably Ghiselin who persuaded Josquin Desprez to move tothe court in Ferrara. He returned to Flanders however, as we know he wasemployed as a singer in Bergen op Zoom in 1508. His works include Masses,motets, chansons and instrumental pieces as well as four liedekens. Oneof his Masses, the Missa Ghi syt di wertste boven al (Thou art the mosttreasured of all) is based on one of his own liedekens.
Lupus Hellinc(k) (c.1496-1541) was primarily active in Bruges. He was apriest and lay vicar, later subcantor or succentor and master of the choristersat the churches of Our Lady and St Donatius. His work is almost exclusivelysacred, including thirteen Masses, fourteen motets, eleven German chorales, sixchansons and four liedekens. His Nieuwe almanack endepronosticatie  (New almanack and prognosis), performed here oncornamuses and crumhorns, is actually a song dedicated to his bishop on thefeast of the Holy Innocents.
English Version: Andrew Smit