Heinrich Scheidemann (c. 1595-1663)
Organ Works, Vol. 4
Born in about 1595 in Wohrden in Holstein, where his father,a native of Hamburg, had recently been appointed organist, Heinrich Scheidemannstudied between 1611 and 1614 with Sweelinck in Amsterdam. His father had movedfrom Wohrden by 1604 to take the position of organist at the Catharinenkirchein Hamburg, and the church supported his son's study, In der Hoffnung, dass erein braver K??nstler und dereinst ihr Org. werden sollte (in the hope that hemight become a fine artist and some day an organist). When his studies inAmsterdam came to an end Sweelinck wrote a farewell canon for him, with thededication Ter eeren des vromen Jongkmans Henderich Scheijtman, van Hamborgh,is dit geschreven bij mij, Jan P. Sweelinck, organist tot Amsterdam, op den12den Novemb. 1614 (For the worthy young man Heinrich Scheidemann of Hamburgthis is written by me, Jan P.Sweelinck, organist of Amsterdam, on 12th November1614). In the late 1620s, and at least by 1629, he succeeded his father asorganist at the Catharinenkirche, and in 1633 was appointed clerk of thechurch, marrying in the following year the daughter of a doctor.
During his years at Hamburg Scheidemann established himselfas an important figure in the world of North German organ music. His pupilsincluded J.A.Reincken, later his assistant and successor, Werner Fabricius, whobecame organist at the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, Wolfgang Wessnitzer of Celle,Jakob Lorentz of the Waisenhaus in Hamburg, and others of contemporarydistinction. He served as a consultant on the construction of new instrumentsin Brunswick, L??beck, Bremen and elsewhere, and saw to the enlargement of hisown instrument at the Catharinenkirche by the organ-builder GottfriedFritzsche, with the addition of a Brustwerk to make a four-manual instrumentwith the existing Hauptwerk, R??ckpositiv, and Oberwerk, pedals and 56 stops. Hedied during an epidemic of the plague in Hamburg in 1663, and his widow, inrecognition of her husband's services, received a pension from the city.
Scheidemann's important Magnificat settings were discoveredin 1955 by Gustav Fock in a book of organ tablatures at Clausthal-Zellerfeld.The four organ verses were to be played at Vespers between the sung verses ofthe canticle, seemingly, in Hamburg tradition, replacing the third, fifth,seventh and ninth of these. Scheidemann's cycle of Magnificat verses uses theeight psalm tones, two of which are here included. The Magnificat I Tonipresents the psalm tone in the tenor in the first versus. This is elaborated inthe extended second versus, a chorale fantasia, with an ornate upper part ofvaried rhythms, with echo effects as it proceeds. The third versus, a choralericercare, is plainer in texture, each voice suggesting the intonation of thepsalm tone as it enters. The setting ends with a fourth versus for the manualsonly. Here the right hand introduces the psalm tone, while the left handprovides a running counterpoint, moving into a three-part texture.
The rising triad of the fifth psalm tone opens the firstversus of the Magnificat V Toni, with the cantus firmus in the pedals. Thisintonation provides the starting-point for the more elaborate chorale fantasiaof the second versus. The psalm tone is heard in the upper part at thebeginning of the third versus, before its entry on the pedals. The same risingtriad is heard in the tenor, the pedals and then the upper part in the choralericercare of the fourth versus.
There are twelve embellished versions of motets by othercomposers among Scheidemann's organ compositions. The origin of one of these isuncertain, while one is by Hieronymus Praetorius, three by Hassler and seven byOrlando de Lassus. The first of the two here included of these last, BenedicamDomino, is a fine example of a form that was still an important element of theform in organ music of the time. The second is a decorated version of thefive-voice De ore prudentis procedit mel (From the mouth of the wise comesforth honey) of 1565. The great Franco-Flemish composer Orlando de Lassus, whodied in 1594 after years of service at the Bavarian court in Munich, left avast quantity of music, including a very large number of motets. Scheidemann'sembellishments of these may be seen as a tribute to the earlier composer, andexamples of generally improvised contemporary practice.
The Praeambulum in F major, a characteristic prelude, has afugal middle section in which the subject is inverted. The Praeambulum in Dminor, one of six in that key, follows the same form, with a four-voice centralfugal section. The other example of the form included here, the Praeambulum inG minor, is also in the same form, with an introductory section leading to moreelaborate fugal writing. A further element is heard in the descending chromaticnotes spanning the interval of a fourth, introduced as a later countersubject.It has been suggested that the Canzona in F major represents the influence ofFrescobaldi, by way of Froberger and Scheidemann's pupil, Matthias Weckmann,organist from 1655 at the Hamburg church of St Jacobi. Characteristic of theItalian form, the work is in three sections, opening in quadruple metre, with amiddle section in 3/2 and an alla breve final section, exploring imitativetextures.
Scheidemann was an important figure in the development ofchorale arrangements, following the example of Sweelinck's keyboard music.Jesus Christus, unser Heiland (Jesus Christ, our Saviour), the thirdarrangement of the chorale, offers two verses, the second greatly elaborated.Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist (Now we pray the Holy Ghost), again taking achorale melody from the Melodeyen-Gesangbuch of 1604, presents the hymn-tune inornamented form. Mensch, willst du leben seliglich (Man, wilt thou liveblessed) has the chorale melody played by the pedals but as a tenor in thefirst verse. In the second verse the melody, again on the pedals, is in thebass. In the third it is greatly elaborated in the upper part, to which theother parts provide an accompaniment, and in the fourth it is heard moreplainly in the upper part. The second version of In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr(In thee have I hoped, Lord) has the 1560 Strassburg melody in the upper partin the first verse. The same procedure is largely followed in the second verse,with a third that offers the chorale in the pedals. In O Gott, wir dankendeiner G??t (O God, we thank thy goodness) the Melodeyen-Gesangbuch chorale ispresented first in the upper part in a lilting 3/2 metre, followed by thequadruple metre second half of the melody. The same metrical pattern is followedin the embellished second of the two verses. Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn(Lord Christ, only Son of God), the second of two arrangements, has the choraleat first in the upper part, before the entry of the pedals. In the second verseit is heard in various voices, before the ornamented melody in the upper part,to which the other parts provide an accompaniment, in the manner of a solosong.