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8.555876 - SCHEIDEMANN, H.: Organ Works, Vol. 4 (Brown)
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Heinrich Scheidemann (c

Heinrich Scheidemann (c. 1595-1663)

Organ Works, Vol. 4


Born in about 1595 in Wöhrden in Holstein, where his father, a native of Hamburg, had recently been appointed organist, Heinrich Scheidemann studied between 1611 and 1614 with Sweelinck in Amsterdam. His father had moved from Wöhrden by 1604 to take the position of organist at the Catharinenkirche in Hamburg, and the church supported his son’s study, In der Hoffnung, dass er ein braver Künstler und dereinst ihr Org. werden sollte (in the hope that he might become a fine artist and some day an organist). When his studies in Amsterdam came to an end Sweelinck wrote a farewell canon for him, with the dedication Ter eeren des vromen Jongkmans Henderich Scheijtman, van Hamborgh, is dit geschreven bij mij, Jan P. Sweelinck, organist tot Amsterdam, op den 12den Novemb. 1614 (For the worthy young man Heinrich Scheidemann of Hamburg this is written by me, Jan P.Sweelinck, organist of Amsterdam, on 12th November 1614). In the late 1620s, and at least by 1629, he succeeded his father as organist at the Catharinenkirche, and in 1633 was appointed clerk of the church, marrying in the following year the daughter of a doctor.


During his years at Hamburg Scheidemann established himself as an important figure in the world of North German organ music. His pupils included J.A.Reincken, later his assistant and successor, Werner Fabricius, who became organist at the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, Wolfgang Wessnitzer of Celle, Jakob Lorentz of the Waisenhaus in Hamburg, and others of contemporary distinction. He served as a consultant on the construction of new instruments in Brunswick, Lübeck, Bremen and elsewhere, and saw to the enlargement of his own instrument at the Catharinenkirche by the organ-builder Gottfried Fritzsche, with the addition of a Brustwerk to make a four-manual instrument with the existing Hauptwerk, Rückpositiv, and Oberwerk, pedals and 56 stops. He died during an epidemic of the plague in Hamburg in 1663, and his widow, in recognition of her husband’s services, received a pension from the city.


Scheidemann’s important Magnificat settings were discovered in 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 of the canticle, seemingly, in Hamburg tradition, replacing the third, fifth, seventh and ninth of these. Scheidemann’s cycle of Magnificat verses uses the eight psalm tones, two of which are here included. The Magnificat I Toni presents the psalm tone in the tenor in the first versus. This is elaborated in the extended second versus, a chorale fantasia, with an ornate upper part of varied rhythms, with echo effects as it proceeds. The third versus, a chorale ricercare, is plainer in texture, each voice suggesting the intonation of the psalm tone as it enters. The setting ends with a fourth versus for the manuals only. Here the right hand introduces the psalm tone, while the left hand provides a running counterpoint, moving into a three-part texture.


The rising triad of the fifth psalm tone opens the first versus of the Magnificat V Toni, with the cantus firmus in the pedals. This intonation provides the starting-point for the more elaborate chorale fantasia of the second versus. The psalm tone is heard in the upper part at the beginning of the third versus, before its entry on the pedals. The same rising triad is heard in the tenor, the pedals and then the upper part in the chorale ricercare of the fourth versus.


There are twelve embellished versions of motets by other composers among Scheidemann’s organ compositions. The origin of one of these is uncertain, while one is by Hieronymus Praetorius, three by Hassler and seven by Orlando de Lassus. The first of the two here included of these last, Benedicam Domino, is a fine example of a form that was still an important element of the form in organ music of the time. The second is a decorated version of the five-voice De ore prudentis procedit mel (From the mouth of the wise comes forth honey) of 1565. The great Franco-Flemish composer Orlando de Lassus, who died in 1594 after years of service at the Bavarian court in Munich, left a vast quantity of music, including a very large number of motets. Scheidemann’s embellishments of these may be seen as a tribute to the earlier composer, and examples of generally improvised contemporary practice.


The Praeambulum in F major, a characteristic prelude, has a fugal middle section in which the subject is inverted. The Praeambulum in D minor, one of six in that key, follows the same form, with a four-voice central fugal section. The other example of the form included here, the Praeambulum in G minor, is also in the same form, with an introductory section leading to more elaborate fugal writing. A further element is heard in the descending chromatic notes spanning the interval of a fourth, introduced as a later countersubject. It has been suggested that the Canzona in F major represents the influence of Frescobaldi, by way of Froberger and Scheidemann’s pupil, Matthias Weckmann, organist from 1655 at the Hamburg church of St Jacobi. Characteristic of the Italian form, the work is in three sections, opening in quadruple metre, with a middle section in 3/2 and an alla breve final section, exploring imitative textures.


Scheidemann was an important figure in the development of chorale arrangements, following the example of Sweelinck’s keyboard music. Jesus Christus, unser Heiland (Jesus Christ, our Saviour), the third arrangement of the chorale, offers two verses, the second greatly elaborated. Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist (Now we pray the Holy Ghost), again taking a chorale melody from the Melodeyen-Gesangbuch of 1604, presents the hymn-tune in ornamented form. Mensch, willst du leben seliglich (Man, wilt thou live blessed) has the chorale melody played by the pedals but as a tenor in the first verse. In the second verse the melody, again on the pedals, is in the bass. In the third it is greatly elaborated in the upper part, to which the other parts provide an accompaniment, and in the fourth it is heard more plainly 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 part in 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 danken deiner Güt (O God, we thank thy goodness) the Melodeyen-Gesangbuch chorale is presented first in the upper part in a lilting 3/2 metre, followed by the quadruple metre second half of the melody. The same metrical pattern is followed in 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 chorale at first in the upper part, before the entry of the pedals. In the second verse it 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 solo song.


Keith Anderson

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