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ANDRZEJ HAKENBERGER  

(1574 - 1627)

Andreas Hakenberger was a musician who spent his entire professional career within the territory of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland: in Kraków, possibly in Warsaw, and also in Gdańsk. He was born in Pomerania in 1573 or 1574. It is not known where he trained as a musician. From at least 1602, possibly even 1599, he was employed as a singer in the music chapel of the Polish king Sigismund III Vasa. In the court accounts, his name occasionally appears in the group of ‘Polish musicians’. In those days, the royal chapel numbered almost 40 musicians, and it was led by the Umbrian-born Asprilio Pacelli, who trained in Rome. Many other Italians also worked in that ensemble, including Vincenzo Bertolusi, Vincenzo Gigli (Lilius), Giulio Osculati, Antonio Patart and Giovanni Valentini. They all composed, and Hakenberger no doubt learned a great deal from them. He made his debut as a composer with the five-part motet In die magna, published in the anthology Melodiae sacrae (Kraków, 1604), which consisted of motets (some of them polychoral) written by the king’s musicians. In later years, the cori spezzati technique, which entered the repertoire of the royal chapel thanks to the Italians, became Hakenberger’s favourite composition technique.

In June 1607, Hakenberger, a Catholic by confession, applied to Gdańsk City Council for the prestigious post of chapel-master at the Lutheran Church of St Mary’s, which had become vacant. He appended to his letter two works attesting to his compositional mastery. For several months, the councillors debated whether to entrust the liturgical music in their city’s most important church to a ‘papist’, but ultimately the artistic arguments prevailed. The councillors were won over by Hakenberger’s polychoral output in the Venetian style that was becoming increasingly popular north of the Alps. It was considered that a musician, after all, was not a theologian, so his confession presented no real threat to the congregation, and at the beginning of 1608 the composer was awarded the position. Initially employed for one year, he ultimately remained chapel-master at St Mary’s to the end of his life, leading an ensemble of around 20 musicians. He died in 1627 and was buried on 5 June in the Catholic Church of St Nicholas.

Role: Classical Composer 
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