Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/107

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LASSUS.
95
 

Daser, was a distinguished composer in his time, but a single 'Fuga' is all that has been left to us.[1] Being an old man, he would probably have retired in favour of Lassus, as he did a few years later, but it was thought better for the new comer to acquire the language of the country before undertaking so responsible a post, and he was therefore appointed a chamber musician. He seems to have settled at once into his new position, for the next year (1558) he married Regina Weckinger, a maid of honour at the court. The marriage proved a very happy one, and Van Quickelberg speaks of the children, whom he must have known at a very early age (1565), as 'elegantissimi.' At any rate they did very well afterwards. The four sons, Ferdinand, Ernest, Rudolph and Jean, all became musicians, and the two daughters were married—one of them, Regina, to the Seigneur d'Ach, one of the court painters.

In his subordinate position Lassus did not publish much, though, as the next paragraph shows, he wrote continually. The next two or three years produced a second book of 21 madrigals (á 5), and a book of chansons (á 4, 5, 6), the latter containing the 5-part chanson 'Susanne un jour,' to which Burney refers in his History (iii. 262), as well as a 6-part setting of the 'Tityre, tu patulæ,' which is quite simple in effect, and has a very beautiful last movement. We observe at once the great care which Orlando takes of the quantities of the Latin words.

In the year 1562 Daser is allowed to retire on his full salary, and

'The Duke seeing that Master Orlando had by this time learnt the language, and gained the good will and love of all, by the propriety and gentleness of his behaviour, and that his compositions (in number infinite) were universally liked, without loss of time elected him master of the chapel, to the evident pleasure of all. And, indeed, with all his distinguished colleagues, he lived so quietly and peacefully, that all were forced to love him, to respect him in his presence, and to praise him in his absence.'

From this time Lassus appears principally as a composer for the church, and it is worth remarking that in this same year the subject of music was discussed by the Council of Trent, and a resolution passed to reform some of the glaring defects in the style of church composition. Lassus' great works, being of a subsequent date, are as entirely free from the vagaries of his predecessors as are the later works of Palestrina. [See Josquin.]

The new chapel-master, in the June of the same year, prints his first book of entirely sacred music—'Sacræ cantiones, á 5' (25 nos.), of which 'Veni in hortum' has been published by [2]Commer, 'Angelus ad pastores' by [3]Rochlitz, and 'Benedicam Dominum' by [4]Proske.

But it was not alone as a church composer that Lassus was anxious at once to assert his new position. He soon showed special qualifications as conductor of the choir. 'One great quality,' says Massimo Trojano,[5] 'was the firmness and genius he evinced when the choir were singing, giving the time with such steadiness and force, that, like warriors taking courage at the sound of the trumpet, the expert singers needed no other orders than the expression of that powerful and vigorous countenance to animate their sweetly -sounding voices.' The portrait which we here give, and which is now engraved for the first time, has been photographed[6] from the magnificent manuscript copy of Lassus's music to the Penitential Psalms, which forms one of the ornaments of the Royal State Library at Munich. The inscription round the outside of the oval is 'In [7]corde prudentis requiescit sapientia et indoctos quosque erudiet. Pro. xiiii.,' showing in how favourable and honourable a light a great musician was regarded in the 16th century.

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In the autumn Lassus must have gone to Venice, taking his new 'Cantiones' with him; for though Gardane does not print them till 1565, the preface to his edition is signed by the composer, and dated 'Venetiis 1562 die 1. Nov.' He also left behind him a third set of 13 madrigals, published there in the following year. Van Quickelberg also speaks of a visit to Antwerp about this time; and the publications for the year 1564—two books of chansons, one printed in that city, the other at Louvain—corroborate

  1. See the name in Eitner's Bibliographie (Berlin, 1877). p. 224.
  2. Musica Sacra, x. 47 (Trautwein).
  3. Sammlung Gesangstücke, l. 15 (Schott).
  4. Musica Divina, ii. 250 (Ratisbon, 1853).
  5. Discorsi delli triomphi, etc., nelle nozze dell' illustrissimo duca Guglielmo, etc., da Massimo Trojano (Monaco, Berg, 1568).
  6. The Editor desires to express his special thanks to Professor Halm, the Director of the Royal State Library, for the prompt kindness with which he granted permission and gave every facility for the photographing of the portrait. Another portrait from the same MS., on a smaller scale, full length and in a long gown, is lithographed and given in Delmotte's Life of Lassus.
  7. Thus rendered in the Douay Version—'In the heart of the prudent resteth wisdom, and it shall instruct all the Ignorant.' The artist has incorrectly written 'in doctos.'