Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/113

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LASSUS.
101
 

one of those glimpses into the coming world of music which Ambros (Geschichte, iii. 356) traces in others of his works. It is however only in the first page or two that we find the music so astonishingly near our own idea of the opening of a Requiem.

And here his life's work seems to end; in the next volume of the 'Patrocinium Musices' we find other names, and nothing bears Orlando's but 12 German part-songs. Then an utter blank. The fresh effort to work had completely prostrated him, but death did not come at once to his relief. His wife Regina finds him one day so ill that he fails to recognise her. The Princess Maxmiliana sends Dr. Mermann, at once, and there is a temporary recovery, but the mind is still at fault. 'Cheerful and happy no longer,' says Regina, 'he has become gloomy and speaks only of death.' Promises of the Duke's further bounty have no effect upon his spirits. He even writes to his patron, complaining that he has never carried out his father Albert's intentions towards him, and it needs all that Regina and the Princess Maxmiliana can do to soften the effect of this act. He died at Munich in June 1594. This date is taken from a letter written afterwards by his wife. The two publications 'Lagrime di S. Pietro,' signed May 24, 1594, and 'Cantiones Sacræ' (Feast of S. Michael, 1594), may imply that his death did not take place till 1595, and that he had so far temporarily recovered as to take an interest in the publication of some old works, or perhaps even to write new ones; but it is natural to prefer the date given by his wife, in which case we must suppose these works to have been edited by other hands. He was buried in the cemetery of the Franciscans at Munich. When the monastery was destroyed, the monument which had been erected over his grave was removed, and kept in the possession of a private family. It was set up in the present century in the garden of the 'Academic des Beaux Arts,' at Munich. Many more details of all these things are given by Delmotte, to whom we refer the reader.

After Orlando's death his sons edited many of his works. Thus Rudolph the organist edited 'Prophetæ Sibyllarum (à 4) chromatico more' in 1600, and Ferdinand the chapel-master printed 4 of his own Magnificats with 5 of his father's in 1602. In 1604 they together issued 'Magnum opus musicum O. de Lasso,' by which work they have immortalised themselves, preserving in 6 volumes of a moderate size, most clearly and beautifully printed, no less than 516 sacred and secular motets. The addition of bars is all that is required to give the work a completely modern form. Dehn is said to have transcribed the whole of it. Ferdinand, the elder brother, died in 1609 at about 50 years of age, leaving several children, one of whom, also called Ferdinand, was sent to Italy for his musical education, and was afterwards Chapel-master to duke Maximilian I. Rudolph, after his brother's death, edited '6 Missæ posthumæ O. di Lasso' (1610) and 100 Magnificats (1619), most of them hitherto unpublished. The two Ferdinands and Rudolph were all eminent composers, and it is said that when the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus, entered Munich in 1632, he visited Rudolph at his house and ordered compositions from him.

We have mentioned the principal works published by Lassus in his lifetime or edited afterwards by his sons. Counted in separate numbers Eitner[1] brings their total to over 1300. This does not include many detached pieces published in collections of music by various composers. Again, the unpublished MSS. are very numerous. When all these are counted, the sacred and secular works are said to amount to about 1600 and 800 respectively, the chief items being 51 masses, about 1200 sacred motets and cantiones, 370 chansons, and over 230 madrigals. Of such works as have appeared in modern notation by the labours of Commer, Proske, Dehn, Van Maldeghem, etc., we may say roughly that they represent about an eighth part of the composer's complete works.

Lassus was the last great Netherland master. His native land for 200 years had been as prominent in music as Germany has been in later times. Italy, a second home to every great Belgian musician since the time of Dufay, was at length to receive the reward for her hospitality, and to produce a composer to compete with the proudest of them. Josquin and Orlando were to find their equal in the Italian pupil of their countryman Goudimel.

Palestrina is often said to have overturned the whole fabric of existing church music in a few days by writing some simple masses for Pope Marcellus. For the truth of this story we refer the reader to the article on Palestrina. It serves well enough as a legend to illustrate the reformation which music had been undergoing since Josquin's time. The simpler church music did not indeed take the place of the older and more elaborate forms of the Josquin period at a few strokes of Palestrina's pen. Even in the writings of Josquin himself the art can be seen gradually clearing itself from meaningless and grotesque difficulties; and there were plenty of good composers, two very great ones, Gombert and Clement, coming between Josquin and Lassus or Palestrina. The simplicity of Lassus' church music as early as 1565 shows that the story of the causes of Palestrina's revolution must not be accepted too literally. The Belgian brought up in Italy, and the Italian pupil of a Belgian, were by no means so widely separated as their too eager friends sometimes try to prove them. Side by side in art, they laboured alike to carry on the work of the great Josquin, and make the mighty contrapuntal means at their disposal more and more subservient to expressional beauty. It seems that the simple forms of expression which Lassus and Palestrina were so often content to use, owed something to the influence of secular music, even though the composers may not have been conscious of drawing directly from such a source.

  1. Verzeichniss der gedruckten Werke von O. de Lassus (Trautwein, 1874).