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Thread: Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

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    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    Default Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

    I don't mean no disrespect, but every time I try Sweelinck again, I'm always kind of disappointed. How can a guy who wrote such noodly and kind-of-square keyboard music be considered one of the greatest keyboard composers of the early 17th century? Why do they cite him as a being a later influence on John Bull? I certainly don't hear that noodly squareness in my good boy Johnny Bull's gorgeous jewells! Sure, Bull was exiled from England and met up with Sweelinck in the Netherlands, but Bull's music just sounds so much more interesting. Even more baffling to me is that I've heard his influence was as far reaching as J.S. Bach!

    Maybe there I'm doing Sweelinck wrong. All I've really done is sight read his keyboard music on the piano and listen to harpsichord recordings. Is he better on the organ? Did he write some notable non-keyboard works? Can someone help me out here?

    Edit:
    As I suspected, he does indeed sound better on the organ. I guess I've been approaching him from the Fitzwilliam Virginal book perspective...
    Last edited by clavichorder; Sep-12-2012 at 18:02.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    Have you heard Gould play him?
    I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people don't like me anyway.

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    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hilltroll72 View Post
    Have you heard Gould play him?
    I've watched this video on youtube of him and thought it was one of the better things I've heard, I may benefit from a re-listening as my 'hearing aids' seem to have evolved more over the last few months:
    Last edited by clavichorder; Sep-12-2012 at 18:11.

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    Senior Member Renaissance's Avatar
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    Well, Sweelinck inspired Bach in same important ways, for example : "he was the first to write an organ fugue which began simply, with one subject, successively adding texture and complexity until a final climax and resolution, an idea which was perfected at the end of the Baroque era by Bach" (Wikipedia). Sweelinck was also the first who use the pedal as a real fugue-part. I think these contributions were really an important foundation for what Bach managed to succeed almost 100 years later. He was also an active composer for voice, having composed more than 250 work in this field. (chansons, madrigals, motets, few liturgical settings), but he was more conservative in this area. And he wasn't restricted only to the traditions of one church. Very unusual for that time...

    So, I guess his "greatness" may have something to do with the fact that he was the first to establish German organ tradition. I don't really like his keyboard works, like you said he sounds a lot better on organ.


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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    I've just discovered him - the Orpheus of Amsterdam - and am listening to Ton Koopman play his works on harpsichord.
    I like him; and he had a lot of influence, as said above. So I think he deserves some more appreciative entries in his own Composer Guestbook: fair is fair!
    Last edited by Ingélou; Dec-14-2014 at 21:06.
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    I'm the oddball here; I know Sweelinck through his vocal music. He writes imitative counterpoint that isn't cluttered. Maybe William Byrd is a comparison.

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    Senior Member regenmusic's Avatar
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    Enjoying: Sweelinck's Fantasia Chromatica in Werckmeister tuning on YT.
    Not Gould's playing, but someone else playing a harpsichord.

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Default Sweelinck Biography



    Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (Deventer April or May 1562 – Amsterdam, 16 October 1621) was a Dutch composer, organist, and pedagogue. The family moved to Amsterdam in 1564 and his father was organist of the Oude Kerk, dying in 1573. In 1578, Amsterdam became Calvinist as did Sweelinck. Although it is stated that he became organist of the Oude Kerk in 1577, the records are missing and we can only trace him from 1580. Sweelinck held the post until his death. As the city was Calvinist, he did not play during church services, but rather played metrical psalm tunes beforehand so that the congregation could become familiar with them. Sweelinck wrote settings for the entire psalter. One of his settings of psalm 23 appears in the Susanne van Soldt Manuscript showing the use of his music in pedagogy.



    His employment allowed him time for teaching, for which he was to become as famous as for his compositions. Sweelinck's pupils included the core of what was to become the north German organ school. Sweelinck most probably spent his entire life in Amsterdam, only occasionally visiting other cities in connection with his professional activities: he was asked to inspect organs, give opinions and advice on organ building and restoration, etc.

    Some of Sweelinck's innovations were of profound musical importance, including the fugue—he was the first to write an organ fugue which began simply, with one subject, successively adding texture and complexity until a final climax and resolution, an idea which was perfected at the end of the Baroque era by Bach. It is also generally thought that many of Sweelinck's keyboard works were intended as studies for his pupils. He was also the first to use the pedal as a real fugal part.



    Sweelinck's works also appear in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book - a recognition of his links to English composers such as Peter Philips a catholic recusant who spent much time in Brussels but who met Sweelinck in the 1590s. Phillips had worked for Thomas Paget who was a patron to William Byrd. John Bull also met Sweelinck after fleeing England on a charge of adultery (the Archbishop of Canterbury remarked the man hath more music than honesty and is as famous for marring of virginity as he is for fingering of organs and virginals). Bull wrote a series of variations on a theme of Sweelinck when Sweelinck died.



    Sweelinck was a master improviser, and acquired the informal title of the "Orpheus of Amsterdam". He represents the highest development of the Dutch keyboard school, and indeed represented a pinnacle in keyboard contrapuntal complexity and refinement before J.S. Bach. However, he was a skilled composer for voices as well, and composed more than 250 vocal works (chansons, madrigals, motets and Psalms).
    Last edited by Taggart; Dec-15-2014 at 15:04.
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    This is apparently a very influential and innovative work



    I hadn't heard of this composer before, so thank you Clavichorder for this thread and Ingélou for reviving it!

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    Senior Member ptr's Avatar
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    ^^ I can thoroughly recommend Harald Vogel's Sweelinck CD on MDG!



    @ the Schwalbennest-Orgel St. Marien Lemgo!

    Harald Vogel is one of the finest Baroque Organ interpreters!

    /ptr
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    just thinking, I enjoyed that piece above, but I someht hat agree on the "noodly squareness" aspect of his music. However, this is an aesthetic which I enjoyed in the above piece.

    I would like to hear some his choral music, can anyone recommend anything? Or even other organ music would be great.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ptr View Post
    ^^ I can thoroughly recommend Harald Vogel's Sweelinck CD on MDG!



    @ the Schwalbennest-Orgel St. Marien Lemgo!

    Harald Vogel is one of the finest Baroque Organ interpreters!

    /ptr
    Thanks ptr! exactly the sort of thing I'm after.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    This is all very nice. I must say how much I like Sweelinck's instrumental music. Manxfeeder has said that he appreciates the uncluttered line of Sweelinck's vocal music, so I hope (pretty please) that he'll come back and give some examples.
    Last edited by Ingélou; Dec-15-2014 at 15:04.
    ~ Mollie ~
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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Here is Clavichorder's example of Glenn Gould playing Sweelinck. Thanks, Clavichorder.
    http://youtu.be/NA1mBNfP2Yg
    ~ Mollie ~
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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    An example of Sweelinck's vocal music:

    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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