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The 'Swiss Orpheus' - Ludwig Sennfl

Quotations from the text
Opening words of the book...................

This is not a book only about one man and his music. It is about the whole social, religious, political and musical life in one area of Germany that made it possible for one man to produce the music that he did.



Extract from Chapter 12

Apart from being, I suspect, a crucial part of Sennfl’s early musical education (see Chapter 1 on Hofhaimer’s training) he appeared to use the polyphonic lied rather like the chorus in a Greek play, to comment on things happening in his world, to complain about situations, and to tell parts of his own life story. Certainly he uses songwriting both to celebrate his loves and successes and to drown his sorrows, thus encompassing the whole of the spectrum of human life through his music.

Extract from Chapter 5

Sennfl was back in Vienna in 1513 and became musicus intonator for the Kapelle. Around this time he began to be involved with a group of humanists which included Petrus Tritonius (c1485-1525), Joachim Vadian (1484-1551) and Simon Minervius (1500-1573) to discuss among other things classical poetry and metre. This was a powerful and influential group of Viennese scholars whose fame was wide-ranging. Probably as a hangover from medieval thought composers were often linked with learned men as music was associated with science and mathematics, whereas musical performers were more associated with entertainment such as fools and players (Paul Hofhaimer’s general celebrity status, due to his musical prowess must have been fairly unusual, although excellence in a musical field seemed to be quite common in some areas of Germany at this time).  However, thus it was that Sennfl’s fame must have been spread throughout Germany by being associated with classicists, scholars and theorists.
Extract from Chapter 9

A week later Dr Apel revealed in a letter to Albrecht the nature of the gift Sennfl was to receive, and he also comments about the difficulty of sending things so far away:


Most merciful Lord and Master.  When I had already sealed the other letter to your grace, this letter from Ludwig Senfl Schweitzer reached me, which I herewith also send to you.  And this is the state of affairs.  The drinking cups, covered with gold and bearing both princely coats of arms, have been made and are still here in Nürmberg, with Hieronymus Baumgartner, one of my masters.  He has seen to it that Schweitzer received the 50 fl, and so far I have not found a reliable driver, to whom the gem might be entrusted. 

Quotations from the text