The Lute in Hymnody of Martin Luther

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Guitardunord
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The Lute in Hymnody of Martin Luther

Post by Guitardunord » Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:41 pm

I am primarily a classical and flamenco guitarist, but I also play Renaissance lute. I do a program on The Music of Martin Luther. He was a talented musician; singer, lutenist, and composer. He believed the worship service had declined to that of a theatrical event and felt that the best way to involve the congregation was through hymnody. For this, Luther was called the Father of Congregational Song. He was a fine lutenist and did all of his composing on the lute.The early hymns were incredible, documenting former students of his who were burned at the stake for heresy. Great historical information that most do not know.
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David Norton
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Re: The Lute in Hymnody of Martin Luther

Post by David Norton » Sat Mar 25, 2017 11:43 pm

Interesting! I wish I was a few hundred miles closer and could attend one of your performances.
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CathyCate
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Re: The Lute in Hymnody of Martin Luther

Post by CathyCate » Sun Mar 26, 2017 10:42 am

Thanks for posting this information.
How far would you be willing to travel to present a lecture demonstration?
If Michigan is not out of the question, please send me a PM.

Guitardunord
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Re: The Lute in Hymnody of Martin Luther

Post by Guitardunord » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:22 am

Thank you!

Guitardunord
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Re: The Lute in Hymnody of Martin Luther

Post by Guitardunord » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:25 am

David_Norton wrote:Interesting! I wish I was a few hundred miles closer and could attend one of your performances.
Thank you! I wish you did too!

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Christopher Freitag
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Re: The Lute in Hymnody of Martin Luther

Post by Christopher Freitag » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:03 pm

Guitardunord wrote:I am primarily a classical and flamenco guitarist, but I also play Renaissance lute. I do a program on The Music of Martin Luther. He was a talented musician; singer, lutenist, and composer. He believed the worship service had declined to that of a theatrical event and felt that the best way to involve the congregation was through hymnody. For this, Luther was called the Father of Congregational Song. He was a fine lutenist and did all of his composing on the lute.The early hymns were incredible, documenting former students of his who were burned at the stake for heresy. Great historical information that most do not know.
I didn't know about Luther's connection to the lute. Can you point me to some of your sources on this? I'd like to learn more.
Chris Freitag
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Guitardunord
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Re: The Lute in Hymnody of Martin Luther

Post by Guitardunord » Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:43 am

Christopher Freitag wrote:
Guitardunord wrote:I am primarily a classical and flamenco guitarist, but I also play Renaissance lute. I do a program on The Music of Martin Luther. He was a talented musician; singer, lutenist, and composer. He believed the worship service had declined to that of a theatrical event and felt that the best way to involve the congregation was through hymnody. For this, Luther was called the Father of Congregational Song. He was a fine lutenist and did all of his composing on the lute.The early hymns were incredible, documenting former students of his who were burned at the stake for heresy. Great historical information that most do not know.
I didn't know about Luther's connection to the lute. Can you point me to some of your sources on this? I'd like to learn more.
Any biography of Luther briefly discusses his lute and music education. He began studying it when he entered his studies in 1501. He also learned to write tablature, (rarely done in those days, except for advanced musical scholars). Google search and you'll find a great deal, although most simply refer to him learning and playing the lute. It was the guitar of the day. Being a poor priest, he didn't have a virginal or harpsichord at home, so he did his composing on the lute. He also transcribed masses and existing hymns so he could play them at home. He also wrote a few choral works. It's too bad, but there has been very little done to pull it all together. There is much, original manuscripts, scores, essays, etc., in the archives in Wittenberg. It's something I would love to do, but I am not fluent in German!

This is an excerpt from the notes on a CD, Luther's Lute, by Fritz Vitzthum and Julian Behr. Nice recording, (Amazon has it).

As a child, Martin Luther already received intensive musical training at the schools in Magdeburg and Eisenach. He sang not only in the school choirs during the church services, but also for wealthy citizens. During his studies in Erfurt, Luther studied the music theory of both the Middle Ages and antiquity and engaged in musical practice.
Luther had an intimate relationship with the music of his time: he was an admirer of the works of Senfl, Finck and Josquin and wrote a number of melodies of his own. Luther’s pastoral and almost intimate text “Frau Musica singt” (Ms. Musica Sings) to the nigthingale, makes one thing clear: music also provided Luther with solace and a place of refuge. At his own request, Martin Luther learnt to play the lute whilst suffering from an illness in 1503. He not only studied the lute, but also the technique of intabulation, which is the arrangement of a polyphonic vocal piece for the plucked instrument.
The present selection of pieces by Luther and composers from his immediate environment, performed here by the countertenor Franz Vitzthum accompanied by the lute, could have been performed at an evening of domestic music-making at Martin Luther's house, although this cannot be proven by contemporary sources.

Hope this helps a bit!

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Re: The Lute in Hymnody of Martin Luther

Post by pogmoor » Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:45 am

Guitardunord wrote:...He began studying it when he entered his studies in 1501. He also learned to write tablature, (rarely done in those days, except for advanced musical scholars)...
The statement in parentheses is interesting - can you expand on it? European lutenists in the 16th and 17th century (those we remember anyway) would be used to writing their own music in (French or Italian) lute tablature and a fair bit of the music played would be intabulations of polyphonic choral music. However Luther's lifetime (1483 - 1546) corresponds with the use in Germany of their own version of lute tablature (invented at the end of the 15th century and dropped out of use by the end of the 16th century). As I'm sure you know German lute tablature was an unwieldy system, much more difficult to use than French or Italian tablature. Did Luther use German tablature, or did his radical imagination lead him to use the much simpler French system?
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Guitardunord
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Re: The Lute in Hymnody of Martin Luther

Post by Guitardunord » Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:47 am

Yes, he first learned German tab, (horrible stuff). That would have been all that was taught in the German Universities at the time. Later in life, he must have learned French. He was in correspondence with all of the major composers of the time, Josquin des Prez, Ludwig Senfil, and others. He sent choral compositions to them and they often returned them corrected!

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