Von edler Art / Corina Marti · Michal Gondko
Deutsche Musik des 15. Jahrhunderts für Tasten- und Zupfinstrumente



Ramée 0802

1. GUILLAUME DU FAY. [Ce jour le doibt] · arr. M. Gondko · gittern, claviciterium  [4:35]
2. Wilhelmus legrant, after Guillaume LEGRANT [Lemacherier] · gittern, claviciterium  [1:40]
3. Des klaffers neyden · gittern  [1:39]
4. Benedicite almechtiger got · claviciterium  [3:03]
5. ?TYLING. [Tandernaken] · gittern, claviciterium  [3:19]

6. Praeambulum super sol  [0:44]
7. Qui vult messite, after Gilles de BINS dit BINCHOIS. Qui veut mesdire  [3:32]
8. Praeambulum super c  [2:12]
9. Pulcherrima de virgine · arr. M. Gondko  [2:31]
10. ?BOUMGARTNER. Boumgartner  [2:02]

11. Preambulum super d  [2:15]
12. Rorate celi desuper et nubes pluant  [3:30]
13. Redeuntes in la  [1:02]
14. Modocomo bystu die rechte / Repetic[i]o, upon an. Ma doulce amour  [6:13]
15. Redeuntes in idem   [1:10]
16. Mi ut re ut e c d c, upon an. Venise  [3:09]
17. Redeuntes in idem mi de eadem mensura  [1:51]

18. JOHANN SCHLEND. Ich stond an einem morgen · claviciterium, lute  [1:15]
19. ARNOLT SCHLICK.All ding mit radt · lute  [2:41]
20. HANS BUCHNER. Enzindt pin ich · claviciterium, lute  [1:41]
21. HANS KOTTER. Praeludium in la · claviciterium  [2:40]
22. PAUL HOFHAIMER. Tandernack uf dem rin lag · claviciterium, lute  [3:25]

23. ?ADOLF BLINDHAMER. Preambulum (abridged)  [6:49]
24. SYLVANUS OR WENCK. Mein Gmüt und Blüt  [1:21]
25. ADOLF BLINDHAMER. Meyn sin und gemüt  [1:34]
26. ADOLF BLINDHAMER. AB mit 3 stimen  [1:28]

CORINA MARTI, claviciterium
Emile Jobin, after anonymous, ?Ulm, late 15th century, now in the Donaldson Collection, Royal College of Music, London

6-course lute in A
Szymon Gasienica / Marcus Wesche, after iconographical sources
4-course gittern in C
George Stevens, after Hans Ott, Nuremberg, ca. 1450, now in the Wartburg Castle, Eisenach

All instruments strung with gut strings by Aquila and Sofracob.



Guillaume Du Fay / * Beersel, ?5 Aug 1397; † Cambrai, 27 Nov 1474
Gilles de Bins dit Binchois / * ?Mons, c 1400; † Soignies, 20 Sept 1460
Guillaume Legrant [Lemacherier]/ flourished 1405-49
Tyling (?composer's name) /unknown
Boumgartner (? composer's name) /unknown
Conrad Paumann / * Nuremberg, c1410; † Munich, 24 Jan 1473
Paul Hofhaimer / * Radstadt, 25 Jan 1459; † Salzburg, 1537
Arnolt Schlick / * ?Heidelberg, c1460; † ?Heidelberg, after 1521
Adolf Blindhamer / * c1475; † between 1520 and 1532
Hans Buchner / * Ravensburg, 26 Oct 1483; † ?Konstanz, 1538
Hans Kotter / * Strasbourg, c1485; † Berne, 1541
Johann Schlend / ?Alsace; dates of birth and death unkown
Andreas Sylvanus (Walder) / flourished in Heidelberg, 1511
Johann Wenck/unknown


Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Ms Mus. 5094 [track 1]
Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Mus. 40613 (» Lochamer Liederbuch«) [tracks 2-4]
Trento, Castello del Buonconsiglio, Monumenti e Collezioni Provinciali 1374 [olim 87] [track 5]
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Mus. 3725 (» Buxheimer Orgelbuch«) [tracks 6-17]
Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, F X 1-4 [tracks 18 and 20]
Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, F IX 22 [tracks 21-22]
Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Ms Mus. 41950 [tracks 23, 25 and 26]


Arnolt Schlick, Tabulaturen Etlicher lobgesang und lidlein uff die orgeln und lauten (Mainz: Peter Schöffer, 1512) [track 19]

Georg Forster, Ein außzug guter alter un[d] newer Teutscher liedlein (Nuremberg: Johan Petreius, 1539) [track 24]


Anthony Baines, »Fifteenth-Century Instruments in Tinctoris's De Inventione et Usu Musicae«, The Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 3. (1950), pp. 19-26

Standley Howell, »Paulus Paulirinus of Prague on Musical Instruments«, Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, vol. 5/6 (1979/80), pp. 9-36

Martin Kirnbauer & Crawford Young, Frühe Lautentabulaturen im Faksimile / Early Lute Tablatures in Fascimile (Winterthur: Amadeus Verlag, 2003, Pratica Musicale 6)

Keith Polk, German Instrumental Music of the Late Middle Ages: Players, Patrons and Performance Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)

Keith Polk, »Innovation in Instrumental Music 1450 - 1510: The Role of German Performers within European Culture«, in: John Kmetz (ed.), Music in the German Renaissance: Sources, Styles, and Contexts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 202-14

Reinhard Strohm, The Rise of European Music 1380-1500 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993)

Stanley Sadie & John Tyrell (eds.): The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition (London: Macmillan Publishers, 2001)

Sebastian Virdung, Musica getutscht 1511, facsimile edition, ed. Klaus Wolfgang Niemöller, Documenta Musicologica, Erste Reihe: Druckschriften-Faksimiles, XXXI (Kassel-Basel-London: Bärenreiter, 1970)

Recorded in July 2007 at the church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption, Basse-Bodeux, Belgium
Recording, artistic direction & production: Rainer Arndt
Editing: Catherine Meeùs, Rainer Arndt
Graphic concept: Laurence Drevard
Design & layout: Laurence Drevard (cover), Catherine Meeùs (booklet)
Cover: Kasseler Lautenkragen, Germany, late 15th century
(© Universitätsbibliothek Kassel, part of the manuscript 2°Ms. math. et art. 31)
Photos: © Laurence Drevard (cover), © Michal Gondko (booklet)
With special thanks to Ann and Paul Bridge, Michael Craddock and Martin Kirnbauer.
RAM 0802

(English translation)



One of the defining features of the secular musical culture of fifteenth-century Europe is the division of musical instruments (and thus music performed with them) into «loud» and «soft»; «loud» music (provided by a wind band consisting of reeds and brass) was associated with large in and outdoor courtly and civic events of all sorts, and «soft» (any instrument that produced considerably less volume) with a more intimate setting. Both kinds of music were performed by professional musicians. While an excellent instrumentalist could obviously come from anywhere, music historians point out that courts, cities, churches and private chambers in many parts of late medieval and early modern Europe very often echoed to fine music provided by German players of wind and stringed instruments. It has even been said that German instrumentalists «excercised analogous primacy in their sphere of activity» to «the primacy of Franco-Flemish composers in vocal music and composition» (Keith Polk). Sadly, considering the vigour of this instrumental tradition in German-speaking lands, the art of these instrumentalists has left relatively little trace in written musical accounts. It is widely presumed that most players would have learned their craft and passed it on by ear (the music either improvised or conceived and stored in their memory rather than written down), so that the music lasted only as long as those who created and performed it. However, the question remains, did it disappear entirely?

Most of the surviving fifteenth-century instrumental music that can be directly linked to the activity of German instrumentalists comes from the realm of keyboard playing. This fact has implications beyond the history of keyboard playing alone. In German keyboard manuscripts pre-dating the early sixteenth century, the top part of a polyphonic composition is notated mensurally on a staff, whereas the remaining parts are notated underneath with letters of the alphabet (to denote pitch) and rhythmical signs – a system termed nowadays «older German organ tablature». Intended for keyboard instruments in the first place, this way of notating polyphonic music is nevertheless a versatile one, for the resulting intabulation does not exclude a performance in solo or duet arrangements by any suitable «melodic» or «polyphonic» instrument. Furthermore, lutenists (and possibly harpists) could read keyboard notation (see Martin Kirnbauer's essay in the present booklet).

The notion of polyphonic solo lute playing – the instrument's chief role in the sixteenth century – was developed during the fifteenth century, undoubtedly with a significant contribution from German players. Conrad Paumann, a virtuoso organist and player of «soft» instruments, in his day one of the most remarkable musical personalities in German-speaking lands, was renowned for his polyphonic solo lute playing, apparently using the bare fingers of the right hand. Johannes Tinctoris, music theorist and keen observer of the contemporary musical world, considered this style of lute playing superior in difficulty to traditional melodic playing (using a plectrum) and Paumann «supereminent in playing this way». There were others who practiced this multo difficilius style of playing: Tinctoris also singles out Charles the Bold's lutenist Henri Bouclers, whose origin has not yet been traced (though it has been suggested that his name may be a garbled version of «Heinrich Böcklin») and one suspects polyphonic performance whenever a single lutenist appears in fifteenth-century courtly or civic payment records, particularly in German-speaking areas.

A look through the Buxheimer Orgelbuch – the most extensive of the surviving fifteenth-century manuscripts in German keyboard notation – reveals types of repertoire likely to have been performed by Paumann and his students around the middle of the century. It contains both sacred and secular works, including pieces with a primarily liturgical function (extemporisations of chant melodies), arrangements of secular songs, basse danse tenors and free instrumental forms. The existence of so-called fundamenta – collections of pre-conceived solutions for extemporisation on the fundamental melody – opens yet another door. Not surprisingly, the most extensive of such collections – Fundamentum organisandi, surviving in the Buxheimer Orgelbuch and elsewhere – is attributed to Conrad Paumann. For his students, a Fundamentum organisandi would have been a valuable learning aid, a window into their master's workshop, and its content subject to emulation and copying. Taken together, didactic material and the music itself (with multiple types of arrangement existing for many pieces) constitute the vocabulary and grammar of the musical language used by fine musicians like Paumann. Once learnt, this language can be used by present-day players for extending the repertoire by creating new arrangements of any polyphonic piece likely to have been chosen by a fifteenth-century musician (i.e. a song by Binchois). Thus, surviving fifteenth-century German manuscripts of keyboard music preserve for us not only valuable musical material from the early days of German keyboard playing tradition. They also transmit what might be the lost repertoire of fifteenth-century German players of «soft» instruments, albeit only a fraction of it. Study of their content helps to partly mitigate the loss – an invaluable resource for present-day musicians with instruments for which the earliest repertoire otherwise dates from the sixteenth century.

The late Middle Ages saw crucial developments in instrument-making and many of them took place in German-speaking lands. In order to meet the requirements of changing tastes in music and aesthetics, new instruments were invented, and existing ones modified and improved. Some of the most dramatic developments occurred in the field of stringed instruments. Experiments with various mechanics led to the invention of new stringed keyboard instruments that flourished in various forms and types (including the harpsichord, allegedly an invention of the Austrian physician Hermann Poll shortly before 1400) . Among them was the claviciterium, an upright stringed keyboard instrument with a vertical soundboard. Sebastian Virdung gives only a vague description of the claviciterium in his 1511 treatise Musica getutscht: «This one is similar to the virginal, only that it has strings made of sheep's gut, and [bray?] pins that make it sound like a harp; it also has feather quills like the virginal. It was invented recently and I have only seen one». While the claviciterium was not really a novelty (the earliest evidence of its existence dates from around 1460), it seems to have been a rarity. This is possibly why a beautiful late fifteenth-century specimen of South German origin survived. To date, it remains the earliest stringed keyboard instrument in existence. Around 1460, the theorist Paulus Paulirinus wrote that the claviciterium was strung with metal strings whereas Virdung mentions gut. The instrument heard in the present recording is strung with gut strings, as we have a preference for the kind of sound they produce, and – last but not least – because it blends wonderfully with the sound of the entirely gut-strung lute and gittern.

The lute gradually lost its «gothic» appearance (characterised by flowing contours and a roundish body) in favour of new designs developed by South German makers in the late fifteenth century. Thanks to the testimony of Tinctoris, we know that Germans experimented with the stringing of the lute, adding the sixth course, trying out materials other than gut and enhancing the sonority of the bass register – adaptations likely to have been triggered by developments in playing technique and the music itself. Writing around 1500, Virdung mentions three types of lute as being in use in his time: 5-course (9 strings), 6-course (11 strings) and 7-course (13 or 14 strings). A 5-course instrument was in use in Europe at least from the early fifteenth century onwards and, in all likelihood, this was the type of lute that Paumann began on and played for most of his career. Virdung considers 5- course lutes inadequate («I consider nine strings too few to learn [the lute]») and 7-course lutes too rare («not all lutes have thirteen or fourteen [strings]»), so he advises his reader to use a 6-course instrument (since «one finds them practically everywhere»). A small 6-course lute, tuned A – d – g – b – e' – a' was also adopted for this recording. A variant of this tuning with the bottom course tuned a whole tone down was often used by lutenists in Germany (here called Abzug) as well as elsewhere in Europe. Virdung also mentiones a gittern (Quintern) . A smaller relative of the lute, with body and neck made from a single piece of wood, the gittern came to Europe from Arab lands at some point in the thirteenth century, possibly around the same time as the lute. The instrument heard on this recording is based on a surviving specimen made by Hans Ott in Nuremberg around 1450. Its four courses are tuned a – d' – g' – c".

Divided into sets of pieces, our chronologically ordered program strives both to capture a glimpse of this essential moment of development in the history of keyboard and plucked string playing, and equally to present a practical implementation of ideas gained from the analysis of sources. The initial set consists of both duets and solo pieces, beginning with an intabulation of Guillaume Du Fay's May song Ce jour le doibt from an earlier fifteenth-century Austrian manuscript. Significantly, instead of tablature, the scribe used mensural signs to notate this piece in the usual keyboard score layout. The florid Wilhelmus legrant – an intabulation of an otherwise unknown piece by the early fifteenth-century French composer Guillaume Legrant (Lemacherier) – demonstrates the musical plausibility of a duet performance of music written in keyboard notation. Conversely, we have intabulated a mensurally written setting of the Tandernaken melody from a manuscript written by Johannes Lupi (see Martin Kirnbauer's essay). Inserted between the duets and performed by each instrument solo are two musically related intabulations of German Lieder, notated – like Wilhelmus legrant – in the keyboard part of the Lochamer Liederbuch, another manuscript containing Paumann's Fundamentum (here dated 1452).

The next two sets consist exclusively of music from the Buxheimer Orgelbuch performed solo on lute and claviciterium respectively. Here, the listener will find songs (Binchois' Qui veut mesdire and a composition signed Boumgartner), settings of basse danse tenors (Venise and Ma doulce amour) and pieces with Latin titles (Pulcherrima de virgine and Rorate celi desuper et nubes pluant). A simple, two-part composition notated towards the end of the manuscript, Pulcherrima de virgine, served as a point of departure for a more elaborate reworking that involves ornamenting the top part and a partial thickening of the polyphonic texture to three-part. As frames and dividers, we have used pieces in free forms dispersed throughout the Buxheimer Orgelbuch: preambula and redeuntes serve as preludes, interludes and postludes (the latter in the spirit of Nachlauf – the virtuoso ending of a piece). In fact, the little Nachlauf immediately following Boumgartner and concluding the solo lute set has been spontaneously improvised and retained in the recording.

With the fourth set, again a mixture of duets and solo pieces, we move in time towards the early sixteenth century. It is from this period that we possess further keyboard sources as well as the earliest surviving German sources of lute music already written in a lute-specific notation, the «German lute tablature» (invented – if we are to believe the testimony of Sebastian Virdung – by Paumann, it uses numbers for open strings and letters of the alphabet for places on the fingerboard instead of pitches). This set is dominated by music of keyboard players of the post-Paumann generation, with Paul Hofhaimer, obrister Organist (chief organist) to Emperor Maximilian I, as its foremost exponent. The set opens with Ich stond an einem morgen by Johann Schlend, of whom nothing is known except that he was organist in the town of Zabern (now Saverne in Alsace). The piece survives in part-books compiled in the second decade of the sixteenth century for Bonifacius Amerbach, a Basel lawyer and amateur musician on keyboard, plucked stringed and wind instruments. It is followed by a prelude-like lute piece All ding mit radt from Arnolt Schlick's printed anthology Tabulaturen Etlicher lobgesang, and by two compositions by Hofhaimer's students, Hans Buchner and Hans Kotter. Like Schlend's piece, Buchner's Enzindt pin ich is a standard, mensurally notated four-part setting of a pre-existing melody. We have arranged both pieces as duets, assigning the superius and tenor parts to the claviciterium, while altus and bassus parts are given to the lute (in the 1530s, similar arrangement was recommended for the lute duet by lutenist and music publisher Hans Gerle) . The two concluding pieces come from a keyboard manuscript written by Kotter around 1515 for the young Bonifacius Amerbach: Kotter's Praeludium in la serves as an introduction to Hofhaimer's elaborate setting of the Tandernaken melody (our choice for the additional part is a lute played with a plectrum).

This recording would seem seriously incomplete without at least some of the solo lute music ascribed to Adolf Blindhamer. He was lutenist to Emperor Maximilian I and lute teacher in Nuremberg; Albrecht Dürer considered him as one of the three best lutenists of his time – alongside Felix Hungersperger and a certain «Samario» (who may well have been Gian Maria Alemani (Giudeo), a German-Jewish lutenist to Pope Leo X) . We are indebted to Hans Gerle, possibly Blindhamer's student in Nuremberg, for an illuminating account of Blindhamer's solo performance: «In order to expand his art and ability, the aforementioned Adolf proceeded in this fashion which all artists of music and of these instruments should adopt. When he played in front of those versed in music or famous singers he nevertheless let himself be heard beforehand in his preludes in such a way that his precision and art appeared great. Also, when he performed a set piece, he played it at first as it stood in the score, ornamented only with few coloraturas, secondly with well formed runs, and thirdly he played and executed it with proportions, but in such a way as not to take away from the sweetness and perfection of the piece».

Accordingly the last set consists of several pieces signed «AB» and «Adollf Blindhomer» in a South-German manuscript from the second decade of the sixteenth century. Inspired by Gerle's evocative testimony, the set opens with a Preambulum, not attributed, but sharing much of the musical materia with Blindhamer's untitled piece found later in the manuscript. The hastily scribbled and extremely long Preambulum is largely based on extended repetitive modules calling to mind Paumann's clausulae (examples of extemporising a movement of melody) but organised rhythmically in a variety of ways and peppered with short comments (i.e. behend, «nimble», or lenge, «stretch»). Most interestingly, only after the beginning, the piece requires the lutenist to tune the bottom course of the lute a whole tone down – this kind of «in-composed» Abzug is quite unique in the sources of lute music and has been retained in the recording. The overall feeling of improvisatory freedom that this piece evokes is strong. This sort of piece (when already notated) is, by definition, no opus perfectum et absolutum. Therefore, for the purpose of this recording, the middle section of the Preambulum has been removed in the interest of greater formal cohesion, yet the piece loses nothing of its rhapsodic character. After the final run (Nachlauf), the Preambulum leads on to the song Mein Gmüt und Blüt by either Andreas Sylvanus or Johann Wenck. The song is first performed as it stands (only lightly adorned in cadences), and then repeated in the florid arrangement by Blindhamer which the scribe entitled Meyn sin und gemüt. The set is concluded by Blindhamer's aforementioned untitled piece which is essentially a compressed version of the initial long Preambulum. Blindhamer's music is technically and musically demanding. As we know it today – transmitted by an anonymous scribe, possibly an advanced student – it constitutes yet another valuable insight into what must have been a world of highly personal instrumental performance practices. Like his contemporary fellow organists, Blindhamer lived well into the sixteenth century, but had received his education – undoubtedly based on older models – in the preceding one.

Interrelated traditions of keyboard and lute playing that flourished in German-speaking lands in the age immediately predating the invention of music printing have fascinated us ever since our very first encounter with the surviving repertoire that originated from these traditions. Fifteenth-century music for keyboard and plucked stringed instruments is without doubt an exciting area in the early history of European instrumental music, but one paradoxically seldom visited by performers and thus virtually unknown to the wider public. Many pieces are recorded here for the first time, and it is our hope that the present disc may contribute to restoring the remnants of a once flourishing and highly refined art to the place they deserve in the awareness of music lovers.

Michal Gondko