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Hans Leo Hassler
1564 - 1612
H.L. Hassler
Hans Leo Hassler (26/10/1564 - 08/06/1612), a German composer, organist and consultant for organ builder and born in Nuremberg who got his first lessons from his father Issak Hassler. Hassler was the first German composer from many in receiving and continuing studies in Italy. He arrived in Venice and learned the splendid polychoral style which was popular in that time. Together with Giovanni Gabrieli (1556-1612) Hassler studied organ and composition under Andrea Gabrieli (1520- 1586) in Venice in 1584-85. Following the death of Andrea Gabrieli, Hassler returned to Germany. He worked in Augburg and Nuremberg where he was the appointed Kaiserlichen Hofdiener in the court of Rudolf II. Further Hassler worked in Ulm and Dresden. Hassler’s motets exhibit this blend of the old and the new style in the way they reflect both the influence of the Netherlander Orlando di Lassus (1532-1594) and in the sacred music the two four-part chorus style of Andrea ne Giovanni Gabrieli. Hassler is considered to be one of the most important German composers of all time. He merged the fully developed and refined Renaissance style of polyphony the prima pratica with in Italy learned and developed new trends which were to define what was later called the Baroque era.
Author:Wim Goossens
Si bona suscepimus
Period:Late Renaissance
Composed in:1611
Musical form:Motet a 8 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin from a Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum
Label(s):HMC 901401
This Si bona suscepimus is an old Responsorium set in plainchant. There are about 138 Responsoria de Officium Defunctorum, Responds from Office of the Dead known and used during centuries in the Office of the Dead. They are all well ordered, this is number 87. One of the two corresponding Versicle from the Office of the Dead “ Nudus egressus” number 156 is even used by Jacobus Clement (1515-1556), Gombert (c.1495-c.1557), Phillip Verdelot ( 1480/85 – 1530/32), Lassus (1532-1594), Lechner (1553-1606) and Thomas Selle (1599-1663) did. But on the other hand Hans Leo Hassler and Claudin de Sermisy (1490-1562) used only the Respond version without the Versicle-part so did Constanzo Porta (1529-1601) as we will see. It is known the use of Responds and Versicles of The Office of the Dead vary per region all over Europe.
This particularly Respond ‘Si bona suscepimus’ is used and found in the series of Deventer Holland and preserved in the University of Amsterdam. Next to it the more general type (Respond-Type 25) to which this Respond ‘Si bona suscepimus’ belongs is spread in the area under the Ottonian and Salian emperors the counties of Lower Lorraine, of Flanders, Champgane and the northern part of Holland. The principal source is found before 1318 in Aachen, executed in Aix-la-Chapelle as we see in Knud Ottosen excellent book. In general the text is coming out of the Book Job. The choice of texts and the order in which they occur in the sources all around Europe vary according to local uses. This text setting is found in Deventer in a source out of 1516 and this Respond is sung at the end of the third nocturne. This long setting of this Respond - consisting out of 92 bars - is written by Hassler for 2 Choirs ATTT and TTBB. Hassler starts with Choir II and so on in alternation. Hassler wrote this Respond in a splendid emotional polychoral more lively Venetian style he was familiar with. From bar 34 we see the first highlight in this composition underlining the famous text ‘Dominus dedit, dominus abstulit’. The mentioned phrases will be repeated twice in a homophonic but imposing style with the two choirs together. This imposing homophonic phrase (bars 34-43) will be immediate followed by an interesting fluent 3/2 measure ‘Sicut Dominus placuit’ set in the two separate choirs answering each other. Perhaps this part is set in a sense to please the Dominus. The answer ‘ita factum est’ is set in Ȼ measure, immediately followed again with a 3/2 measure (bars 43-55). This very interesting total phrase will be fully repeated by the two choirs in an identical musical texture (bars 67-78). Between these two phrases Hassler starts with the musical elaboration of the ‘Sit nomen Domini benedictum’ which in the last part ends in a full E-major. In this long motet we see the merger of the marvellous ‘old’ Renaissance music fashion by for instance Lassus with new music especially the four part chorus style out of Venice. Even in the Requiem music a splendid combination.
In the Promptuarii musici, sacras harmonias sive motetas V. VI. VII. & VIII vocum, e diversis...autoribus, antehac nunquam in Germania editis... . Collectore Abrahamo Schadaeo...Cui basin vulgo generalem dictam & ad organa, musicaque instrumenta accomodatam, singulari industria addidit Caspar Vincentus... (Argentinæ : Typis Caroli Kiefferi, Sumptibus Pauli Ledertz, 1611, 1612, 1613) we found more polychoral Requiem settings from different composers and that’s for us the first time to meet this great polychoral style in the Respond-settings. The editor of these volumes the Sorb Abraham Skoda (Schadäus 1556-1626) was a Lusatian composer and editor in the Bautzen deaconate. (Lusatia is today's Poland, parts of Czech Republic and parts of Slovakia.) Schadäus and Vincentius organized these volumes according to the liturgical year, but not exclusively for either Catholic or Lutheran contexts. In those anthologies we will see another Respond-pieces by often unknown composers but practising the ‘coro spezatti’ style. It is remarkable that in this edition polychoral Respond settings are available. Perhaps in this region they must have had good wind players and other musicians? This Respond ‘Si bona suscepimus’ setting is published in the already mentioned Promptuarii musici, sacras harmonias sive motetas V. VI. VII. & VIII vocum, in 1611.
Author:Wim Goossens
Text Si bona suscepimus:
R. Si bona suscepimus de manu domine, mala autem quare non sustineamus?
Dominus dedit dominus abstulit sicut domino placuit ita factum est. Sit nomen domini benedictum.

R. If we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not endure evil?
The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away: as it has pleased the Lord, so is it done. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Contributor:Wim Goossens