Friday Night Organ: Heinrich Isaac.  

 

The Evil Genius
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09/08/2019 9:32 pm  

Heinrich Isaac (1450-1517). A contemporary of Josquin des Prez, Isaac influenced the development of music in Germany. Little is known about Isaac's early life but it is probable that he was born in Brabant, Flanders. During the late 15th century, standards of music education in the region were excellent, and he was probably educated in his homeland, although the location is not known. Sixteenth-century Swiss music theorist and writer Heinrich Glarean claimed Isaac for Germany by dubbing him "Henricus Isaac Germanus". The influence of Isaac was especially pronounced in Germany, due to the connection he maintained with the Habsburg court. He was the first significant master of the Franco-Flemish polyphonic style who both lived in German-speaking areas, and whose music was widely distributed there. It was through him that the polyphonic style of the Netherlands became widely accepted in Germany, making possible the further development of contrapuntal music there.

Heinrich Isaac's career spanned well over thirty years and allowed him to travel far from his homeland of Flanders into Germany, Italy, and Austria, as well as other parts of central Europe. While the absence of plentiful primary sources makes it hard for us to map out Isaac's life, piecing together the sources we do have along with the works he wrote gives us a good picture of just how popular this Franco-Flemish composer was in his time. Isaac was probably writing music by the 1470s, and the first document mentioning his name dates back to 15 September 1484, placing him as a singer for Duke Sigismund of Austria, part of the House of Habsburg. The following year Isaac had become employed as a singer at the church Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. By the middle of 1491, he was designated as a singer at Santissima Annunziata, a position that he held until 1493.

While in Florence Isaac developed a close working-relationship with Lorenzo de' Medici. During his presence in Florence from 1484 until the end of 1496, Isaac probably composed several masses, motets and secular songs, including missa “J'ay pris amours” and the carnival song "Hora è di Maggio". In 1487 Isaac composed the piece “A la battaglia” to commemorate the battle between Genoa and Florence for the castle Sarzanello although there is much debate over the exact date and purpose of the piece. Isaac's relationship with Lorenzo de' Medici must have been fairly close, because allegedly between 1488 and 1489 he composed the music for a play called “San Giovanni e San Paolo”, written by Medici himself. Moreover, when Lorenzo died in April 1492 Isaac composed two motets in his memory. Lorenzo's son Piero inherited everything he owned, including his musical groups. In September 1492 Piero took his musical groups to Rome to perform for the coronation of Pope Alexander VI. Records show that Isaac was one of the three singers for whom clothing was purchased for the trip, implying that he probably performed for the Pope.

During his first stay in Florence Isaac also had dealings with a Florentine named Piero Bello, whose daughter Bartolomea was Isaac’s wife. Although the actual date of the marriage is unknown, records imply that it may have been arranged for Isaac by Lorenzo de' Medici. There is record of Piero Bello giving Isaac a dowry for his daughter in January 1495. In November 1496 after Isaac and his wife spent some time in Pisa, they moved to Vienna under the employ of Emperor Maximilian I. He remained under Maximilian's employment from 1496 until his death, although he did not remain stationary during that period. In fact, Isaac traveled extensively around Europe north of Italy. Payment documents from Maximilian's court imply Isaac traveled with the court to Torgau, Augsburg, Nürnberg, Wels, and back to Innsbruck between 1497 and 1501.

In 1502, Isaac returned to Italy, going to Florence to make arrangements with the hospital Santa Maria Nuova; payments were made to the hospital in return for health and food provisions. Recently discovered documents offer evidence that Isaac began making yearly payments to the confraternity of Santa Barbara for mutual assistance. On 15 August 1502, Isaac wrote his first will which included names of his proprietors, alluding to the fact that he was doing well to care for his wife and property should anything happen to him. He then traveled to Ferrara to the court of the Este where he wrote the motet "La mi la sol la sol la mi" in merely two days and competed with Josquin for employment: a famous letter from the agent of the Este family compared the two composers, saying that "[Isaac] is of a better disposition among his companions, and he will compose new works more often. It is true that Josquin composes better, but he composes when he wants to and not when one wants him to."

In 1512 Isaac bartered his house in Florence for a smaller one, signifying his settling down. He and his wife probably remained there except for a few short trips until his death. Isaac also made a point to revise his will in which he requested that a mass be said every year forever at Santissima Annunziata or another church should Annunziata be unable. Bartolomea would be able to pay for these masses with provisions. He was given an honorary position as chief of the polyphic chapel at Santa Maria del Fiore on 30 May 1514, which served as a pension. Isaac also continued to receive payments from the court of Maximilian I regardless of his living in Florence. Shortly before his death, Isaac wrote a third and final will, which shortened his previous request to instead have a commemorative mass said every year for ten years. Isaac died on 26 March 1517. Santissima Annunziata received payment the following day to hold his funeral. A last posthumous donation was made to the confraternity of Santa Barbara in the amount of five florins, which was equal to one quarter the value of Isaac's home.

Here is "La mi la sol la sol la mi" mentioned above:

And here is “A la battaglia” as mentioned above: (The detail of the painting in the video is fascinating if you look at it carefully.)

This is “O Decus Ecclesiae”;

Here is “Et qui la dira”. I'm including this because there is a crumhorn used and you don't hear this very often.

As mentioned above here is “Angeli, archangeli”:

Finally here is the Magnifico of the “Lamento per la morte di Lorenzo” mentioned above.

 


The Evil Genius
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09/08/2019 9:59 pm  

Yes the paintings in the first video are all Albrecht Durer, so they are contemporaneous to the music. 


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Matcha Savage
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14/08/2019 4:27 am  

Excellent providence: a boy born in Flanders is named „Florence“ to become a famous musician who spends a good deal of his life in the city of Florence in Italy, where he meets and marries his wife, buys a house, subsequently dies and gets buried.

The assessment of his character by the agent of the Este family and the way he and his competitor do differ from one to another has me smiling.

This site has been a scam from the start. I am outta here.


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Matcha Savage
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14/08/2019 2:16 pm  

What the actual nonsense have I written this morning ^^ 😆 🤣 😉 

I have had a good sleep prior, but it seems that today I was a little moony falling out of bed and onto the street in one go. As always, reading the bio of Heinrich Isaac was a real pleasure to me and has made me confident to engage the daily workload in a relaxed and thoughtful fashion.

That has actually been right before I renamed Heinrich and made him a ‘Florence’! 😀

This early morning I had no troubles at all with giving the man another name, instead I was laughing inside while imagining the troubles you have when your name is the same name of the city you live and work in.

What a stroke of luck, that I got used to reading the bios of the Friday Night Organ more often than once! You can probably imagine my expression upon finding out that there is no real Florence Isaac to be found in this thread -except for the one I made up.

This site has been a scam from the start. I am outta here.


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Travis3000
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14/08/2019 3:53 pm  

I've needed a soundtrack for using my penis pump for a long time now.  I called up this fat hooker from the trailers park in the next city over.  I tore her up.  Thanks penis pump!


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Old Buck
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16/08/2019 10:51 pm  
Posted by: @pistolpete

Here is “Et qui la dira”. I'm including this because there is a crumhorn used and you don't hear this very often.

 

That crumhorn is quite unique.  I can see why it is hard fitting that instrument into the ensemble.

“O Decus Ecclesiae” was enlightening, visions of a mystical land came to mind.

I like hearing the different musicians and choirs, each having their own talents.  Mine, when I played, was making everyone else sound better.

Good finish at the end.  "Lamento per la morte di Lorenzo" was performed well.

Do NOT chase tail. Turn yours around and live FREE!


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The Evil Genius
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19/08/2019 9:38 pm  

Thanks Old Buck. I work hard on these and I'm glad guys like it. 🙂 


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