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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 October 2023


Striggio’s forty-part motet Ecce beatam lucem survives in a unique manuscript source, dated 1587, in the Ratsschulbibliothek in Zwickau. Its text, first published in 1595, formed part of a Pindaric ode written by the neo-Latin poet and Calvinist Paul Schede Melissus (1539–1602). A closer consideration of Melissus’ biography indicates that he probably wrote it after 1575, long after the wedding festivities with which the motet has habitually been associated (Florence, 1565; Munich, 1568). Its subject matter – a Calvinist vision of the New Jerusalem – also makes it an unlikely wedding text and inappropriate for Catholic festivities. Rather, it was probably used as the text of a contrafactum, for an as yet unidentified occasion, with which Striggio himself had little or no connection.

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press

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[This essay by David Butchart, the last of his extensive and fundamental contributions to the biography and music of Alessandro Striggio the Elder, was completed shortly before his death, after a long struggle, from cancer of the bile duct on 9 May 2023. The text presented here, with just a few minor editorial interventions, is otherwise printed in the final form which David oversaw.]

I am most grateful to Hugh Keyte and Silvia Resenghetti, Alan Newcombe and Michael Talbot, who read earlier versions of the text and made many useful comments. Jörg Robert of Tübingen University encouraged me to pursue the Calvinistic aspects of Melissus’ poem. Dr. Gregor Hermann, Deputy Librarian of the Ratsschulbibliothek in Zwickau, was most helpful both during and after my stay there in 2020, as was Elisabeth Dlugosch of the University Library, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, Erlangen-Nürnberg (Alte Universitätsbibliothek, Handschriften, Graphische Sammlung). I also wish to thank Clemens Rohfleisch of the Historical Collections at the University Library, Heidelberg, who supplied me with a scan of the 1575 list of odes planned by Melissus. In addition, Dr William Barton of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies, Innsbruck, provided me with a very useful commentary on the phrase ‘ver novum’ in Melissus’ poem.


1 See Diario fiorentino di Agostino Lapini dal 252 al 1596, ed. G. O. Corazzini (Florence, 1900), p. 132; the Mantuan musica was first discussed in I. Fenlon and H. Keyte, ‘Memorialls of Great Skill: A Tale of Five Cities’, Early Music, 8 (1980), pp. 329–34, at p. 333.

2 Ibid. Striggio’s letter accompanying the Musica is included in I. Fenlon, Music and Patronage in Sixteenth-century Mantua, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1980), I, pp. 179–80; see also D. Butchart, ‘The Letters of Alessandro Striggio: An Edition with Translation and Commentary’, Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 23 (1990), pp. 1–78, at pp. 13–15.

3 See D. S. Butchart, ‘A Musical Journey of 1567: Alessandro Striggio in Vienna, Munich, Paris and London’, Music & Letters, 63 (1982), pp. 1–16.

4 See M. Troiano, Dialoghi … Ne’ quali si narrano le cose piu notabili fatte nelle Nozze dello Illustriss. & Eccell. Prencipe GUGLIELMO VI…. ; et dell’Illustriss. & Eccell. Madama RENATA di Loreno (Venice, 1569), fols. 146v (Italian)–147r (Spanish), ‘performed twice’ in both versions; an earlier version of the same passage, M. Troiano, Discorsi delli triomfi, giostre, apparati, é delle cose piu notabile fatte nelle sontuose Nozze, dell’Illustrissimo & Eccellentissimo Signor Duca Guglielmo … nell’Anno 1568, a 22. di Febraro (Munich, 1568), p. 183, says ‘three times’. Cf. Warren Kirkendale, The Court Musicians in Florence during the Principiate of the Medici (Florence, 1993), p. 72 and n. 68.

5 B. Rainer, ‘La quale fu cantata molto bene: The Performances of Alessandro Striggio’s Monumental 40-part Compositions in Munich, 1567/68’, Mirabilia, 33 (2021), pp. 198– 221 (online at, at p. 219, n. 45, correcting R. Lindell, ‘Stefano Rossetti at the Imperial Court’, in Musicologia Humana: Studies in Honor of Warren and Ursula Kirkendale, ed. S. Gmeinwieser, D. Hiley and J. Riederbauer (Florence, 1994), pp. 157–81, at p. 163, and D. Moroney, ‘Alessandro Striggio’s Mass in Forty and Sixty Parts’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, 60 (2007), pp. 1–78, at p. 23, n. 71, who both say Maximilian was sending back the forty-part work to Albrecht, rather than simply sending on a copy of the work he had received from Rome (‘Was mir auch dise tag zuckhumen, ubersende ich E. L. hiemit sambt dem gesang mit den 41 schtimen’). See also B. Rainer, Instrumentalisten und instrumentale Praxis am Hof Albrechts V. von Bayern, 1550–1579 (Vienna, 2021).

6 The correspondence is in V. Bibl, ed., Die Korrespondenz Maximilians II, I: Familienkorrespondenz, 1564 Juli 25–1566 August 11 (Vienna, 1916), pp. 1–2. In the letter of 26 June, Maximilian asks Albrecht to send him a copy of some recent compositions by Lasso.

7 On Madruzzo, see R. Vettori, ‘Note storiche sul patronato musicale di Cristoforo Madruzzo Cardinale di Trento (1512–1578)’, Rivista Italiana di Musicologia, 20 (1985), pp. 3–43; R. Becker, ‘Madruzzo, Cristoforo’, in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (Rome, 1960– ; hereafter DBI), LXVII (2006).

8 For a list of ‘works in many parts’, see Moroney, ‘Alessandro Striggio’s Mass’, p. 5, n. 11, and p. 6, table 1. See also the works listed in the inventory of Antonio Goretti’s collection (n. 12 below).

9 Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Mus. ms. 1536, no. 104. The possibility that it was composed later, either for the Imperial court in Vienna or for Munich, should not be discounted: Rossetto was active in both centres.

10 See Moroney, ‘Alessandro Striggio’s Mass’, p. 37 and n. 100.

11 On Gorettti, see A. Newcomb, ‘Goretti, Antonio’, in New Grove, X, pp. 162– 3, and bibliography there; also S. De Salvo, ‘Goretti, Antonio’, in DBI LVIII (2002). Mersenne’s account is in Novarum observationum physico-mathematicarum … tomus III (Paris, 1647), p. 166. The passage reads: ‘Denique vidi apud eum [Antonio Goretti] Motetum Alexandri Strygij 46. Vocum; Benedicti à Catano Capucini Litanias 66. vocum, cum 10. choris. Petri Mariae, Benedictus, 100. vocum, cum 20. Choris &c. quibus addo 22. magnos fasciculos Musicae S. Ceciliae, quam pro vocibus & instrumentis ipse composuit, & totidem annis Ferrariae concini cum omnium admiratione curavit’. The figures ‘46’ and ‘66’ may be misprints and should perhaps read ‘40’ and ‘60’, respectively.

12 The inventory, dated 10 September 1665, was in the ‘k.k. Stadthalterei-Archiv, Innsbruck, in einem Akt, die sog. ‘Leopoldina’ Lit. J. No. 40’; now in the Tiroler Landesarchiv, Innsbruck: see F. Waldner, ‘Zwei Inventarien aus dem XVI. und XVII. Jahrhundert über hinterlassene Musikinstrumente und Musikalien am Innsbruckier Hofe, Studien zu Musikwissenschaft, 4 (1916), pp. 128–47, at p. 134. The same inventory also lists, among several large-scale compositions, ‘Salmi scripti a 4., 5 Chori di Alessandro Striggio’ (ibid., p. 139), as well as a ‘Messa a 4 Chori, 16 voc. Di Ippolito Baccusi’ (p. 134) and a ‘Messe a 20. voc. Gaspari Villani’. A bust portrait of the composer (‘Alessandro Priggio’) is also listed (p. 131, no. 32) among a large group of composer portraits.

13 See R. Vollhardt, Bibliographie der Musik-Werke in der Ratsschulbibliothek zu Zwickau (Leipzig, 1893–6), p. 256 (no. 732): ‘Striggio (Alessandro) … 41 Stbll. [Stimmblätter] in folio, Handschrift, enhalten eine Motette in 4 Chören à 8, 10, 16, u. 6 voc. Text: Ecce beatam lucem.’ The chronogram is given at the end. A modern catalogue of the library’s holdings is in preparation. The work was discussed in Max Schneider, Die Anfänge des Basso Continuo (Leipzig, 1918), p. 6, and mentioned in G. Reese, Music in the Renaissance, rev. ed., (London, 1954), p. 487; both authors continued to refer to the work as being for four choirs.

14 The modern edition, with Preface, is by H. Keyte (London, 1980). Another edition, which has the advantage of retaining original note values, is by P. Legge (Melbourne, 2009; online at, both full score and separate scores for each choir).

15 For the 1565 proposal, see R. Hollingworth and H. Keyte, liner notes to Alessandro Striggio: Mass in 40 Parts Ecco sì beato giorno, Decca CD 478 2734 (2011), p. 13, and the corresponding microsite (; and, especially, D. Moroney, ‘The Polychoral Splendors of Renaissance Florence’, concert program notes (Cal Performances, Berkeley, California), 3–4 February 2012, pp. 14–31, esp. pp. 20–5 (on Ecce beatam lucem); online at

16 J. Baťa, ‘Remarks on the Festivities of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Prague (1585)’, Musicologica Brunensia, 51 (2016), pp. 25–35.

17 Cf. Moroney, ‘Striggio’s Mass’.

18 Ibid.

19 See Hollingworth and Keyte, liner notes to Striggio: Mass in 40 Parts, p. 13, and the corresponding microsite.

20 Schede adopted his second surname early on, taking it from that of his mother (Ottilie Melissa), and used it consistently from the 1570s in his signature and publications; his original surname may have been ‘Schad’. Melissus’ poetry is an important source for information about his life. The earliest biographical sources are J.-J. Boissard, Icones quinquaginta virorum illustrium doctrina & eruditione praestantium ad vivum effictae cum eorum vitis descriptis, 4 vols. in 2 (Leiden, 1597–9), II (I), pp. 86 (sic; correctly 84)–94 (believed to have been writen by Melissus himself; Boissard was a close friend of the poet); M. Adam, ‘Paulus Melissus Schedius’, in his Vitae Germanorum philosophorum: Qui seculo superiori, et quod excurrit, philosophicis ac humanioribus literis clari floruerunt (Heidelberg, 1615), pp. 446–53, based on Boissard and the funeral oration of Melissus’ son-in-law, Simon Stein (Stenius), and other sources (‘Ex oratione parentali Simonis Stenii, Iconibus Boissardi, et aliis’), which also covers the years to his death and offers some sympathetic remarks on his character.

21 Cf. J. L. Flood, Poets Laureate in the Holy Roman Empire: A Bio-Bibliographical Handbook, 5 vols. (Berlin and New York, 2006), IV, p. 1822, citing R. G. Czapla, ‘Zwischen politischem Partizipationsstreben und literarischer Standortsuche: Die Italienreise des pfälzischen Späthumanitisten Paul Schede Melissus’, in Lateinische Lyrik der frühen Neuzeit: Poetische Kleinformen und ihre Funktionen zwischen Renaissance und Aufklärung, ed. B. Czapla, R. G. Czapla and R. Seidel, Frühe Neuzeit, 77 (Tübingen, 2003), pp. 217–55, at p. 241.

22 Flood, Poets Laureate, IV, p. 1822.

23 Female acquaintances also formed part of his circle, including Anna von Palant (Anna Pallant, c. 1550–1599), a humanist and neo-Latin poet to whom Melissus addressed several poems. He reports having heard her sing a piece to words by Ronsard in Cologne: Schediasmata poetica (see n. 42 below), pp. 88–91. See also n. 33 below.

24 Melissus’ correspondence is scattered throughout libraries in Europe. The main source is the Staatsbibliothek in Munich, where much of it has been digitised ( 10 volumes, including poetry and autograph letters, are to be found there: Clm 735, 736, 760, 1659, 1831, 10367, 10368, 10383, 10741, 10789.

25 See T. Burkard, ‘Frühbarocker Manierismus? Zu Poetologie und poetischer Praxis in den Schediasmata des Paulus Schedius Melissus’, in Würzburger Humanismus, ed. T. Baier and J. Schultheiss, NeoLatina, 23 (Tübingen, 2015), pp. 209–43, at p. 215, who points to Melissus’ predilection for shorter lyric forms, his natural style of poetry, observance of decorum, imitation of all the ancient poets and restitution of their vocabulary and a rejection of Mannerist poetic forms.

26 Humanistiche Lyrik des 16. Jahrhunderts, ed. W. Kühlmann, R. Seidel and H. Wiegand, Bibliothek der Frühen Neuzeit, Abt. 1, 5, Bibliothek Deutscher Klassiker, 146 (Berlin, 1997), p. 914. The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies in Innsbruck has set itself the task of championing the subject. The best introduction to Melissus’ work remains E. Schäfer, Deutscher Horaz: Conrad Celtis, Georg Fabricius, Paul Melissus, Jacob Balde; Die Nachwirkungen des Horaz in der neulateinischen Dichtung Deutchlands (Wiesbaden, 1976).

27 Cf. Flood, Poets Laureate, IV, p. 1821, correcting J. H. Zedler, Grosses vollständiges Universal-Lexicon aller Wissenschafften und Künste, 64 vols. (Halle and Leipzig, 1731–54), XX (1739), cols. 521–2, at col. 521, who wrote that Melissus was made a laureate in 1561. On the value of the honour and its debasement in the course of the century, see K. Karrer, Johannes Posthius: Verzeichnis der Briefe und Werke mit Regesten und Posthius-Biographie (Wiesbaden, 1992), pp. 82–3, who cites in this respect J. Lipsius, Satyra Menippaea (Leiden?, 1581), pp. 9ff.

28 The copy in Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 4º Mus. pr. 15, is online at In the collection, there is a Threnodia de obitu reverendi viri D. Philippi Melanthonis, ‘Spargite humum lacrymis’ (no. XII), written on the death of the great Lutheran theologian Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560). The book ends with the epigrammatic ‘Si vox est, canta’ (no. XX; ‘If voice be, sing’), which features extended passages of melisma; the text is from Ovid, Ars amatoria, I, 595–6 (I am grateful to Silvia Reseghetti for this reference). On Melissus as a composer, see the articles in New Grove and MGG.

29 Cf. Die Psalmenübersetzung des Paul Schede Melissus, 1572, ed. M. H. Jellinek, Neudrücke Deutscher Litteraturwerke des XVI. und XVII. Jahrhunderts, 144–8 (Halle an der Saale, 1896) p. iii, n. 1.

30 See M. Kelber, Die Musik bei den Augsburger Reichstagen im 16. Jahrhundert (Munich, 2018), pp. 335–83.

31 Cf. P. de Nolhac, Un poète rhénan ami de la Pléiade: Paul Melissus (Paris, 1923), pp. 9–17; idem, Ronsard et l’humanisme (Paris, 1921), pp. 218–24.

32 Boissard, Icones, II (I), p. 88: ‘Anno 1567. profectus per Belgium in Galliam comite itineris Ioanne Lobetio Iurisconsulto experientissimo, cum substitisset aliquandiu Lutetiae [Paris], salutassetque Petrum Ramum, Dionysium Lambinum, Ioannem Auratum, Erricum Memmium, audivissetque Professores regios, contulit se Aurelianum [Orléans] ad Ligurim, ubi incidit in tumultus illos bellicose, qui movebantur die 29. Septemb. per totum regnum ob diversitatem religionis [the ‘Michelade’].’

33 Cf. Nolhac, Ronsard et l’humanisme, p. 219. Melissus addressed poems to Morel and his famously erudite daughter Camille. See too J. Robert, ‘Deutsch-französische Dornen: Paul Schede Melissus und die Rezeption der Pléiade in Deutschland’, in Abgrenzung und Synthese: Lateinische Dichtung und volkssprachliche Traditionen in Renaissance und Barock, ed. M. Föcking and G. M. Müller (Heidelberg, 2007), pp. 207–29.

34 He was the creator and principal exponent of the ‘ode pindarique’. One model for Melissus was Ronsard’s Quatre premiers livres des odes, probably written between 1546 and 1552, and published between 1550 and 1552. It began with fifteen Pindaric odes.

35 On Pindar (in English), see C. M. Bowra, Pindar (Oxford, 1964); S. Hornblower, Thucydides and Pindar: Historical Narrative and World of Epinikian Poetry (Oxford, 2004). On Pindar and music, see W. Anderson and T. J. Mathiesen, ‘Pindar’, New Grove, XIX, pp. 750–1; W. D. Anderson, Music and Musicians in Ancient Greece (Ithaca, NY, 1994), pp. 94–109; T. J. Mathiesen, Apollo’s Lyre: Greek Music and Music Theory in Antiquity and the Middle Age (Lincoln, NE, 1999), pp. 135–41.

36 Cf. P. Ford, The Judgment of Palaemon: The Contest between Neo-Latin and Vernacular Poetry in Renaissance France (Leiden and Boston, 2013), pp. 186–7.

37 Schediasmata poetica (see n. 42 below), pp. 31–3, at p. 33; my translation. Quoted in Schäfer, Deutscher Horaz, p. 67. Cf. Ford, The Judgment of Palaemon, p. 201.

38 Cf. Schäfer, Deutscher Horaz, p. 66.

39 See Jellinek, Die Psalmenübersetzung; R. G. Czapla, ‘Transformationen des Psalters in Spannungsfeld von gemeinschftlicher Adhortation und individueller Meditation: Paul Schede, Psalmen Davids und Psalmi aliquot’, in Der Genfer Psalter und seine Rezeption in Deutschland, der Schweiz und den Niederlanden, ed. E. Grunewald et al. (Tübingen, 2004), pp. 195–215; M. Laube, ‘Music and Confession in Heidelberg, 1556–1618’ (PhD diss., Royal Holloway College, University of London, 2014), esp. pp. 92–7.

40 There, in 1572, with his close friend Johannes Posthius, a fellow poet and physician whom he had met in Paris in 1567, he also formed the Collegium Posthimelissaeum – in effect a drinking club and poets’ circle. Together with other poets in Nuremberg, they published a variety of pamphlets in the following two years.

41 Laube, Music and Confession, p. 95.

42 Melissi Schediasmata poetica [197 pp.]; item Fidleri Flumina (Frankfurt am Main, 1574); Melissi Schediasmatum reliquiae [451 pp.] (Frankfurt am Main, 1575).

43 Cf. Schäfer, ‘Paulus Melissus Schedius (1539–1602): Leben in Versen’, in Humanismus im Deutschen Südwesten: Biographische Profile, ed. P. G. Schmidt (Sigmaringen, 1993), pp. 239–63, at p. 242.

44 The poems to Lassus are included in both the Schediasmata poetica (pp. 76–7, 111–13) and the Schediasmatum reliquiae (pp. 63–4, 64). The most famous of them, ‘Non ita laetanti Ariona ab undis’, inspired by rumours of Lasso’s death, is included in Humanistiche Lyrik, p. 808 ff. In it, Melissus recalls their first meeting in the 1560s and how Lasso inspired his own musical composition.

45 In the Schediasmatum reliquiae: poem to Vaet (‘In funere Iacobi Vaeti musici Cesarei’), pp. 65–6; to Jacob Meiland, pp. 69, 140; three poems to Goudimel, pp. 78–80. Melissus also reprinted, pp. 82–4, two of Goudimel’s letters to him, written in 1570 and 1572 respectively.

46 Melissi Schediasmata poetica: Secundo edita multo auctiora, 3 vols. (Paris, 1586). See n. 62 below.

47 He drew up a list – probably in Nuremberg during the 1580s – alternating Pindaric and Horatian odes, including titles and strophe form, that came to fruition between 1575 and 1582: cf. Schäfer, Deutscher Horaz, p. 73. Original in Heidelberg University Library, MS 1610, 22. The list includes the ode addressed to Zarlino.

48 See Karrer, Johannes Posthius, pp. 74–5.

49 Cf. Schäfer, ‘Paulus Melissus Schedius’, p. 250.

50 The ode, ‘Iuveni modestissimo quae canam’, addressed to Johannes Rosbach of Meissen, was printed in Schediasmata poetica (21586), I, pp. 33–5.

51 They included the Frenchman Antoine Muret (classical philologist and friend of Ronsard, resident in Rome), Flavio Orsini (antiquarian and librarian at Palazzo Farnese in Rome), Pietro Vettori (Florence), Pietro Angèlio da Barga, the historian Carlo Sigonio (Bologna), the antiquarian Jacopo Strada (Mantua) and the editor Aldo Manuzio (Venice) – all addressed in odes by Melissus.

52 See Schäfer, Deutscher Horaz, p. 71, citing an imitation (parodia) of Horace’s Ode I.29, addressed to Justus Lipsius, composed in Siena in 1579, first published in Nuremberg in 1581 and reprinted in Melissus’ Meletemata pia (see n. 64 below), pp. 362–3, at p. 363, making that intention clear: ‘… Quis neget alteris/Senes renasci posse formas/Matribus, et juvenes reverti; // Cum multum amatos nunc ego nobiles/Libros Horati, Pindaricam & chelyn/Mutare vexillis Etruscis,/Lucra petens meliora, tendo?’ (Who could deny that from new/mothers age-old beings will be born again?/and as youths could once more return, // if I now seek to exchange the much-loved, noble/books of Horace and Pindar’s lyre/for Tuscan banners/striving for better advantage?)

53 Cf. Czapla, ‘Zwischen politischem Partizipationsstreben’, p. 243. On Nuremberg, see G. Strauss, Nuremberg in the Sixteenth Century (New York, 1966); on its musical culture, see S. Gattuso, ‘Nuremberg’, New Grove, XVIII, pp. 241–3; eadem, ‘Sixteenth-Century Nuremberg’, in Man and Music: The Renaissance: from the 1470s to the End of the 18th Century, ed. I. Fenlon (London, 1989), pp. 286–303; S. L. Hammond, Editing Music in Early Modern Germany (Aldershot, 2007), especially chap. 2: ‘Friedrich Lindner: Working for a Local Clientele’, pp. 45–65.

54 Schediasmata poetica (21586), III, p. 113: Ad suavissimum musicae patriciae sodalitium in urbe Noribergae, ‘Quo primum peramica die consortia vestra’.

55 The quotation is from K. Ameln, ‘Lechner, Leonhard’, in New Grove, XIV, pp. 441–4 (and bibliography). On musical printing, see Hammond, Editing Music.

56 The text does not appear in any of Melissus’ poetry collections; modern edn of the music in L. Lechner, Werke, ed. U. Martin (Kassel, 1998), XIV, pp. 39–75; see also Introduction, pp. 22–8, which includes a translation of the text into German.

57 See W. Rombach, CD booklet for L. Lechner, Geistliche Festmusik (1582) (Christophorus CD 77367, 2013), p. 11. Martin, Introduction to Lechner, Werke, XIV, p. 22, describes it as ‘one of the most interesting and most complex works of the sixteenth century’.

58 See Schediasmata poetica (21586), I, pp. 51–2 (a Pindaric ode); III, pp. 106–7, 114, 117, 118. There is also a Dialogus in gratiam Nicolai Comitis Ostrorogii: Octo vocum harmonia concinnatus a Leonardo Lechnero, ‘Unde novum precor ignotae venistis in orbem?’, ibid., III, pp. 152–3; the music does not seem to have survived.

59 See J. E. Philips, ‘Elizabeth I as a Latin Poet: An Epigram on Paul Melissus’, Renaissance News, 16 (1963), pp. 289–98. She called him ‘vatum princeps’.

60 Cf. Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Elizabeth, 1581–1590, ed. R. Lemon (London, 1868), p. 300; cited in Schäfer, ‘Paulus Melissus Schedius’, p. 253.

61 Schediasmata poetica (21586), I, pp. 29–30 (Zarlino), 51–2 (Lechner), 53–4 (Rosina), 55–7 (Boncompagni), 85–7 (Este wedding). The first three books of Melica are ordered according to the status of the person addressed. Books 4–9 are autobiographical in character: 4: Youth (1560–77); 5: Italy (1577–9); 6: Nomination as Comes Palatinus (Knight of the Palatine, 1579–80); 8: Nuremberg and Augsburg (1583–4); 9: Paris and preparation for visit to England. All the odes in the Melica are Horatian in form.

62 Musicians addressed in Schediasmata poetica (21586), III, include Lasso (pp. 88–9, 121–2), Theodor Cyssa (p. 90), Meiland (pp. 93, 101), Goudimel (pp. 99, 263–4), Lechner (pp. 106–7, 114, 117, 118), another to Zarlino (pp. 108–9), Valentin Greff Bakfark (p. 109), Andrea Gabrieli (pp. 118–9), and Jacques Edinton, ‘Regum Franc. musico’ (p. 122). In a poem to Rosina (pp. 89–90), Melissus mentions that he set it to music himself (‘Cantionem quinque vocum harmonia/a se concinnatam’). There is also a poem in praise of music (In praefationem Ulrichi Sitzingeri ic. De laudibus musicae, pp. 119–20), which ends ‘Musica res sancta est. obscenum et turpe facessat;/Non habet in sacris lingua profana locum.’

63 J. Robert, ‘Manierismus des Niedrigen: Paul Schede Melissus und die deutsche Lyrik um 1600’, Daphnis, 39 (2010), pp. 577–610, at p. 579.

64 Melissi Meletematum piorum libri VIII; Paraeneticorum II; Parodiarum II; Psalmi aliquot (Frankfurt am Main, 1595).

65 Ibid., Lib. III, Ode XV, pp. 89–90.

66 Cf. Robert, ‘Manierismus’, 580, who cites Melissus’ biographer Adam, Vitae Germanorum philosophorum: ‘His poems, especially the lyrics, were so carefully and elegantly polished, that in his time he was judged to be the leading poet not only in Italy, France and Germany but also as one who, because of his talent, overshadowed the poets of previous centuries’. But even Melissus realised by the end of his life (1598) that the time of Latin verse was over (ibid.).

67 This is not to say that Melissus had not become acquainted with Ronsard’s verse, which enjoyed considerable acclaim, before he left Vienna. Nolhac, Un poète rhénan, suggests avenues by which Melissus would have known about Ronsard through contacts at the Imperial court.

68 Schäfer, Deutscher Horaz.

69 Originally proposed by Fenlon and Keyte, ‘Memorialls of Great Skill’, pp. 333–4.

70 The terms applied to describe the forty-part works in 1561 should also be borne in mind. The Florentine diarist Agostino Lapini, who was also a bass singer at Florence Cathedral, referred in 1561 to a forty-part ‘Canzona’ being performed; a month later, Striggio sent what he called a ‘Musica’ in forty parts to Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga in Mantua, celebrating the duke and his recent marriage to a Habsburg princess. Both terms, Canzona and Musica, almost certainly indicate that the words set were in Italian rather than in Latin.

71 See Humanistische Lyrik, pp. 1470–1.

72 More freely, ‘Song of the divinely inspired, in praise of the New Jerusalem’. See Meletemata, pp. 89–90. Schäfer, Deutscher Horaz, p. 86, discusses the text and reproduces the strophe, with a translation into German. The full text, with German translation and commentary, is included in Humanistiche Lyrik, pp. 846–9, 1470–2.

73 Literally ‘turn’, ‘counterturn’ and ‘after-song’, respectively, referring to the movements of the chorus members as dancers: Anderson, Music and Musicians in Ancient Greece, p. 95. Schäfer, Deutscher Horaz, p. 83, writes: ‘Melissus’ Pindaric verse owes a debt to classical testimony and to Estienne’s versions: they are to be understood partly as traditional lyric poetry with free variations, partly as combinations of different poetic feet, and are much closer to Pindar than the Pindaric odes of Ronsard.’

74 The following section is indebted to J. Schultheiss, ‘Pindarrezeption bei Paulus Melissus Schede: Zu drei Epithalamien in den Schediasmata’, in Würzburger Humanismus, ed. Thomas Baier and Jochen Schultheiss, NeoLatina, 23 (Tübingen, 2015), pp. 245–67.

75 Cf. Hornblower, Thucydides and Pindar, pp. 17 ff.

76 See Schultheiss, ‘Pindarrezeption bei Paulus Melissus Schede’, pp. 252–8, for a detailed discussion of three diverse epithalamia.

77 ‘Bacchus, where am I? Flushed/With god, to what groves, caves am I being rushed/Inspired?’ The Odes of Horace, transl. J. Michie (Harmondsworth, 1967), pp. 202–3.

78 The text sung in all recordings and reprinted in concert programmes contains a crucial error here, one that is relevant to its interpretation. The fourth line of the first verse should read ‘Praesto ver novum’ (Here is a new spring), not ‘Praesto nec novum’ (variously translated as ‘Here and not new’ or ‘and always have been’ or ‘as they always have been‘) – in other words, something to look forward to, not something that belongs to the past. Cf. Fenlon and Keyte, ‘Memorialls of Great Skill’, p. 330, the apparent source of the original error. Baťa, ‘Remarks’, p. 32, reprints the correct Latin text but perpetuates the wrong translation, as does Rainer, ‘La quale fu cantata molto bene’, p. 217.

79 See, for example, the phrase ‘Haec voluptas, haec quies’ in the epode, line 40, and cf. Augustine, The City of God against the Pagans, ed. and trans. W. C. Greene, Loeb Classical Library, 416 (Cambridge, MA, 1960), Book XIX, p. 100: two of the four ‘primary wants of nature’, pleasure and repose.

80 Cf. the commentary to the poem in Humanistiche Lyrik, pp. 1471–2.

81 Cf. Humanistische Lyrik, p. 1470. With his poem Melissus stands at the period immediately before the great edifying writers Leonhard Hutter, Johann Gerhard and especially Johann Matthäus Meyfart, who presented at length the Protestant doctrine of ‘last things’ – see Meyfart’s well-known hymn ‘Jerusalem du hochgebaute Stadt’, in Gedichte des Barock, ed. U. Mache and V. Meid (Stuttgart, 1986), pp. 41–3.

82 See M. Massing, Fatal Discord: Erasmus, Luther, and the Fight for the Western Mind (New York, 2018), Introduction, p. xiv; pp. 763–72.

83 Cf. Laube, Music and Confession in Heidelberg, pp. 17–18.

84 Fenlon and Keyte, ‘Memorialls of Great Skill’, pp. 333–4; when they wrote, the text had not yet been identified as being by Melissus.

85 Moroney, ‘The Polychoral Splendors of Renaissance Florence’, pp. 20–5.

86 Rainer, ‘La quale fu cantata molto bene’, 217–18. Rainer also suggests that ‘music-loving Duke Albrecht was able to be identified with King David, who praises God through his Cantorey’ and that ‘it is even within the realm of the possible that Lasso engaged Melissus to write a contrafactum to an existing composition that Striggio had made’ (p. 218). For Ecce beatam lucem as a contrafactum, but in a quite different context, given the likely circumstances of the text’s composition, see below.

87 Cf. Laube’s discussion of court wedding festivities in Music and Confession in Heidelberg, pp. 233–50. The idea that Calvinists did not favour elaborate music has to be qualified.

88 I am most grateful to Dr. Gregor Hermann, Deputy Librarian of the Ratsschulbibliothek in Zwickau, for his help and advice in the writing of this section. A new printed catalogue of the library’s manuscript sources from the 16th and 17th centuries is in preparation.

89 Shelfmark Mus. 109.1.

90 See H. Nickel, Die Inkunabeln der Ratsschulbibliothek Zwickau: Geschichte und Bestand der Sammlung, mit einem Anhang zu den Einblattdrucken des Stadtarchivs Zwickau (Wiesbaden, 2017); G. Hermann, ‘“Liberia ecclesiae” – “bibliotheca gymnasii” – “bibliotheca publica”: Genese und Funktion der Ratsschulbibliothek Zwickau im Spiegel bürgerlicher Bildungsvorsorge um 1500’, in Bürgers Bücher: Laien als Anreger und Adressaten in Sachsens Literatur um 1500, ed. C. Fasbender and G. Mierke, Euros, 6 (Würzburg, 2017), pp. 25–6.

91 The historic collection, comprising around 2,500 manuscripts and printed editions dating from the 15th to the 18th centuries, was first organised and catalogued by the Kantor Reinhard Vollhardt (1858–1926): see R. Vollhardt, Bibliographie der Musik-Werke in der Ratsschulbibliothek zu Zwickau (Leipzig, 1893–6).

92 Not to be confused with the composer, doctor and music publisher of the same name (Amberg, 1510–Nuremberg, 1568). See G. Hermann, ‘Handschriften aus dem Umfeld der Dresdner Hofkapelle’, in Die mehrstimmigen Musikhandschriften des 15. bis 17. Jahrhunderts der Ratsschulbibliothek Zwickau, ed. idem, Dresdner Schriften zur Musik, 18 (Baden-Baden, 2023), pp. 128–37, at pp. 132–3. I am most grateful to Gregor Hermann for sending me an uncorrected proof of this chapter.

93 Cf. G. Hermann, ‘Die historische Musiksammlung’, in Ratsschulbibliothek Zwickau: Kleiner Bibliotheksführer (Zwickau, 2015), pp. 21–30, esp. pp. 21–2, 25. On Freundt, see L. Hoffmann-Erbrecht, ‘Freundt, Cornelius’, in Neue Deutsche Biographie, 5 (1961), p. 414 (online at; W. Brennecke, ‘Freundt, Cornelius’, in New Grove, IX, p. 255.

94 Ratsschulbibliothek, Ms. 165 [Repositorium Ratsschulbibliothek 1546–1698]; catalogue record at

95 Cf. C. M. Briquet, Les filigranes: Dictionnaire historique des marques du papier des leur apparition vers 1282 jusqu’en 1600, 2nd edn, 4 vols. (Leipzig, 1923; repr. Hildesheim, 1991), I, p. 115; first cited and reproduced in Baťa, ‘Remarks on the Festivities’, p. 30.

96 Private correspondence with Dr. Gregor Hermann, Deputy Librarian of the Ratsschulbibliothek, Zwickau.

97 The possibility of there being more than one copyist involved in the source cannot be discounted; indeed, it seems likely, given some significant divergences in the shapes of clefs, notes and finals, and also in the form of capitals in the text underlay. It should also be borne in mind that the Zwickau copy was based on a previous copy which may have been responsible for the introduction of several of the errors and discrepancies discussed below.

98 Rainer, ‘La quale fu cantata molto bene’, p. 209, suggests that ‘the naming and hierarchy of the choirs in the manuscript do follow a custom of this time: as was usual in the case of polychoral works then, each choir in the Zwickau manuscript is described according to the order of its entrance.’ But the division into four choirs does not reflect the nature of the composition itself, which may be described as polymorphous.

99 This error has been repeated and extended in the modern literature, from Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance (1954), Leuchtmann (1980), Fenlon and Keyte (1980), Haar, Man and Music (1989), New Grove (2000) and MGG, to Moroney (2005 and 2012). Fenlon/Keyte (1980) and Moroney (2012, p. 21) also state that Troiano in his Dialoghi of 1568/9 specifically referred to the four-choir division of the work performed in Munich – but this is not the case. Had Troiano done so, there would be a clear link between the surviving source in Zwickau and the Munich wedding motetto. Troiano, Discorsi, p. 183; Dialoghi, fols. 146v–147r, specified ‘Eight trombones, eight bowed viols, eight large flutes, a harpsichord and a large lute, and the voices supplied all the rest’.

100 Cf. for example, Fenlon and Keyte, ‘Memorialls of Great Skill’, pp. 330–1; Moroney, ‘Alessandro Striggio’s Mass’, p. 37.

101 Some examples: ‘qm’ (‘quam’) for ‘quae’, ‘met’ for ‘meta’ (elision), ‘paradissum’ or ‘paradysum’ for ‘Paradisum’ (l. 42). Note also that ‘DEVM’ is found in both manuscript and edition.

102 Cf. Fenlon and Keyte, ‘Memorialls of Great Skill’, 333, for transcription and discussion. A literal transcription (taking account of Gregor Hermann’s version) reads: ‘Bassone canato dalla parte più basce del. 40 Per/sona nimerro [the two r’s are unalike] tescircalo con un bronbone [un tronbone] No. 41/per sostentamento della ’armonia per sona/ris con Orgono Liulo et Cimboli o uiole’.

103 Epistula V, lines 151–3 (the nymph Oenone to Paris, son of King Priam of Troy): Quod neque graminibus tellus fecunda errantis,/Nec deus, auxilium tu mihi ferre potes./Et potes, et merui’ (Skilled in an art, I am left helpless by the very art I know; The aid that neither earth, fruitful in the bringing forth of herbs, nor a god himself can give, you have the power to bestow on me. You can bestow it, and I have merited), See Ovid, Heroides; Amores, 2nd edn, ed. and trans. G. Showerman, rev. G. P. Goold, Loeb Classical Library, 41 (Cambridge, MA, 1977), pp. 68–9.

104 Following the chronogram, the copyist signs off with what appears to be a decorative flourish, in which a rudimentary stave, two treble-clef-like shapes and rest-like signs can be discerned.

105 Baťa, ‘Some Remarks’, p. 30.

106 Fenlon and Keyte, ‘Memorialls of Great Skill’, pp. 330, 334, n. 8.

107 Hermann, ‘Handschriften aus dem Umfeld der Dresdner Hofkapelle’, p. 133. No possible occasion is mentioned in the contemporary Zwickau chronicles of Peter Schumann and Johannes Tretwein. In the surviving manuscript sources in Zwickau which were known to have been used for performance, there is no music for more than 12 voices. Cf. also M. Schoppe, ‘Zwickau’, New Grove, XXVII, pp. 892–3, who mentions the boys of the cathedral choir and its organists, the Ratsschule, where choral singing took place, and the Stadtpfeiferei.

108 Unless, of course, the original copyist, using the final text, deliberately modified it – taking out punctuation and capitalisation, for example – in the manuscript copy; but this seems unlikely. Questions are raised, too, by the exclusion of the Ode’s first part, the Strophe, from the musical setting.

109 Cf. W. Steude, ‘Dresden’, New Grove, VII, pp. 566–7, and bibliography. See now Kurfürst August von Sachsen: Ein nachreformatorischer ‘Friedensfürst’ zwischen Territorium und Reich, ed. W. Müller, M. Schattkowsky and D. Syndram (Dresden, 2017), pp. 212 ff. See above all Hermann, ‘Handschriften aus dem Umfeld der Dresdner Hofkapelle’. In 1554 the electoral Kantorei included 25 singers and seven Netherlandish musicians. On Antonio Scandello (1517–1580), the Kapellmeister at the electoral court from 1568 to his death, ‘one of the most important musicians in Germany during the second half of the sixteenth century’ (D. O. Heuchemer, ‘Scandello, Antonio’, New Grove, XXII, p. 369), see D. O. Heuchemer, ‘Italian Musicians in Dresden in the Second Half of the Sixteenth Century, with an Emphasis on the Lives and Works of Antonio Scandello and Giovanni Battista Pinello di Ghirardi’ (PhD diss., University of Cincinnati, 1997).

110 Cf. Leuchtmann, Orlando di Lasso, pp. 249–50; Kirkendale, The Court Musicians, p. 81, citing O. Doering (ed.), Der Augsburger Patriciers Philipp Hainhofer Reisen nach Innsbruck und Dresden (Vienna, 1901), p. 233.

111 Leonhard Lechner had closer dealings with the Dresden electoral court: he was in contention for the post of Hofkapellmeister there in 1584.

112 The denomination ‘Jehovah’, in reference to the Supreme Being, is similarly associated with the Protestant movement in the early 16th century.

113 Moroney, ‘The Polychoral Splendors’, p. 24.

114 P. Brett, ‘Facing the Music’, Early Music, 10 (1982), pp. 347–50, at p. 347.

115 A similar unique use of B♭ occurs in Striggio’s two Mixolydian settings in his Primo libro de madrigali a sei voci (Venice, 1560): Madonna, poich’occidermi volete (no. 5, bar 57, ‘doglia’) and Se ben di sette stell’ardent’e belle (no. 6, seconda parte, bars 115–18, ‘Facesti col tuo duol’), ed. D. S. Butchart in Alessandro Striggio: Il primo libro de madrigali a sei voci, 2 vols., Recent Researches in the Music of the Renaissance, 70–1 (Madison WI, 1986), pp. 42, 50 respectively.

116 The possibility that, at one time, there existed a musical setting of the strophe – involving a solo voice, with instrumental accompaniment – has been put forward by Hugh Keyte. Although this would provide a more natural ‘solution’ for the existence of the complete ode, there is no documentary evidence that such a composition existed.

117 See, for example, Schediasmata (21586), III, p. 89: ‘Mittit Rosinae Cantionem quinque vocum harmonia a se concinnatam’; pp. 152–3: ‘Dialogus in gratiam Nicolai comitis Ostrorogii, Octo vocum harmonia concinnatus a Leonardo Lechnero’.

118 Cf. Rainer’s ‘comprehensive hypothesis’, ‘La quale fu cantata molto bene’, p. 219: ‘in 1561, Striggio composed a madrigal entitled Ecco sì beato giorno à 40 which, circulating in different copies, landed in Munich in 1564 and received a contrafactum from Paul Melissus for the royal wedding in 1568, and for which (as reported by Troiano) Lasso designed instrumentation as Ecce beatam lucem, to be performed on March 7th 1568 in Munich.’