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Works and Reception
Kapsberger is today remembered primarily for his highly inventive and idiosyncratic music for lute and, especially, theorbo. He published four books of music for chitarrone, (one lost) and two books of lute music, (one lost) with a few additional pieces found in various manuscripts.
Kapsberger applied modern stylistic innovations to the theorbo. His success at combining intrepid aesthetic experimentation with idiomatic technical means is all the more remarkable when one considers the substantial organological changes the instrument underwent during his lifetime. While a handful of late pieces are written for the chromatic 19-course theorbo, the vast majority of his pieces (including all of the Libro primo) call for a chitarrone of eleven courses or less. This actually associates his theorbo music as much with the re-entrant-tuned bass lute as with the large Roman tiorba favored by many today.
Music for solo plucked strings actually comprises only a small portion of Kapsberger’s output. By contrast, compositions in other genres include twelve volumes of secular monodies, six books of sacred vocal music, two collections of instrumental dances and sinfonias, masses and operas. Notable in this corpus are two books of monodic settings of poetry by the aforementioned Urban VIII, an opera commissioned to celebrate the canonization of St. Ignatius Loyola (founder of the Jesuit order), and a cantata performed at the Pitti Palace in Florence. Several large works are known to be lost.
As a composer, Kapsberger enjoyed an international reputation and his music was highly regarded by the most stellar musical minds of the day. The erudite theorist Athanasius Kircher called him a “superb genius” who “successfully penetrated the secrets of music” and even considered him a worthy successor of Monteverdi.
Fortunately, Kapsberger’s position in the seicento cultural milieu underwent some scholarly reassessment in the latter half of the 20th century, primarily via the research of Paul Kast and Victor Coelho. Through new recordings and editions such as this one, today we can finally appreciate the bold, ingenious, sometimes delightfully quirky musical personality of this unique and important artist.
Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (or Hieronymus Kapsperger) was the son of one Wilhelm Kapsberger, a colonel in the employ of the Imperial House of Austria. Due to this Teutonic heritage and prowess on the theorbo, he bore the epithet, Il Tedesco della tiorba. Nothing is known of his training. Early activities centered in Venice, where his music was first published in 1604.
In 1605 Kapsberger was in Rome where he gained entry into several prestigious academies and lay religious orders including the Accademia degl’Imperfetti and the Accademia degli Umoristi and the orders of St. Stephen and St. John. In 1624, he entered the patronage of Cardinal Francesco Barberini. This was a most prominent position, as the powerful and influential Barberini were the greatest patrons of the arts in Rome at the time.
A considerable number of Kapsberger’s publications were dedicated to extended members of the family, including Pope Urban VIII, (Maffeo Barberini) who is often remembered today as the sitting pontiff during the trial of Galileo Galilei. In this circle, Kapsberger worked beside Girolamo Frescobaldi and Stefano Landi as well as many high-ranking men of letters, including another future pontiff, Clement IX (Giulio Rospigliosi). An additional colleague under Barberini patronage would play a fateful role in shaping Kapsberger’s reputation for posterity: the theorist Giovanni Battista Doni.
In 1640, Kapsberger published for the final time. Due to blatant nepotism and fiscal irresponsibility, the Barbarini family was eventually forced out of Rome, and Kapsberger was compelled to leave the Cardinal’s entourage in 1646. From this time on until his death, his activities are unknown. In 1651, he was buried in the church of St. Biaggio in Rome, age 71.
Christopher Wilke | Le Luth Doré ©2015
Toccata 2a Arpeggiata Toccata 3a
Ruggiero con partite
Aria di Fiorenza con partite
Ballo Todescho 1o
Ballo Todescho 2o
Ballo Todescho 3o
Ballo Todescho 4o
Romanescha con partite
Pass’e mezzo con partite
3a di B molle
Ballo Francese 1o
Ballo Ballo Francese 2o
Ballo Ballo Francese 3o
Ballo Ballo Francese 4o
Tenore del Kapsperger
Christopher Wilke developed a love for music early in life. As a child he began to compose music before he’d even learned to play an instrument. In high school he took up the electric guitar and bass and played in several bands.
He went on to study guitar and composition at the College of Mt. St. Joseph followed by a Master’s degree in classical guitar from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. He recently completed his doctorate in Early Music Performance at the Eastman School of Music, where his advisor was the renowned lutenist, Paul O'Dette.
A dedicated teacher, Dr. Wilke has taught guitar, lute, and directed music ensembles. In addition to teaching many private lessons and ensembles, Wilke also founded Early Music Ensembles and a large Guitar Orchestra. Several of his compositions have been published by Les Productions d'Oz in Montreal.
Dr. Wilke performs widely, having given solo recitals in Italy and Germany as well as throughout the United States. His recordings have been featured on many radios.
As a musician and lutenist, Richard Civiol has chosen as his life's work the study of the lute and theorbp. These instruments have basically disappeared from our contemporary orchestras while growing in visibility in smaller ensembles and solo performances thanks in part to his efforts.
He participates with the same enthusiasm and expertise in the renaissance and baroque repertory of all the different instruments of the lute family as well as the practice of basso continuo.
Civiol is a member of the ensemble "Les Musiciens des Mademoiselle de Guise" directed by Laurence Pottier, and they have performed both in France and abroad. They have also done several CDs together. Civiol is a member of the music ensemble "L'Oiseliere", and has collaborated with other ensembles, orchestras or chorales including"La Fabrique a Theatre", the chamber choir "Les Temperaments", and has worked with Jean-Francois Fremont, Didier Bouture, Christophe Sam and Romain Champion.
Civiol is the holder of the Premier Prix in musical composition (in Paris, France?).
Finally, Civiol is engaged in a large project of copying and restoring music for the lute, theorbo and vihuela.
• Editor(s): Christopher Wilke & Richard Civiol
• Music period: Baroque
• Instrument(s): 14c Theorbo
• Instrumentation: Theorbo solo
• Notation: Italian & French tablature
• Modern edition: Urtext
• Publisher: Le Luth Doré Urtext Editions
• Year of publication: 2015
• Collection: Lute and Theorbo Music Collection
• Pages: pp. 174
• Dimensions: 230x310 mm
• Weight: 0,320g
• Binding: Section sewn glue binding
• ISMN: 377-0-0017-8820-3
Le Luth Doré Urtext Editions
The Le Luth Doré Urtext Editions offer musicians and musicologists worldwide reliable and authoritative musical texts. The main features are:
• superb and aesthetically appealing music engraving
• optimized for practical use (page turns, fingerings)
• books originally in Italian tablature are published in both Italian and French tablatures
• high-quality and durable (cover, paper, binding)
• both original and modern prefaces, documentation of the corrections made and explanatory footnotes in English, French, Italian, German …
About Le Luth Doré Urtext Editions
Our editions are urtext: we strive to provide reliable musical texts that are as true as possible to the existing sources and the composer’s intentions. We are aware, of course, that it is impossible to reconstruct the one and only urtext. Often, several manuscript sources exist for the same piece, and there is little reliable guidance for determining which version best represents the composer's intentions.
Although we cannot entirely dissipate historical uncertainty, we can compare texts and correct obvious errors, which sometimes occur even in autograph manuscripts. Sources have been meticulously examined - note by note, mark by mark.
The most important observations and editorial decisions are elucidated in the prefaces, in the critical commentary, in footnotes, or marked as such in the musical text. It therefore comes as no surprise that an editor has to invest a great deal of patience, knowledge and time when piecing together an urtext that is true to the source and, hopefully, to the composers’ intentions as well. Proven specialists with extensive knowledge and experience edit our Le Luth Doré Urtext Editions in close cooperation with our Editorial Department.
Each verified musical text preserves the original fingerings and notation of ornamentation and, in the absence of original manuscript notations, also sets forth helpful suggestions by modern masters regarding useful fingerings and ornaments faithful to historical style, as a stimulus to further thought and a starting point for the student's approach to performance.
We are deeply grateful to all the extraordinary musicologists, music teachers and artists that put their knowledge and experience at our disposal for Le Luth Doré Urtext Editions.
Le Luth Doré ©2015