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Eccard, Johannes
(b Mühlhausen, Thuringia, 1553; d Berlin, 1611). German composer. He was a
pupil at the Lateinschule in Mühlhausen where he probably received his first
musical training from the young Kantor Joachim a Burck. He was a chorister in
the Kapelle of the Weimar court from 1569 until its disbandment in 1571, and
from then until the end of 1573 he sang in the Bavarian Hofkapelle in Munich;
he was also a pupil of Lassus there. During winter 1573–4, while living in
Mühlhausen, he renewed an earlier acquaintance with Joachim a Burck, and
formed an association with the poet Ludwig Helmbold, who had been there as a
deacon since 1571. Eccard’s parents left Mühlhausen in 1579, his father having
been accused of illicit relations with a married woman. In 1577 and 1578 the
composer was in the household of Jakob Fugger in Augsburg, and he
dedicated to him his five-part mass Mon coeur se recommende à vous. In 1579
he stayed briefly in Mühlhausen to obtain a certificate of birth, which he needed
in order to take up service with Margrave Georg Friedrich of Brandenburg-
Ansbach, who, having been appointed administrator of the Duchy of Prussia in
1578, had moved with his musicians to Königsberg.
In the Kapelle registers for 1580 Eccard’s name appeared for the first time
under the list of singers; the household establishment book, however, referred
to him from the beginning as vice-Kapellmeister. In 1586 the margrave returned
to Ansbach with his Kapellmeister (Teodore Riccio) and the larger part of his
musical establishment, leaving Eccard in Königsberg as vice-Kapellmeister.
Although Eccard in fact fulfilled there the duties of a first-in-charge, he was not
appointed Kapellmeister proper until 1604 when Elector Joachim Friedrich of
Brandenburg became administrator of Prussia after the death of Margrave
Georg Friedrich. In 1608 Joachim Friedrich gave Eccard sole charge of the
music at his principal residence in Berlin; the composer remained there as
Kapellmeister until his death, serving both Joachim Friedrich and his successor,
Johann Sigismund.
Eccard’s work centres largely on the Lutheran chorale. During the second half
of the 16th century the chorale was developed simultaneously in two
contrasting ways: on the one hand the melody was transferred from the tenor to
the highest part and simply harmonized; on the other hand it was freely treated
in elaborate polyphonic style. Eccard contributed to both lines of development.
The Geistlicher Lieder auff den Choral of 1597 belong to the simpler genre; the
preface to the publication shows clearly the connection of the work with Lucas
Osiander’s four-part 50 geistliche Lieder und Psalmen(chorales and psalms set
polyphonically in such a way as to enable a congregation to participate in their
singing). Eccard’s settings somewhat overshadow those of Osiander, however,
not only because of their fuller five-part texture, but because of the cleverly
worked-out inner parts that create an illusion of polyphony; nevertheless, even
the most elaborate settings are not so difficult as to prevent the congregation
from joining in the top line.
Together with Lechner, Hans Leo Hassler, and Michael Praetorius in particular,
Eccard was one of the principal Protestant composers of chorale motets (the
alternative genre) working at the turn of the 17th century and in this field lies his
most important contribution. The motets from the two volumes of Preussischen
Festlieder (published with works of Stobaeus in 1642 and 1644) show that he
was a ‘true disciple of the world-famous and celebrated Orlandi [Lassus]’ in that
he, like his teacher, was capable of realizing the full implications of the text in
terms of close word-note relationships and appropriately varied textures:
settings like the five-part Übers Gebirg Maria geht, and the six-part Zacharias

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Eccard, Johannes Page 2 of 3

war ganz verstummt and Der Heilig Geist vom Himmel kam reflect the intrinsic
warmth of Helmbold’s verse, to which Eccard throughout his life returned
constantly.
The extent to which Eccard’s influence was felt long after his death is shown not
only by the many posthumous editions of his works but also in such a
composition as Johann Sebastiani’s oratorical St Matthew Passion(Königsberg,
1672), in which the interspersed chorales clearly derive from Eccard’s 1597
volume. In the 19th century Eccard’s music was regarded as the epitome of the
a cappella ideal, and in an age of Protestant revival, he was seen as the
counterpart to Palestrina who was esteemed by the Caecilians as the classical
figure of Catholic church music. This high regard is particularly evident in
Winterfeld’s standard work, in which a section of over 60 pages is devoted to
Eccard, the sole representative there of the 16th century. Through Winterfeld
Eccard’s music came to be prized by Brahms.
Of the works of secondary importance, mention should be made of the sacred
odes, which, in their essentially homophonic idiom, resemble the early 16th-
century genre of the secular scholastic ode. Eccard was also attracted by the
Italian villanella, as the title of the posthumously published Crepundia sacra …
ad imitationem italicarum villanescarum (162610) clearly indicates.
WORKS
20 newe christliche Gesäng Ludovici Helmboldi … artlich und lieblich zu singen, und
auff allerley Instrumenten der Music zu spielen, 4 vv (Mühlhausen, 1574)
Newe deutsche Lieder, 4, 5vv, gantz lieblich zu singen, und auff allerley
musicalischen Instrumenten zu gebrauchen (Mühlhausen, 1578)
Newe Lieder, 4, 5vv gantz lieblich zu singen und auff allerley Instrumenten zu
gebrauchen (Königsberg, 1589), ed. in PÄMw, xxi, Jg.xxv (1897)
20 odae sacrae Ludovici Helmboldi … I. Harmonicis numeris pro scansione
versuum, ornatae et compositae, 4vv (Mühlhausen, 1596)
Der erste Theil geistlicher Lieder auff den Choral oder gemeine Kirchen Melodey
durchauss gerichtet, 5vv (Königsberg, 1597), ed. G.W. Teschner (Leipzig, 1860),
ed. F. von Baussnern (Wolfenbüttel, 1928) [49 incl. in 16343]
Der ander Teil geistlicher Lieder auf den Choral, 5vv (Königsberg, 1597), ed. G.W.
Teschner (Leipzig, 1860), ed. F. von Baussnern (Wolfenbüttel, 1963)
works published jointly with Joachim a Burck
4 odae Ludovici Helmboldi, latinae et germanicae: … ; new Gesänglein, auff der
Schüler Fest an S. Gregorii Tag gerichtet 4vv (Mühlhausen, 157410)
Crepundia sacra M. Ludovici Helmboldi … Christliche Liedlein an S. Gregorii der
Schuler Festtag und sonsten zu singen, 4vv (Mühlhausen, 15785, repr. 15894,
2/15965, repr. 16086, 16268)
30 geistliche Lieder auff die Fest durchs Jhar, 4vv (Mühlhausen, 158536, repr.
159418, 160911, 1628), ed. H.J. Moser and K. Nehring-Pakendorf (Stuttgart, 1960)
40 deutsche christliche Liedlein M. Ludovici Helmboldi … artlich und lieblich zu
singen, und auf allerlei Instrument der Musica zu spielen, 4vv (Mühlhausen, 15998)
Odarum sacrarum M. Ludovici Helmboldi … Pars prima complectens: I. Odas
sacras … VI. Crepundia sacra … ad imitationem italicarum villanescarum
(Mühlhausen, 162610)
works published posthumously by J. Stobaeus
Geistliche Lieder auff gewöhnliche preussische Kirchen Melodeyen (Danzig, 16343)
[incl. 44 by Stobaeus]
Erster Theil der preussischen Fest-Lieder vom Advent an biss Ostern, 5–8vv

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Eccard, Johannes Page 3 of 3

(Elbing, 1642), ed. G.W. Teschner (Leipzig, 1858) [incl. 13 by Stobaeus], lost
Ander Theil der preussischen Festlieder von Ostern an biss Advent, 5–8vv
(Königsberg, 1644), ed. G.W. Teschner (Leipzig, 1858) [incl. 21 by Stobaeus], lost
86 occasional compositions listed in Böcker
Missa ‘Mon coeur se recommende à vous’, 5vv, dated 1579, D-As 17, Mbs
Mus.ms.57, ed. U. Herrmann (Stuttgart, 1964) (on Lassus’ chanson); Missa ‘Domine
ad adiuvandum me festina’, 5vv, lost; Missa ‘Veni Sancte Spiritus’, 5vv, lost; Kyrie
de Beata Maria Virgine, 4vv, dated 1587, As 6, Bsb; Terribilis est locus iste, 5vv,
dated 1578, As 6; Veni Sancte Spiritus, 5vv, Bsb; Vultum tuum deprecabuntur, 4vv,
As 6; other smaller sacred works, lost, formerly in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad)
Concordances in 158622, 16051, 16136, Bsb, Dlb, Lr, PL–LEtpn,WRu, S-Skma
BIBLIOGRAPHY
MGG1 (A. Adrio)
WinterfeldEK
S. Kümmerle: Encyklopädie der evangelischen Kirchenmusik, i (Gütersloh,
1888/R)
G. Reichmann: Johannes Eccards weltliche Werke (diss., U. of Heidelberg,
1923)
A. Adrio: ‘Johannes Eccards “Preussische Festlieder”’, Musik und Kirche, xxiii
(1953), 239–43
A.W. Grauer: The Vocal Style of Sixt Dietrich and Johann Eccard and their
Contributions to Lutheran Church Music (diss., U. of Rochester, 1960)
M. Ruhnke: Beitrage zu einer Geschichte der deutschen Hofmusikkollegien im
16. Jahrhundert (Berlin, 1963)
H. Heckmann: ‘Johann Eccards Gelegenheitskompositionen’, Festschrift Bruno
Stäblein, ed. M. Ruhnke (Kassel, 1967), 92–100
C. Böcker: Johannes Eccard: Leben und Werk (Munich, 1980)
A. Nowack: ‘Johann Eccards Ernennung zum Preussischen Palestrina durch
Obertribunalrat von Winterfeld’, Studien zur Musikgeschichte Berlins im
frühen 19. Jahrhundert, ed. C. Dahlhaus (Regensburg, 1980), 293–300
V. Hancock: ‘Brahms and Early Music: Evidence from his Library and Choral
Composition’, Brahms Studies: Washington, DC 1983, 29–48
V. Hancock: ‘Brahms’s Performances of Early Choral Music’, 19CM, viii (1984–
5), 125–41
G. Schuhmacher: ‘Zur Rezeption altklassischer Vokalpolyphonie in der
evangelischen Kirchenmusik des 19. Jahrhunderts’, Palestrina und die Idee
der klassischen Vokalpolyphonie im 19. Jahrhundert: Frankfurt 1987, 143–
8
WALTER BLANKENBURG/CLYTUS GOTTWALD

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