Philadelphia’s internationally renowned period instrument ensemble, Piffaro the Renaissance Band, presents Music from Austrian Court & Countryside with guest organist Matthew Glandorf, March 11-13 in Philadelphia and Wilmington, and March 19-29 online. Concert and ticket information are available at www.piffaro.org or by calling 215-235-8469.
Austrian cities and towns resounded with music in the 16th century. “I’ve played a lot of German programs that had a smattering of music by Austrian composers,” notes Artistic Director Designate Priscilla Herreid, who curated March’s concert program. “I was always captivated and intrigued, and I wondered what a deep dive might look like. Many of the composers are off the beaten path, even for a group like Piffaro, but their music is really good.”
Herreid’s program is a survey of musical life in Austria, arranged for the recorders, shawms, dulcians, sackbuts, and other Renaissance wind instruments Piffaro plays. It includes 4-part Gesellschaftslieder extolling the virtues of earthly and spiritual love and sacred selections from the Stomius Partkbooks, only recently identified as coming from Salzburg; Italian dances that enjoyed broad popularity throughout Austria; and important works composed by Emperor Ferdinand II’s vice-kapellmeister, Alexander Utendal, and his successor Jakob Regnart, both of whom loved working in Innsbruck and rebuffed attempts to lure them away to other courts.
A portrayal of musical life in Austria during this period would be incomplete without acknowledging Paul Hofhaimer, “First Organist to the Emperor.” Hofhaimer, who followed the Emperor’s court from Augsburg to Vienna to Innsbruck and even into military campaigns, was celebrated for his skill at improvisation. “One would wonder,” wrote a contemporary, “not so much how the ocean gets all the water with which to feed the rivers, but how this man gets the ideas for all his melodies.” Philadelphia organist Matthew Glandorf, a noted improvisor and recitalist on the instrument, will join the program to improvise in Hofhaimer’s style on the new Emery Brothers pipe organ at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, one of the largest in the city; the Mander organ at the Presbyterian Church at Chestnut Hill, and the Brombaugh Opus 32 at Christ Church Christiana Hundred.
Image: Organist Paul Hofhaimer as depicted in the 16th c. Triumphzug of Maximillian I woodcuts