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Melchior Franck (c. 1579-1639)

Melchior Franck was the son of a painter and possibly the younger brother of the composer Johannes Franck, who published a set of Cantiones sacrarum melodiarum in Augsburg in 1600. We know little of Melchior’s early life. We find him in the choir of the church of St. Anna in Augsburg about 1600. The next year he went to Nuremberg and in 1602 he obtained the post of Kapellmeister to Duke Johann Casimir of Sa xe-Coburg at Coburg, where he remained to his death, having married in 1607.

Franck was an excellent contrapuntist, composed sacred and secular vocal music and exerted considerable influence on his contemporaries. He was especially concerned with music education and published many collections of music intended for pedagogical purposes. When he was in Nuremberg he came into contact with Hassler who greatly influenced him. Hans Leo Hassler himself had inherited from his teacher Lassus’s Netherlandish style of motet composition and had absorbed the Venetian antiphonal style from both Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli while studying with them in Venice. He passed these on to Franck, who also took from Hassler and his teacher the impetus for setting psalms to music. All in all, Franck’s output was vast and comprehensive (over 1400 pieces), including sacred and secular, vo cal and instrumental music. Franck’s music is consistently expressive, though conservative and often simple. It is possible that this simplicity is what guaranteed the popularity of his works. Even though the music is in an older style, it is charming and beautiful. Franck is perhaps the most important (and prolific) composer of his generation after Schütz, Schein, and Scheidt.

Vocal Works Performed by SFBC

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