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Johannes Heugel (Composer)

Born: before 1500 (or between 1500 and 1510) - Deggendorf (Danube), Bavaria (or unknown)
Died: beginning (before 31) of January, 1585 - Kassel, Germany

Johannes Heugel [Heugell, Heigel, Heygel, Hougell, Hegel] was a German composer. His identity is unclear: according to Cramer, he could be ‘Joannes Heugelius Wetteranus Hessus’, born between 1510 and 1515 in Wetter, near Marburg, while Gottwald thinks he was born in the Strasbourg-Basle area. Nagel identifies him with ‘Johannes Heygel ex Teckendor’ (Deggendorf an der Donau), a student at Leipzig in winter 1513, but Pietzsch's research has largely disproved Nagel's theory. Heugel may have received his musical education in south-west Germany: he composed epitaphs for Thomas Sporer in Strasbourg in 1534 and Balthasar Arthopius, who worked in Weissenburg and Speyer, in 1535. Stylistic similarities between settings of Christ ist erstanden by Matthias Greiter and Heugel also suggest that Heugel, like Greiter, may have been a pupil of Sporer. Heugel had another link with the Palatinate, for from 1535 onwards he dedicated several compositions to the Palatine princes.

The earliest reference to Heugel as a musician is in a Kassel account book dating from the end of 1536, in which he is described as a ‘companist’ and, as in the accounts for the following year, listed among the trumpeters; he received the highest salary and seems to have been held in great esteem. His earliest dated compositions were written in 1534. However, he was commissioned by Philipp, Landgrave of Hesse, to set a satirical poem and an elegy on Zwingli, known to have been written in 1531 and 1532 respectively, and he would hardly have composed them later than 1533; he may therefore already have begun his service at the Hesse court at that time. As court composer it was Heugel's duty to build up a repertory for the court musicians by composing new works and copying the works of others 12 of his manuscripts (mostly incomplete) survive in the Kassel Landesbibliothek. In 1547 Heugel's name headed the list of singers; he probably succeeded Georg Kern, Philipp's ‘Gesangsmayster’ , although he did not adopt that title. He probably had the function of a Kapellmeister, taking responsibility for all the music at the court. During the whole of his time there he never had more than 13 singers (seven men and four to six boys) or 15 instrumentalists. A builder's clerk of the same name is mentioned inthe documents for 1553 and 1578 but it seems unlikely that this could be the composer. When Landgrave Philipp died on March 31, 1567, it was Heugel who composed a lament. Philipp's successor Wilhelm IV retained Heugel in his service, but the latter appears gradually to have done less composing (his last datable composition is from 17 March 1577) and generally to have spent the last years of his life more quietly. In 1585 his salary was paid up to 30 April to his widow. On 1 May his successor Bartholom?us Clausius was appointed Kapellmeister.

In the 50 years or so that he worked at Kassel, Heugel produced a large and varied corpus of compositions, of which about 500 survive, though some are incomplete. They include mote ts for the most important festivals in the church year and for all the usual services, Te Deum and Magnificat settings, Latin psalms, a complete German psalter, German song motets and hymns, Latin occasional motets with political or personal texts for court, university and home use, and also German songs and instrumental pieces. Heugel composed in nearly all the forms then current, the only exceptions being the Mass (which was no longer celebrated at the Kassel court), dance music and keyboard music. He used a wide range of techniques and forces: his surviving works include motet-like compositions in seven to 12 parts for vocal or instrumental ensembles (or a combination of both), predominantly polyphonic four- to six-voice motets and songs, and two- or three-voice settings of humanist odes and other pieces. Though trained in the German tradition, Heugel increasingly adopted the Flemish style of the post-Josquin generation.

Heugel's earlier compositions include a group of important polyphonic works for voices and instruments from the 1530s and 1540s; they include canons and ‘riddle’ canons (for which detailed instructions are provided) and although the music draws heavily on the Flemish tradition of polyphony, it remains, particularly for the instruments, individual in style. The eight-voice Consolamini, popule meus (1539) is probably the earliest German piece for double choir. The seven-part Lerman is an unusual instrumental piece specifically for wind instruments. In contrast, the four-voice psalm motets, a Credo and the two Zwingli motets show the influence of a later, simpler Flemish style. The late works reveal a distinct preference for homophony; the Querela for Landgrave Philipp ranks with the best funeral music of its time. Another striking late work is the ten-part Colloquium hospitis et nymphae (1566), a rich, homophonic composition with written-out echo effects. Among the numerous motets, the setting of Burkhard Waldis's translation of the psalter deserves mention; Heugel used a variety of techniques in setting the psalms, though the melody is invariably in the tenor. The settings are motet-like and even sometimes instrumental in conception, and are far removed from the later homophonic chorale.


22 Magnificat settings, 4vv, Magnificat, 5vv, D-Kl 4° Mus.9 (according to Kirsch at least 7 are not by Heugel)
29 motets, 7–12vv, Kl 4° Mus.38 (dated July 1535–Jan 1566; A II, T II lost)
16 motets, 5–6vv, Kl 4° Mus.91 (dated April 1544–Dec 1571; Sup II lost)
5 motets, 8vv, Kl 4° Mus.143 (dated 1566; 1 doubtful; only A ii and T extant)
88 motets, 5–9vv, Kl 4° Mus.118 (dated Feb 1534–March 1577; Sup lost)
11 motets, 4–5vv, Kl 4° Mus.142 (dated Dec 1540–May 1550; B lost)
22 motets, 4–5vv, Kl 8° Mus.4 (dated Oct 1534–Jan 1536; A lost)
16 psalm motets, 4–5vv, Kl 4° Mus.24 (dated Sept 1537–April 1550; Vagans lost)
156 German psalms, 4–5vv, Kl 4° Mus.94 (dated Feb 1562–1565, but probably incl. compositions from 1555–70)
61 sacred German songs, ?4–5vv, Kl 8° Mus.53, 1 (dated June 1534; only Sup extant)
2 sacred and 4 secular German songs, B-Bc XY 15.030 (MS score August 1836, ed. M. Hauptmann, probably from lost MS formerly in D-Kl)
2 German songs, Kl (single sheet of lost MS; only T I and T II extant)
55 various pieces, 4vv, Kl 4° Mus.43 (dated March 1534–Dec 1570)
6 various pieces, ?3vv, Kl 8° Mus.53, 2 (dated Feb 1534–Oct 1546; Sup only)
3 lost works, listed in HEu Pal.Germ.318


Source: Grove Music Online © Oxford University Press 2006 (by Wilfried Brennecke)
Contributed by
Thomas Braatz (February 2006)

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Five settings of Christ ist erstanden for 6 to 8 voices

Christ ist erstanden


Links to other Sites

Johann Heugel (Wikipedia) [German]



MGG1 (W. Brennecke)
E. Zulauf
: ‘Beitr?ge zur Geschichte der Landgr?flich-Hessischen Hofkapelle zu Cassel bis auf die Zeit Moritz des Gelehrten’, Zeitschrift des Vereins für hessische Geschichte und Landeskunde, new ser., xxvi (1903), 1–144
W. Nagel: ‘Der Hofkomponist Johann Heugel’, Philipp der Grossmütige: Beitrag zur Geschichte seines Lebens und seiner Zeit, ed. J.R. Dietrich and B. Müller (Marburg, 1904), 353–90

W. Nagel: ‘Johann Heugel (ca. 1500–1584/85)’, SIMG, vii (1905–6), 80–110
J. Knierim:
Die Heugel-Handschriften der Kasseler Landesbibliothek (diss., U. of Berlin, 1943)
M. Jenny: ‘Spott und Trauermusik auf Zwingli am Kasseler Hof’, Zwingliana: Mitteilungen zur Geschichte Zwinglis, der Reformation und des Protestantismus in der Schweiz, x (), 216–27

G. Pietzsch:
Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte der Musik am kurpf?lzischen Hof zu Heidelberg bis 1622 (Mainz, 1963)
W. Kirsch:
Die Quellen der mehrstimmigen Magnificat- und Te Deum-Vertonungen bis zur Mitte des 16. Jahrhunderts (Tutzing, 1966)
M. Teramoto:
Motettenzyklus über Busspsalmen vor Orlando di Lasso: eine Betrachtung über die Kasseler Handschrift 4° Ms. 24’, Ongaku-gaku, xxvi (1980), 91– 108 [with Eng. summary]
C. Gottwald:
Johannes Heugel als Musiksammler: Anmerkung zur Kasseler Handschrift 4° Ms. 24’, Litterae medii aevi: Festschrift für Johanne Autenrieth zu ihrem 65. Geburtstag , ed. M. Borgolte and H. Spilling (Sigmaringen, 1988), 315–28
S. Cramer:
Johannes Heugel (ca. 1510–1584/85): Studien zu seinen lateinischen Motetten (Kassel, 1994)

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