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Jörgen Presten (Composer)

Born: birth information not available
Died: before November 28, 1553 - Copenhagen, Denmark

Jörgen [Jürgen, Georgio] Presten [Preston] was a composer, presumably of Scottish origin, active in Denmark. There can be little doubt that he is the ‘Georgius Preston Scotus’ who graduated as magister from the University of Copenhagen on May 14, 1545, and it may be assumed therefore that he studied under the first ‘lector musices’, Matz Hack (Glahn, 1986). He was leader of the kantori, the choir of the royal chapel of Christian III, in 1551, and two years later died of the plague According to an entry in Kancelliets brevbéger dated November 28, 1553, negotiations were started with his widow for the sale to the king of a set of ‘song-books’ owned by Presten; these apparently have not survived. His works are known from another, perhaps corresponding, set of manuscript partbooks prepared under the direction of the chief trumpeter, Jörgen Heyde (or Georg Hayd), for the instrumentalists of the royal chapel, the copying of which is presumed to have begun in 1541 (or possibly 1547). Two of the eight-part pieces, Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geyst and Ach Herr sehe uns gnaedig an, were sent by Heyde from Copenhagen to his former master Duke Albrecht of Prussia on May 30, 1545. Since the second of these is based on Christian III's motto ‘Ach Gott schaff deinen Willen’ , which appears both as an acrostic and as a refrain, it seems likely that Presten was by then employed at the Danish court. A motet Commoda res, inscribed in the manuscript ‘a Georgio P … anno XLIII redditum’ and therefore also attributed to Presten, is a five-part canon on Duke Albrecht's motto ‘Vertrau Gott allein’ ; this has been taken to suggest that Presten, like a number of other musicians such as Heyde and Adrianus Petit Coclico, had been in the service of Duke Albrecht before going to Denmark. However, the Kِnigsberg and Copenhagen courts were so closely related at this period that it cannot be taken as certain. On the other hand, the presence of five of Presten's pieces in the incomplete set of Swedish partbooks from about 1560, the only other known source of his music, can probably be attributed to the migration of musicians such as Heyde and Johan Paston (? Josquin Baston) who went, in 1556 and 1559 respectively, from service with Christian III to the court of Erik XIV.

Presten was the most productive of the foreign composers at the Danish court: 19 works attributed to him survive, comprising six Latin motets, ten German hymns and three instrumental fugae or canons. In the Copenhagen source all the vocal pieces are untexted except Peccavimus tibi , which has the text in the bass. Ten of the pieces are cantus-firmus settings, with the cantus firmus in short phrases, without ornamentation, in the tenor. Imitation is sometimes used at the beginnings of phrases but is not pursued, and there is rarely any overall sense of structure. In the eight-voice Christ ist erstanden the melody is sung by the two highest voices in canon while the other voices accompany them with free counterpoint. The three instrumental canons, with their lively rhythms and wider ranges, are musically more interesting.


All in DK-Kk Gl.Kgl.Saml.1872, 4; those marked † are also in S-Sk S229 and Skma Ty.Ky.45 Edition:

Music from the Time of Christian III: Selected Compositions from the Partbooks of the Chapel Royal (1541) , ed. H. Glahn, Dania sonans, iv–v (1978–86) [Gi–ii]
†Appropinquet, 7vv, Gii 252; Dies est leticiae, 7vv, Gii 303; Peccavimus tibi, 6vv, Gii 101; Veni Creator, 6vv, Gii 118; Surge illuminare, 6vv, Gii 106
Ach Herr sehe uns genedig an, 5vv, Gi 173; †Ach Herr sehe uns genedic an, 7vv, Gii 229; †Ach Herr sehe uns gnaedig an, 8vv, Gii 372; †Christ bet und wach, 8vv, Gii 377;
Christ ist erstanden, 6vv, Gii 201; Christ ist erstanden, 8vv, Gii 381; Der gottlose Hauff, 6vv, Gii 204; †Erhalt uns Herr, 7vv, Gii 312; Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geyst, 8vv, Gii 385; Vater unser im Himmelreich, 6vv, Gii 208
2 fugae, a 5, Gi 208, 212; 1 a 6, Gii 240
Commoda res/Vertrau Gott allein, motet, 5vv, Gi 131; attrib. ‘Georgio P.’, ? by Presten

Source: Grove Music Online © Oxford University Press 2006 (by Margaret Munck, with John Bergsagel)
Contributed by
Thomas Braatz (February 2006)

Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Christ ist erstanden, 2 motets on for 6 and for 8 voices

Christ ist erstanden

Vater unser im Himmelreich, 6vv setting

Vater unser im Himmelreich

Links to other Sites



V.C. Ravn: Koncerter og musikalske selskaber i aeldre tid (Copenhagen, 1886), 7
M. van Crevel: Adrianus Petit Coclico: Leben und Beziehungen eines nach Deutschland emigrierten Josquinschlers (The Hague, 1940)
H. Glahn: ‘En ny kilde til belysning af det preussiske hofkapels repertoire p
ه Hertug Albrechts tid’, STMf, xliii (1961), 145–61
H. Glahn: ‘“Det Kongelige Kantoris Stemmeb
ّger”: Trompeterkorpsets Stemmebّger’, DAM, viii (1977), 137–9
H. Glahn: ‘“Musik fra Christian IIIs tid”: nogle supplerende oplysninger til udgivelsen i Dania Sonans IV og V’, DAM, xvii (1986), 65–7
K. Christensen: ‘The Danish Royal Chapel's Part-books from 1541 and Ludwig Mair: once again’, DAM
, xx (1992), 19–21
H. Glahn: ‘Mutatis mutandis: a Necessary Comment on Karsten Christensen's Communication’, DAM
, xx (1992), 22–4

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