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Antonio Scandello (Composer, Hymn-Writer)

Born: 1517 - Brescia (or Bergamo), Italy
Died: January 18, 1580 - Dresden, Germany

Antonio [Anthonius, Antonius] Scandello [Scandellus, Scandellius, Scandelli] was an Italian composer, who lived and workd in Germany.


In the 1540's Antonio Scandello worked at Bergamo and Trent, but in 1549 was called to the Electoral court of Saxony at Dresden. In 1553 he was already resident in Dresden and a member of the Hofkapelle, but he often returned to visit his native place; in 1567, on account of the plague, he and his family left Dresden and spent four months in Brescia. In 1555 six Italians are mentioned as being members of the Dresden Hofkapelle: welsche Instrumentisten in der Musica, among them Anthonius Scandellus, his brother Angelus Scandellus and Benedict Tola, the painter, whose daughter Agnes became Scandello's second wife in June 1568. The Italians, receiving higher pay than the Germans, were even then arousing feelings of jealousy, which later resulted in open quarrels and opposition. In 1555, Scandello, with 250 fl. 16 grs. 9 pf. a year, was receiving a larger salary than the Kapellmeister, Matthias Le Maistre, who had only 204 fl. 7 grs. 9 pf. It is also curious to note that the Italian players were paid on a higher scale than singers from the Netherlands, the highest salary to the latter only amounting to 120 fl. It is true that the player was expected to show facility on a large variety of instruments; Scandello himself was a noted zinke (or cornett) player, besides being already a composer of some repute.

In 1566 Scandello became assistant Kapellmeister to the ageing Le Maistre, and on his retirement was appointed Kapellmeister, February 12, 1568, when his salary altogether amounted to 400 fl. a year, a large sum for those days. A letter addressed to the Kapellmeister on January 13, 1579, gives leave to his brother Angelo to go to Venice for three months, to collect some debts. He retained his post until his death. One of his sons, August, was also a member of the Dresden Hofkapelle.


Antonio Scandello's music combines elements of the Italian Renaissance with German musical traditions. Three motets for six voices, dated 1551, in a manuscript in the Dresden Library, are probably Scandello's earliest compositions. Next comes the Mass for six voices, Missa super Epithaphum Mauritii, in commemoration of the death of the Elector Moritz of Saxony, July 9, 1553, at the battle of Sievershausen. The mass is based on a motet on the Latin epitaph of Maurice by the headmaster Georg Fabricius of the Misnian princely school. It was conducted at the burial of the Elector in the Freiberg minster in 1562. In the Inventarium of the Kapelle music drawn up by the Dresden Kapellmeister, Johann Walther, October 16, 1554, for the use of his successor, Matthias Le Maistre, this Mass is mentioned as being in six little printed partbooks: VI. kleine gedruckt Partes in pergament. darinnen das Epitaphium Electoris Maurlcii Antonii Scandelli. At the present time (early 1950's) only a manuscript copy of it is known, made in Torgau, in 1562, by one Moritz Bauerbach of Pirna, tenorist in the Dresden Kapelle; very possibly it was owing to the suggestion of Johann Walther, then living in retirement at Torgau, that Bauerbach wrote it. The manuscript (A large part of the Mass was scored by Otto Kade and published in Ambros's Gestlische der Musik, 1889. vol. V.) was formerly in the Pirna Stadt-Bibliothek, but is now in the Dresden Staat-Bibliothek.

Especial mention must be made of the Passion music and the story of the Resurrection, which were in all probability composed before 1561. Scandello some years later refers to them in a document dated July 15, 1573; they were therefore in existence some fifty years before Heinrich Schütz's great works were published, his Auferstehung in 1623, and his Passionen nach Johannis not until 1664. A manuscript copy of Scandello's work, dated 1593, formerly at Grimma, now in the Dresden Library, is entitled Passio et Resurrectio Domini nostri Jesu Christi ab Antonio Scandello compositae; the scribe was Johann Gengenbach of Colditz. It only gives the tenor part of the choruses; the music is otherwise complete. The manuscript of the tenor part-book now in the same library, but formerly at Lobau, contains the Johannispassion and the Auferstehungsgeschichte, without mention of the composer's name. Another Lobau manuscript contains a complete copy of the Auferstehung; this part of the composition was the first to appear in print. It was published by Samuel Besler at Breslau, 1612. Besler alludes in the preface to the composer, Antonius Scandellus, der berhümbte musicus. It was again published in an adapted form by O. S. Harnisch in 1621. In the same year Besler published the Passion music. It is from this edition that the chorus parts, missing in the manuscripts, have been filled in. The Passion opens with the words in four-part writing, Das Leyden unsers Herm Jesu Christi wie das der heilige Evangelist Johannes beschreibet. Throughout, each individual character is represented by a duo, trio or quartet, with the exception of the Evangelist, who is given the traditional recitative. The words of Christ are invariably set as a solo quartet, those of Peter as a trio, and so on. The concluding chorus and the short, quick outcries of the people are all in five-part writing; possibly the opening chorus should be the same. There is no accompaniment. Scandello was the first composer to set the story of the Resurrection to music, and he followed very closely the lines laid down in his Passion music. Scandello's Osterliche Freude (1568) is an important prototype for Heinrich Schütz's Easter Historia.

Antonio Scandello's two books of Canzone Napoletane, which were the first music to exclusively Italian texts to appear in Germany. As to his other compositions, it may be noted that although his Italian madrigals, published 1566 and 1577, are purely vocal works with no accompaniment, the German Lieder, both sacred and secular, published 1568, 1570 and 1575, may be sung to an instrumental accompaniment. Examples are given in Ambros's Geschichre der Musik. v., Bonzomo, madonna, for four voices; Der Wein der schmeckt mir for six voices; and Nu komm der Heiden Heiland for five voices.


Source: Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1952 Edition; Author: Miss C. Stainer); HOASM Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (February 2006)

Texts of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works

BWV 374

Chorale Melodies used in Bach’s Vocal Works





Use of Chorale Melodies in his works


Chorale Melody


Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, Setting for 6 voices

Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ


Nu komm der Heiden Heiland, 5-pt. Setting

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland

Links to other Sites

HOASM: Antonio Scandello

Antonio Scandello (Wikipedia)



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