(b Lichtenfels, before 1500; d Oelsnitz, 26 Feb 1552). German music theorist and composer. Under the name of Hainrich Lichtenfels he may have been a singer from 1515 to 1524 in Copenhagen at the court of King Christian II of Denmark (see Peters-Marquardt). In 1538 he was a teacher at the Benedictine monastery of St George in Naumburg. He entered the University of Wittenberg in 1542 and three years later received the Master of Arts degree. Meanwhile he became rector of the cathedral school of Naumburg in 1544, but his advocacy of Lutheran doctrines brought him into conflict with Catholic authorities and in about 1549 he left the city. He lectured on music in 1551 at Wittenberg, and at the time of his death he was rector at Oelsnitz.
Faber’s musical renown rests on three theoretical works. His Compendiolum musicae (Brunswick, 1548), a textbook for beginners in music, was the most popular music treatise in Lutheran schools during the 16th and 17th centuries. It had more than 30 editions, the last appearing in 1665; several German versions of the treatise were printed, and such well-known composers as Melchior Vulpius and Adam Gumpeltzhaimer edited it. The work is a model of clear and concise musical definitions and an important source of bicinia, because in order to develop the musical skill of his students Faber included some of his own two-voice compositions. For additional practice he recommended the bicinia of others, such as those in George Rhau’s Bicinia (Wittenberg, 1545). Another work, Ad musicam practicam introductio (Nuremberg, 1550), follows a typical format of the time in being divided into two parts, the first on the elements of music and the second on mensural notation. Its conservative nature is shown by its frequent reliance on Gaffurius’s Practica musicae (Milan, 1496). The work contains many polyphonic examples, some by Faber and some by Josquin and others of his generation. (Other compositions by Faber are found in D-Dl 1/D/4, Rp A.R.940/41 and H-Bn Bártfa 23.)
In addition to treating practical music Faber wrote a Musica poetica (1548, in D-Z). Besides its discussion of the more humanistic aspects of music it is valuable for a comparison of sortisatio (improvised singing) and composed music. As a conservative Lutheran schoolteacher Faber strongly supported composed music, saying that improvised singing in Germany was practised only by labourers and mechanics. In his examples of sortisatio the cantus-firmus tenor and the counterpoint sometimes formed parallel 5ths and unisons, a procedure unacceptable in music written according to his rules of composition. Other German school musicians, such as Gallus Dressler (Praecepta musica poeticae, 1563), followed Faber’s lead in rejecting improvised song. Adrianus Petit Coclico also confirmed Faber’s contention, saying that in Germany at the mention of improvised song ‘they rail at you with greater aversion than at a dog’ (Compendium musices, Nuremberg, 1552, f.I/iv). But in contradistinction to Faber, Coclico advocated improvised song as a beautiful art in which other nations excelled.
MGG1 (H. Albrecht)
E.T.Ferand: ‘“Sodaine and Unexpected” Music in the Renaissance’, MQ, xxxvii (1951), 10–27
F.Peters-Marquardt: ‘War Hainrich Lychenfels der spätere Musiktheoriker Heinrich Faber?’, Hans Albrecht in memoriam, ed. W. Brenneck and H. Haase (Kassel, 1962), 75–80
B.A.Bellingham: The Bicinium in the Lutheran Latin Schools during the Reformation Period (diss., U. of Toronto, 1971)
CLEMENT A. MILLER
Faber, Johann Christoph
(fl early 18th century). German composer. An entry for a violinist of the same name in the list of orchestral personnel at the Oettingen court in 1689 (see Nettl) may be a clue to the identity of a composer otherwise known only through five manuscripts in the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. In one of the manuscripts homage is paid to Duke Ludwig Rudolph of Brunswick-Lüneburg, ruler of the duchy of Blankenburg from 1714 to 1731, who then succeeded his brother at the Wolfenbüttel court, where he remained until his death in 1735. Faber may have been part of the musical establishment at these courts.
The curious content of four of the five manuscripts attributed to Faber engenders interest in the composer, even though the music itself is of such poor quality as to raise the question that he may have been an amateur. Except for Parties sur les fleut dous à 3, each manuscript contains a musical puzzle, a cryptographic message and its solution provided by the composer. Faber inserted into the two Compositio obligata and the Invention a text to be read by assigning a letter of the alphabet to each note of the staff. A crotchet on the first staff line becomes a, on the first space b, to m on the space above the first leger line. The alphabet is completed with quavers, on the bottom line as n, to z on the space above the first leger line (a 24-letter alphabet without i or v). Three special pitches and rhythmic values represent the umlauts ä, ö and ü. By this means, in the first Compositio obligata, the notes of the viola part in the second (Vivace) movement spell out 18 different foods, and their initial letters also add the advice, Geld her vors Essn (‘pay money before eating’). The second Compositio obligatauses much the same method, although the note values in the alphabetical scale become minims and crotchets, and the viola part of the opening movement gives an encomium to Duke Ludwig Rudolph: Ludwig der angenehmst, das Deutschlandes Zier … ; a second ‘mystery’ appears in the oboe part, where Faber assigned note values to various monetary denominations, such as groschen, heller, batzen, dukaten etc. from which one can apparently determine the composer’s payment for the work. In the fifth manuscript, a concerto for double string ensembles, which may be performed separately or simultaneously, the secret message is a two-line verse again hidden in the viola part. Finally, in the Neuerfundene obligata Composition, written for Ludwig Rudolph’s name day, the clarino part for each of the nine movements contains exactly the number of notes representing each letter in Ludovicus. The letters are represented by assigning each in the Latin alphabet with a number equivalent (see below). This form of gematria was not new in literature, where cryptographic meanings have often been derived from equating letters of the alphabet with numbers. In the Baroque period, particularly, both poets and theologians used gematria for symbolic interpretations. Although there have been many demonstrations of gematriain the music of Bach, for example, such as his delight in the number 14 representing the name Bach (see Smend), substantiation of the practice by composers has been rare. Faber’s manuscripts, despite their musical inferiority, are therefore valuable.
all MSS in D-W
Compositio obligata, in sich haltent ein secret verborgener Sprach, davon Materia handelt von einem Tractament von 18 Speisen, aus Worten die ersten Buchstabend das ander Secret, 2 vn, va, vc, hpd
Compositio obligata in zweyen absonderlichen Mysteria, als der verborgene musicalische Secretarius und musicalischer Rechenmeister à 6, ob, 2 vn, va, vc, hpd
Parties sur les fleut dous à 3
Neu-erfundene obligate Composition von diesem numeralisch-lateinischen Alphabet, a 1, b 2, c 3… k 10, l 20 … t 100, u 200 … Daraus gezogene L.U.D.O.V.I.C.U.S., tpt, 2 vn, va, vc, hpd
Invention, wie zwey Concerten so wohl jede à parte als auch hernach zugleich auf zweyen ein wenig von einander gesezten Tafeln können aufgeführt werden, double str orch
J.Vogel: Die Handschriften nebst den älteren Druckwerken der herzoglichen Bibliothek zu Wolfenbüttel (Wolfenbüttel, 1890)
P.Nettl: ‘Beitrag zur Geschichte des deutschen Singballetts sowie zur Öttinger und Nördlinger Musikgeschichte’, ZMw, vi (1923–4), 608–20
F.Smend: Johann Sebastian Bachs Kirchen-Kantaten (Berlin, 1947–9, 2/1950)
F.Smend: Johann Sebastian Bach bei seinem Namen gerufen (Kassel, 1950)