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Faber, Nicolaus (i) [Schmidt, Nickel]

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Faber, Nicolaus (i) [Schmidt, Nickel]

(b c1490; d Leipzig, 1554). German printer. Records show that he became a citizen of Leipzig on 5 October 1510. His printing and publishing business, begun in 1521, included a book bindery and a retail bookshop. Since no publications bearing his name are dated later than 1545, he probably devoted the last years of his life to the sale rather than to the printing of books. After his death the firm was taken over by his son, Lorenz, but apparently with little success.

One of the first Protestants in Leipzig, Faber maintained close business ties with Georg Rhau in Wittenberg. His book production was largely confined to school texts and grammars and theological writings, beginning with the works by Reformation authors and later turning to those of the Catholic Church. In music he is known for a single publication, Melodiae Prudentianae et in Virgilium magna ex parte nuper natae (1533), which contains four-voice metric settings by Lucas Hordisch and Sebastian Forster of hymns by the 4th-century Latin poet Aurelius Clemens Prudentius. Simple note-against-note settings of antique metres, often of Horatian odes (see Ode (ii)), were fairly frequent in Germany in the early 16th century and showed the influence of the contemporary humanistic movement. The quantitative rhythms of the hymns in this collection are notated in semibreves and minims with no general time signature; one note is allotted to each syllable of the text. The metric scheme is indicated at the beginning of each setting. The music is printed in choirbook format, using the old-fashioned system of block printing. Faber published the complete texts in a separate volume, Aurelii Prudentii … liber kathemerinon (1533), since only the first strophe was given with the melodies.


MGG1 (H.C. Wolff)

A. Kirchhoff: Die Entwicklung des Buchhandels in Leipzig bis in das zweite Jahrzehnt nach Einführung der Reformation (Leipzig, 1885)

R. von Liliencron: ‘Die horazischen Metren in deutschen Kompositionen des 16. Jahrhunderts’,VMw, iii (1887), 26–91

H. Riemann: ‘Notenschrift und Notendruck’, Festschrift zur 50jährigen Jubelfeier des Bestehens der Firma C.G. Röder Leipzig (Leipzig, 1896), appx, 1–88

H. Springer: ‘Die musikalischen Blockdrucke des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts’, IMusSCR I: Basle 1906, 37–47

O. Clemen: ‘Melodiae Prudentianae, Leipzig 1533’, ZMw, x (1927–8), 106–27

H. Jentsch: Nickel Schmidt (Nicolaus Faber) und Michael Blum, zwei Leipziger Drucker der Reformationszeit (Wolfenbüttel, 1928)

J. Benzing: Die Buchdrucker des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts im deutschen Sprachgebiet (Wiesbaden, 1963, 2/1982), 262


Faber [Wolzanus], Nicolaus (ii)

(b Bolzano; fl Bavaria, 1516). Tyrolean musician. He was a Kantor and priest at the court of Duke Ernst (youngest brother of Wilhelm IV of Bavaria) and may be identical with a Nikolaus Georg Fabri who served as court chaplain to Ludwig IV. Faber has frequently been cited as the author of the treatise Musicae rudimenta (Augsburg, 1516), but all evidence points to Johannes Aventinus as its true author. Faber is mentioned on the title-page, but only in the capacity of a musical authority recommending the treatise. The first ascription to Faber in a primarily musical work is in J.G. Walther’s Musicalisches Lexicon (1732). Many subsequent reference works (e.g. FétisB and Forkel’s Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik) have carried double entries, as though both Aventinus and Faber had written separate treatises, or have ascribed authorship to Faber and considered Aventinus either the editor or publisher (e.g. MGG1, RISM).


K.W. Niemöller: ‘Ist Nicolaus Faber oder Johannes Aventin der Verfasser der “Musicae rudimenta” (Augsburg, 1516)?’, Mf, xiv (1961), 184–5

T.H. Keahey, ed.: Johann Turmair –Johannes Aventinus: Musicae rudimenta, Augsburg, 1516 (Brooklyn, NY, 1971)



See Faburden, Fauxbourdon and Falsobordone.

Faber Stapulensis, Jacobus [Lefèvre d’Etaples, Jacques]

(b Etaples, c1460; d Nérac, 1536). French theologian, scholar and music theorist. He matriculated at the University of Paris, possibly in 1474 or 1475, and received the BA in 1479 and the MA probably in 1480. He taught in the Faculty of Arts at the Collège du Cardinal Lemoine, University of Paris, until 1508 and was afterwards active as a scholar at the abbey of St Germain-des-Prés outside Paris. There he prepared a French translation of the New Testament and Psalms, which provoked the Parlement of Paris to summon him on suspicion of heresy. Clearly in sympathy with the Reformation, he fled to Strasbourg in 1525, but in 1526 he was recalled by François I, who appointed him librarian of the royal collection and made him tutor to his children. Faber completed his translation under royal protection; it was published in 1530. He spent his last years at the court of Queen Marguerite of Navarre.

During his lifetime Faber’s writings and editions were printed more than 350 times. Apart from his theological interests, which included medieval mystical writers such as Hildegard of Bingen and Raymundus Jordanus, his chief intellectual efforts were directed towards Aristotelian philosophy (especially logic and moral philosophy) and mathematics, which he promoted in a programme of educational reform. In this context he wrote his Musica libris demonstrata quattuor (also internally titled Elementa musicalia or Elementa musices), which was printed together with a treatise on arithmetic, an epitome of Boethius’s arithmetical treatise and a Rithmimachie ludus in Paris in 1496. In this treatise, Faber propounded the traditional tonal system and arithmetical reckoning of the proportions of intervals. However, on the basis of Euclid’s Elements, he also offered a new geometrical method by which intervals represented by superparticular ratios (e.g. the tone, 9:8) might be divided into two equal parts. In so doing he opened up a new approach to questions of tuning and temperament; his treatment was quoted up until the 18th century.


E.F. Rice, Jr, ed.: The Prefatory Epistles of Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples and Related Texts (New York, 1972)

C.V. Palisca: Humanism in Italian Renaissance Musical Thought (New Haven, 1985)

W. Seidel: ‘Französische Musiktheorie im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert’, Entstehung nationaler Traditionen: Frankreich, England, Geschichte der Musiktheorie, ed. F. Zaminer, ix (Darmstadt, 1986), 1–140

M. Lindley: ‘Stimmung und Temperatur’, Hören, Messen und Rechnen in der frühen Neuzeit, Geschichte der Musiktheorie, ed. F. Zaminer, vi (Darmstadt, 1987), 109–331

M. Fend: ‘Zarlinos Versuch einer Axiomatisierung der Musiktheorie in den Dimostrationi harmoniche (1571)’, Musiktheorie, iv (1989), 113–26

P. Vendrix: ‘On the Theoretical Expression of Music in France during the Renaissance’, EMH, xiii (1994), 249–73

M. Gervink: Die musikalisch-poetischen Renaissancebestrebungen des 16. Jahrhunderts in Frankreich und ihre Bedeutung für die Entwicklung einer nationalen französischen Musiktradition (Frankfurt, 1996)


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