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     Nikolaus Hasse

Born: c1617 - Lubeck, Germany
Died: March 8?, 1672 - Rostock, Germany

Nikolaus [Nicolaus] Hasse was a composer and organist, eldest son of Peter Hasse (i). He studied with his father, but other information about his early life is unclear, for there is little agreement among what is to hand in secondary biographical sources. In 1642 he became organist of the Marienkirche, Rostock, and held the post tenuously until 1671, when he seems to have retired. He appears always to have been in financially embarrassing circumstances.

Nikolaus Hasse has long been known as a composer of chamber music and sacred songs, but his organ music remained for a long time undiscovered. His chamber music is all contained in Delitiae musicae (1656), comprising 21 suites (allemande-courante-saraband) and 14 other dance movements; they were originally intended for use by the students of Rostock University. Hasse was the principal contributor of melodies (and possibly the harmonizations as well) to Geistliche Seelen-Musik, a collection of religious verse edited by Heinrich Muller. His 50 melodies are much more florid than the others in the volume and are consequently more akin to Italian arias than to simple German hymns. Most of his other vocal works are occasional pieces. His four surviving organ works, all of which are to be found in the Pelplin organ tablatures, illustrate the development of the north German organ style. In Jesus Christus unser Heiland ('pro Organo pleno') the chorale is presented in the soprano in the first verse, the tenor in the second and the bass in the third. There is no ornamental elaboration of the cantus firmus, which is presented in strict counterpoint throughout. In Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr the chorale melody is treated much more imitatively; when it appears in the soprano it is often expanded by the use of decoration that in turn adds to the rhythmic movement of the setting. Ornamentation is used to an even greater extent in Jesus Christus unser Heiland (for two manuals and pedals) and in a manner similar to that adopted later by, for example, Dietrich Buxtehude and Georg Bohm. In its fantasia-like passages Hasse made particular use of echo devices and motivic imitation. Whereas ornamentation is here still confined to the soprano, in Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott, an impressive piece of some 292 bars, it extends to all the other voices except the pedals, which, with its periodic, undecorated statements of the various phrases of the cantus firmus, cogently supports the increased imitative counterpoint and motivic interplay in the upper voices and imparts unity to the work. Hasse here developed ideas and techniques that Franz Tunder and Johann Adam Reincken incorporated more intensively into their chorale fantasias.


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