Jacobus Handl

Jacobus Handl

born in 1550 in Carniola, Slovenia

died on 18/7/1591 in Praha, Czechia

Jacobus Gallus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jacobus Gallus Carniolus (a.k.a. Jacob(us) Handl, Jacob(us) Händl, Jacob(us) Gallus; ) (3 July 1550 – 18 July 1591) was a late-Renaissance composer of Slovene [1] ethnicity. Born in Carniola, which at the time was one of the Habsburg lands in the Holy Roman Empire, he lived and worked in Moravia and Bohemia during the last decade of his life.


Gallus may have been named Jakob Petelin at birth.[2] Petelin means "rooster"; handl and gallus mean the same in German and Latin, respectively.[3] He was probably born in Reifnitz, (now Ribnica, Slovenia), although Slovene folk tradition also claims his birthplace to be at entvika Gora in the Slovenian Littoral.[4] He used the Latin form of his name, to which he often added the adjective Carniolus, thus giving credit to his homeland Carniola.

Gallus most likely was educated at the Cistercian monastery at Stina (German: Sittich) in Carniola. He left Carniola sometime between 1564 and 1566, traveling first to Austria, and later to Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. For some time he lived at the Benedictine Melk Abbey in Lower Austria. He was a member of the Viennese court chapel in 1574, and was choirmaster (Kapellmeister) to the bishop of Olmütz, Moravia between 1579 (or 1580) and 1585. From 1585 to his death he worked in Prague as organist to the Church of St. John on the Balustrade (Cz. Sv. Jan na Zábradlí). Gallus died on 18 July 1591 in Prague.[1]


Gallus represented the Counter-Reformation in Bohemia, mixing the polyphonic style of the High Renaissance Franco-Flemish School with the style of the Venetian School. His output was both sacred and secular, and hugely prolific: over 500 works have been attributed to him. Some are for large forces, with multiple choirs of up to 24 independent parts.[1][5]

His most notable work is the six part Opus musicum, 1587, a collection of 374 motets that would eventually cover the liturgical needs of the entire ecclesiastical year. The motets were printed in Prague printing house Jií Nigrin, which also published 16 of his 20 extant masses. The motet O magnum mysterium comes from the first volume (printed in 1586) which covers the period from the first Sunday of Advent to the Septuagesima. This motet for 8 voices shows evidence of influence by the Venetian polychoral style, with its use of the coro spezzato technique.

His wide-ranging, eclectic style blended archaism and modernity. He rarely used the cantus firmus technique, preferring the then-new Venetian polychoral manner, yet he was equally conversant with earlier imitative techniques. Some of his chromatic transitions foreshadowed the breakup of modality; his five-voice motet Mirabile mysterium contains chromaticism worthy of Carlo Gesualdo. He enjoyed word painting in the style of the madrigal, yet he could write the simple Ecce quomodo moritur justus later used by George Frideric Handel in his funeral anthem The Ways of Zion Do Mourn.

His secular output, about 100 short pieces, was published in the collections Harmoniae morales (Prague 1589 and 1590) and Moralia (Nuremberg 1596). Some of these works were madrigals in Latin, an unusual language for the form (most madrigals were in Italian); others were songs in German, and others were compositions in Latin.[1]

Critical editions of Gallus works have been prepared by Edo kulj and published by the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRCSAZU).



  • Allen B. Skei/Danilo Pokorn: "Jacobus Handl", Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed March 23, 2008), (subscription access)
  • Gustave Reese, Music in the Renaissance. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954. ISBN 0-393-09530-4
  • Edo kulj, Clare vir - Ob 450-letnici rojstva Iacobusa Gallusa, Ljubljana (Druina) 2000, ISBN 961-6358-02-2,
  • Edo kulj (ed.), Gallusovi predgovori in drugi dokumenti, Ljubljana (Druina-Cerkveni glasbenik) 1991


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Skei/Pokorn, Grove online
  2. Reese, p. 736
  3. Skei/Pokorn: Grove online
  4. Savnik, Roman, ed. 1968. Krajevni leksikon Slovenije, vol. 1. Ljubljana: Dravna zaloba Slovenije. p. 424.
  5. Reese, p. 736-738

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Jacobus Gallus

  • Fine Arts: Jacobus Gallus. Arnes.si
  • Free scores by Jacobus Gallus in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
  • Free scores by Jacobus Gallus in the International Music Score Library Project
  • Image of Gallus on Slovenian 200 tolar banknote
This page was last modified 24.02.2014 08:11:52

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