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J. A. Reincken in the focus: 1722-2022

November 24-26, 2022, Hamburg (Germany)

The Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg (HfMT) presents in collaboration with the Institut de Recherche en Musicologie - IReMus (Sorbonne Université, CNRS, BnF, Ministère de la Culture), Paris, an interdisciplinary conference “J. A. Reincken in the Focus: 1722-2022” (November 24­-26,  2022).

Organizing Committee

  • Christophe Guillotel-Nothmann (IReMus Paris)
  • Jan Philipp Sprick (HfMT Hamburg)
  • Roberta Vidic (HfMT Hamburg)

Scientific Committee

  • Achille Davy-Rigaux (IReMus Paris)
  • Michael Heinemann (HfM Dresden)
  • Théodora Psychoyou (IReMus Paris)
  • Ivana Rentsch (Universität Hamburg)

November 24, 2022 marks the 300th anniversary of Johann Adam Reincken’s (1643–1722) death. Reincken was organist at the Hauptkirche St. Katharinen in Hamburg, a central figure in the Collegium Musicum, and co-founder of the Oper am Gänsemarkt. He is widely regarded as a leading figure of the North German organ school and a “source of influence on Johann Sebastian Bach that can hardly be overestimated” (Emery & Wolff 2001). Yet despite this, his own œuvre has so far received only cursory attention, mostly in the form of specialized studies. The task of this symposium, which ranges over the socio-cultural context, the material culture, the music-theoretical writings, and the compositions themselves, is to better understand Reincken's work and so to redefine his place in both local and European musical and cultural history.

We invite proposals for 20-minute paper presentations on any topics related to the conference themes. Paper may be presented in German, French, or English. The symposium will take place on site, at different venues in Hamburg. Only in exceptional cases, contributions might be streamed into the lecture halls (without online audience). Participation is free of charge.

Submissions should be sent as a single .pdf file to roberta.vidic(at)hfmt-hamburg(dot)de and include the following information:

  • Name and, in case, institutional affiliation
  • Contact Information
  • Abstract (max. 300 words)
  • Short biography (max. 100 words)

The deadline for submissions is January 9, 2022. Abstracts will be selected by the end of February 2022.

Section 1 – Socio-cultural context

The cultural life of the Hanseatic city of Hamburg underwent great changes in the middle of the 17th century. Thomas Selle, appointed Kantor at the Johanneum in 1641, contributed to a significant improvement in the quality of church music with the professionalization of choral music. Selle’s successor, Christoph Bernhard, argued for the introduction of elements of stylus modernus into liturgical composition. Organists also took up the stylus modernus integrating it into the tradition of North-German counterpoint. The resulting stylus phantasticus was a means of establishing identity and conveying civic consciousness. As a result, Hamburg church music assumed a prominent role both within and beyond the region, while Hamburg organists like Reincken became its emblematic figures.  

In this context, the foundation of the Collegium Musicum in 1660 is an event of crucial importance since it assured a link between the increasing autonomy of church music and the emergence of a secular vocal repertoire (Gauthier 2009, 79–88). As a meeting place for instrumentalists, singers, professional and amateur choirs, the Collegium lays the groundwork of new musical ways of combining theater, poetry, and song. The foundation of its first performance venue, the Oper am Gänsemarkt, can be traced back to Reincken, Gerhard Schott and Peter Lütjen. This section investigates the socio-cultural context of the musical and compositional innovations of Reincken and his contemporaries.

Section 2 – Material culture 

Research on material culture relating to Reincken and his immediate environment is primarily concerned with iconography and organology. Important premises for this research work are the rediscovery of the painting Häusliche Musickszene (Domestic Music Scene, 1674) by Johannes Voorhout and the reconstruction of the large organ of the Hauptkirche St. Katharinen in Hamburg. These and other objects provide concrete clues for further research on Reincken’s work in the field of domestic and church music making.

This section aims to deepen previous findings from an interdisciplinary perspective. Thus, questions can be, for instance, which significance can be attributed to iconographic representations in connection with musical practice, or in what way instrument construction or room acoustic conditions may have exerted an influence on Reincken’s work. The Häusliche Musickszene is thought to represent not only Reincken, but also Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Theile. Music making among friends is associated with the Collegium musicum and can be traced forward into the musical culture of eighteenth-century Hamburg. The historic organ in St. Katharinen was built for a North German brick cathedral and expanded under Reincken’s supervision. It was left untouched by Arp Schnitger. In addition to questions of composition and performance practice, matters of sound and acoustics under historical conditions can also be discussed. 

Section 3 – Music theoretical writings

Since the early twentieth century, Volume X of the Sweelinck Complete Edition has given scholars access to Sweelinck's rules of composition, which were further elaborated by his direct and indirect students, including Reincken. However, the fact that the editor (Gehrmann 1901) intended a reconstruction of a "Sweelinck archetype" of compositional theory has kept Reincken’s own theoretical contribution in the background. This contribution also remains biographically incomplete because a manuscript written by Reincken himself (D-Hs ND VI 5002) was omitted until recently.

The aim of this section is to shed new light on Reincken’s music theory by means of comprehensive source study. In addition to double counterpoint and fugue, which have been the subject of earlier studies (e. g. Walker 1986, Schäfertöns 1998, 2000), other less studied theoretical points, such as meter, mode, and transposition theory, will also be considered here. Another focus is the genesis and transmission of Reincken’s music theory. This includes, on the one hand, reconstructing the intertextual network into which his writings fit and, on the other hand, reflecting on their goals and intentions. While the Sweelinck manuscripts have been interpreted from Gehrmann to Braun (1994) as intimately bound up with Sweelinck’s pedagogy, not all of Reincken’s writings can be understood against this didactic background, so that their meaning and motivation should be questioned anew.

Section 4 – Musical works

This section focuses on two aspects of Reincken’s compositions that have posed problems for previous research. Since most of Reincken’s compositions are not available in contemporary editions, we are fortunate to have editions of many, though by no means all, of Reincken’s compositions. However, the compositions for keyboard instruments, for example, had to wait until Willi Apel’s 1967 complete edition. 

The discrepancy between the frequent biographically oriented references to Reincken in publications on the history of music and composition and the comparatively late availability of secure musical texts is also evident in the field of musical analysis. Although Reincken’s name is mentioned in almost every text dealing with the genesis and differentiation of Johann Sebastian Bach's style, the analytical examination of his compositions remains in a rudimentary state. Frequent claims about Reincken’s mediate position in the history of style and composition between the 17th and 18th centuries have hardly been substantiated. In the papers of this section, problems of attribution and dating will be discussed in connection with the editions already available. In a further thematic focus, questions concerning the location of Reincken’s music in the history of composition will be addressed analytically.

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