Jacobus Gallus Carniolus (1550-1591): New readings from the sources

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Art and Music Histories


George Nugent


Czechoslovakia, Choral music, Jacobus Gallus Carniolus

Subject Categories

Cultural History | Music


Jacobus Gallus Carniolus (1550-1591) enriched the polyphonic repertory with 374 motets, twenty masses, and one hundred Moralia on Latin texts. Gallus' own efforts to print his compositions in Prague assured preservation of his works for later generations. Today, his known compositions are available in modern transcriptions and scholarly editions that reveal the full spectrum of the style and scope of this prolific 16th-century composer. Information about his life, however, is still very scarce. For the thirty years prior to his appointment as regens chori at Olomouc in 1580, only scattered information is available, primarily from Gallus' own comments, notes, and dedications in editions that he saw through publication up to his death in 1591. Through the centuries, Gallus' works have steadily drawn the interest of performers and scholars. Scholarly studies of all phases of Gallus' work have appeared, approaching his life and work from various points of view. The questions raised in this dissertation start with a single entry in the financial archives of the Hofkammerarchiv in Vienna preserved from the second half of the 16th century. The claim that this entry refers to Jacobus Gallus will be questioned in this study on the basis of close readings of the documentation. My arguments support a new hypothesis and a new direction in research about Gallus' life prior to 1575. This hypothesis denies Gallus' alleged membership in the Imperial Hofkapelle in Vienna in 1574, and thereby requires new research to discover Gallus' professional development outside the Imperial Court Chapel where hitherto it was assumed to have taken place. Consequently, the second area of this investigation concentrates on an initial exploration into selected Austrian Benedictine monasteries to discover references to Gallus in formative years. This search is motivated by Gallus' own, even though indirect, reference to this milieu. In the third chapter, additional topics are investigated to support arguments developed in chapters one and two, by observing Gallus as a person of his time, through his choice of text, his preferred type and style of composition, and his shift from sacred to secular forms of music. This dissertation makes an important contribution to the study on Gallus, and indicates a new direction in research toward an enlarged and corrected biography of Jacobus Gallus Carniolus.


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