Adam Ileborgh

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Adam Ileborgh (active mid-15th century) was a musician and Franciscan of the late Middle Ages.

Live and act

Neither the date and place of birth nor place of death of Adam Ileborgh could be determined by music historical research. An origin from Ihleburg or belonging to a noble family called Ilburg (h) is obvious, but cannot be proven. The only and essential document about him and his work is one of the oldest German organ tablatures , which he himself dated to the year 1448. The full title is: Incipiunt praeludia diversarum notarum secundum modernum modum subtiliter et diligenter collecta cum mensuris diversis hic infra annexis per fratrem Adam Ileborgh Anno Domini 1448 tempore sui rectoratus in stendall . This title shows that at that time he was the school principal in the town of Stendal in what was then Altmark . He could also have been organist in the St. Mary's Church in Stendal , consecrated in 1447, or in the church of the Franciscan monastery , which had existed in Stendal since around 1230/40 and belonged to the Saxon Franciscan Province and where he probably lived. Further details about his life are not known.

Work and meaning

Beginning of Adam Ileborgh's handwritten tablature

The aforementioned tablature manuscript contains five short preludes without bar division and three mensurae on the secular song Frowe al myn hope an dyr lyed . The small format (14.3 × 10.8 cm), the use of parchment as a carrier and the tendency towards calligraphy of the musical notation strongly suggest that it is a striking dedication and not a musical text for practical use. The addressee of the dedication is still unknown today. Because the use of the term collecta not only in the former parlance collected , but also represented or taken does is to suggest that Ileborgh is not the collector or copyist but the author of this here sets. Since its discovery, the manuscript has changed hands several times between private and public owners. In the 20th century it belonged to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia , and in 1981 it came into unknown private ownership at auction. It was shown publicly for the last time in 1998 at a symposium in Stendal.

Ileborgh's organ tablature has two unique selling points:

  • it is the earliest purely instrumental organ tablature that is no longer tied to vocal works,
  • it is the only evidence of north German organ art up to the beginning of the 17th century.

This manuscript is written in the so-called older German tablature script, in which the lower voices are notated with tone letters, above which the mensural notated upper parts are. However, Ileborgh did not write the chords of the lower voices, as usual, with letters one above the other, but wrote the letters next to one another. Now and then there is also a lower part written out in notes. The use of the pedal is expressly mentioned in an inscription , without giving more precise instructions on how to do it.

In the five preludes, the upper voices ( superius ) move over mostly sustained chords in linear but rhythmically irregular melodies with an improvisational character, as indicated by the term modernus modus in the title . These pieces can be seen as pioneers of free imagination . In the three mensurae, on the other hand, the song arrangements are clearly set out in bars. Here the melody is played in uniform cantus firmus note values ​​in the lower part ( tenor ), above it a rhythmically parallel filler part and a linear, sometimes somewhat virtuoso upper part in small note values. Adam Ileborgh's organ movements have not yet been fully clarified from a musicological point of view with regard to tradition, compositional style and performance practice. The fact that Ileborgh is completely unknown as a musician outside of the authorship of his tablature suggests that he was more of an average marginal figure in German organ music of the 15th century.


Adam Ileborgh's tablature consists of the following parts:

  • Praeambulum in C et potest variari in dfg a.
  • Praeambulum bonum super C manualiter et variatur ad omnes.
  • Praeambulum bonum pedale seu manuale in d.
  • Praeambulum super daf et g.
  • Aliud praeambulum super d manualiter et variatur super agf et c.
  • Mensura trium notarum supra tenorem “Frowe al myn hope an dyr lyet”.
  • Mensura duorum notarum eiusdem tenoris.
  • Mensura sex notarum eiusdem notaris.

Sheet music editions

Complete edition:

  • Willi Apel (Ed.): Keyboard Music of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (= Corpus of Early Keyboard Music No. 1), American Institute of Musicology, o.O. 1963, pp. 28-32

Selection outputs:

  • Michael Radulescu (Ed.): Organum antiquum: earliest organ music (= Diletto musicale No. 787), Doblinger, Vienna 1978, DNB 354221094
  • Peter Marr (Ed.): Old German organ music: 6 pieces by Ileborgh, Buchner, Finck, Isaac (= Hinrichsen No. 500), Hinrichsen Edition, London 1967, DNB 1001724712 .

Literature (selection)

  • Willi Apel : The tablature of Adam Ileborgh , in: Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft 16, 1934, pp. 193–212 ( Textarchiv - Internet Archive )
  • Gerhard Knoche: The organist Adam Ileborgh von Stendal. Contribution to researching his living conditions , in: Franziskanische Studien Nr. 28, 1941, ISSN  0016-0067 , pp. 54-62 ( limited preview in the Google book search; with reproduction of the tablature pages )
  • Willi Apel: History of organ and piano music up to 1700 , Bärenreiter, Kassel 1967 ( limited preview in the Google book search)
  • Lukas Richter: Preambles and Mensurae. Studies on the organ tablature of Adam Ileborgh , in: Contributions to Musicology No. 23, 1981, ISSN  0005-8106 , pp. 265-308
  • Klaus Aringer: On the playing process of beginning and closing in the oldest organ music , in: Acta Organologica No. 27, 2001, pp. 249-258
  • Claus Bockmaier: Tactus and Mensura: reflections on a primary technique of keyboard music, based on Adam Ileborgh , in: Acta Organologica No. 27, 2001, pp. 259-278
  • Franz Körndle (Ed.): Organ playing and organ music at the time of Adam Ileborgh , in: Acta Organologica No. 27, 2001, ISSN  0567-7874 , pp. 205–278 (= presentations of the symposium on July 23/24, 1998 in Stendal, contains the contributions by Klaus Aringer, Claus Bockmaier, Franz Körndle and Martin Staehelin)
  • Franz Körndle: "Usus" and "Abusus organorum" in the 15th and 16th centuries , in: Acta Organologica No. 27, 2001, pp. 223–240
  • Martin Staehelin : The organ tablature of Adam Ileborgh. Manuscript history, shape and function , in: Acta Organologica No. 27, 2001, pp. 209–222
  • Martin Staehelin: On the " contexts of use" of older organ tablatures , in: Acta Organologica No. 27, 2001, pp. 241–247

Web links


  1. Martin Staehelin: Ileborgh, Adam , in: Ludwig Finscher (Ed.), The Music in Past and Present , second edition, personal section, Volume 9 (Him – Kel), Bärenreiter / Metzler, Kassel et al. 2003, ISBN 3-7618- 1119-5 , columns 619-621
  2. Marc Honegger, Günther Massenkeil : The great lexicon of music , Volume 4, Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1981, ISBN 3-451-18054-5
  3. ^ The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , edited by Stanley Sadie, 2nd Edition, Volume 12, McMillan Publishers, London 2001, ISBN 0-333-60800-3
  4. ^ Hermann Josef Busch , Matthias Geuting (Ed.): Lexicon of the Organ , 2nd edition, Laaber-Verlag, Laaber 2008