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The Mastersingers (also Mastersingers ) were bourgeois poets and singers in the 15th and 16th centuries who formed a guild . The poems and melodies of the master song (or master song ) were derived from the minnesang , but obeyed strict rules. Master craftsmen predominated among the artists , but there were also priests, teachers and lawyers.

Mastersingers and judges (1600)

Artistic organization

Invitation to a meeting of the Nuremberg Mastersingers from the late 16th century

The singing, its verse and stanzas structure (and initially also lute accompaniment ) were taught at Meistersinger schools. The guild of singers differentiated between the grades of pupil, school friend, singer, poet and only awarded the title of master after the approval of a master song . The biblical psalmist King David was venerated as patron .

The centers of the Mastersingers were Augsburg , Nuremberg , Strasbourg and Frankfurt am Main , but there were such music guilds of craftsmen, e.g. B. also in Upper Austria and Tyrol , in Alsace , in Gdansk , Wroclaw or Prague . The regular meetings usually took place in the church or in the town hall, later also as so-called " colliery " in taverns. The seals were presented and judged by the guild management ("marker") according to the rules of the tablature. Only poets could be appointed masters who invented a new melody (" tone ", tune ) and performed it without any errors. They had their own stage in Nuremberg's Marthakirche .

The rules of master singing were intended to offer help and stimulate compositional activity, but were interpreted more and more narrowly. This tendency was caricatured by Richard Wagner in his opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in 1868 - especially in the person of the strict town clerk Beckmesser , whose name became synonymous with pedantry .

The songs had a fixed scheme, the bar form : Stollen -Stollen- Abgesang . The special form of the reprise bar AABA was also common, in which the gallery was repeated in whole or in part at the end of the swan song.

Johann Christoph Wagenseil (1633–1705) wrote the work Von der Meister-Singer Holdseligen Kunst in 1697 , in which many names of Nuremberg Mastersingers have been handed down.

Outstanding masters

  • Nutmeg , ca.1380 to after 1438
  • Bernkopf , called Frauenzucht , around 1431, who celebrated the death of Philipp von Ingelheim and other Palatinate knights in the Battle of Bulgnéville in 1431
  • Hans Rosenplüt , "the Schnepperer": blacksmith and gunsmith in Nuremberg, approx. 1400 to 1460, wrote Carnival games , wine greetings, Schwänke and the praise poem for Nuremberg
  • Michael Beheim : active a. a. in Vienna , 1416–1474, 3 chronicles, a. a. The book of the Viennese (1462–65 with Emperor Friedrich III. ) And a satire about Prince Dracula
  • Hans Folz (Foltz): Doctor and barber in Nuremberg, approx. 1438–1513, also wrote carnival games, reformed the Nuremberg master song in 1480 and thereby promoted artistic diversity. At its heyday around 1500, southern Germany had over 250 master singers.
  • Hans Sachs (1494–1576): cobbler in Nuremberg and playwright ; most versatile poet of his time, over 4000 songs, 1800 poems and around 200 dramas. His Meistersinger volumes are kept in the Zwickau city archive. In Wagner's opera, he is portrayed positively towards other Mastersingers by being open to new forms of poetry while appreciating tradition.
  • Jörg Schechner (1500–1572) was initially a supporter of the Augsburg Anabaptist movement ; 21 of his songs have survived and a master tone ( Reisige Freudweis ), which Hans Sachs later adopted for at least 11 of his songs.
  • Jörg Wickram : goldsmith, clerk, bookseller 1505–1562 (?), Honorary title "Hans Sachs vom Kaiserstuhl". Founds the Meistersinger School in Colmar in 1546 , diverse baroque literature, Rollwagenbüchlin 1555 (reprint 1966), travel stories for long carriage rides
  • Cyriacus Spangenberg : Strasbourg theologian 1528–1604, and his son Wolfhart Spangenberg 1570–1636 ?, textbook Singschul 1615 and Hs. Von der Musica, Singekunst or Meistergesang (both repr. In: W. Spangenberg Sämtl. Werke )
  • Lorenz Wessel (* 1529; † after 1576): 1553 in Magdeburg, 1557 in Moosburg an der Isar, 1562 in Steyr and Waidhofen an der Ybbs, 1568, 1570 in Vienna, 1570 in Mistelbach an der Zaya (Lower Austria) and 1573 in Vienna , Kürschner, 46 master songs known, 40 preserved, set up the Steyer and Iglauer tablature
  • Adam Puschman : Breslau 1532–1600, high school teacher, studied with Sachs
  • Johann Spreng : Augsburg 1524–1601, notary from 1594, translated Homer
  • Peter Heiberger : Nagler in Steyr , approx. 1550–1600, two collections of songs
  • Paulus Freudenlechner : approx. 1550–1616, Singschulen Wels and Eferding in Upper Austria, extensive manuscript of master songs, 1691–93 Breslau
  • Benedict von Watt 1569-1616, wrote the master hymnbook around 1610 (with Hans Winter , † 1627)
  • Ambrosius Metzger 1573–1632, Magister in Nuremberg. Metamorphosis Ovidij brought to Meisterthoene
The "twelve old masters" (top left), Johann Weidhofer, Iglauer Postenbrief 1612

In the tradition of the Mastersingers, the " twelve old masters " of minnesong were the role models: Walther von der Vogelweide , Wolfram von Eschenbach , Reinmar the Old , Heinrich von Meißen (Frauenlob) , Konrad von Würzburg , Konrad Marner , Hartmann von Aue , Heinrich von Mügeln , Reinmar von Zweter , Brother Wernher , Friedrich von Sonnenburg and Master Boppe . The four “crowned masters” were also role models: in addition to the aforementioned Heinrich von Meißen (Frauenlob) and Konrad Marner, these were Heinrich von Mügeln and the rainbow poet . In addition, the works of Neidhart von Reuental were very popular.

The master songs have come down to us in around 120 manuscripts from the 15th to 19th centuries. The Kolmar song manuscript (Mainz around 1480) contains around 900 song texts and 105 melodies. Although the publication of master chants was actually undesirable, the master chants contributed decisively to the transmission of folk songs , e.g. B. in the Lochamer songbook around 1450.

The Nuremberg Singing School was dissolved in 1770, and those in Ulm and Memmingen followed 50 to 100 years later when the men's choirs emerged, which in a certain way represented a continuation. The last association of Mastersingers was dissolved in Memmingen in 1872. The last active Meistersinger died in Memmingen in 1922.

Reception in the 19th century

The Meistersinger Heinrich von Mügeln dedicated fountain in Mügeln


  • Adam Puschman: Thorough report of the German master song . Fritsch, Görlitz 1574 ( digitized ÖNB , Google ); further versions 1584 and 1596
  • Cyriacus Spangenberg : From the noble and highly famous art of musica ... also a perfect report as the Meistersenger received . Manuscript, 1598. Edition: Adelbert von Keller (Ed.): Cyriacus Spangenberg: Von der Musica und die Meistersängern . (Library of the Litterarian Society in Stuttgart; 62). Stuttgart 1861 ( digitized by Google ; Commons )
  • Kurtze Drafting of the German master song ... by a sampled company of the master singers in Memmingen . Johann Weyrich Rößlin, Stuttgart 1660 ( digitized version )
  • Johann Christoph Wagenseil : Book Of The Master-Singer Holdseligen Art Beginning, Continuation, Usability, and Teaching Sentences . In: De Sacri Rom. Imperii Libera Civitate Noribergensi Commentatio . Altdorf 1697, pp. 433-576 ( digitized version ); Reprint of the Meistersinger Trakats: edited and provided with an afterword by Horst Brunner, Göppingen 1975, ISBN 3-87452-290-3
  • Karl Drescher (Ed.): Nürnberger Meistersinger Protocols from 1575–1689 . 2 volumes. (Library of the Litterarian Society in Stuttgart; 213–214). 1897 ( digitized volume 1 ; volume 2 )
  • Max Herrmann : The Theater of the Mastersingers in Nuremberg , in: Ders .: Research on German theater history of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance . Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, Berlin 1914 ( digitized version )
  • Bert Nagel: Meistersang . (= Metzler Collection; 12). Metzler, Stuttgart 1962, 2nd edition 1971
  • Johannes Karl Wilhelm Willers: Hans Sachs and the Mastersingers in their time . An exhibition of the Germanic National Museum in the New Town Hall in Bayreuth. GNM, Nuremberg 1981
  • Irene Stahl: The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. Archival studies . (Nuremberg work pieces on city and state history; Vol. 33). City archive, Nuremberg 1982, ISBN 3-87432-080-4 (plus dissertation, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg 1982)
  • Frieder Schanze: Masterful art of song between Heinrich von Mügeln and Hans Sachs . 2 volumes. Artemis, Munich and Zurich 1983, ISBN 3-7608-3382-9 and ISBN 3-7608-3383-7 (also dissertation, University of Tübingen 1983)
  • Reinhard Hahn: master singing . Bibliographical Institute, Leipzig 1985
  • Dieter Merzbacher: Meistergesang in Nuremberg around 1600. Investigations into the texts and collections of Benedict von Watt (1569-1616) . (Nuremberg workpieces on city and state history; Vol. 39). Stadtarchiv / Korn und Berg, Nuremberg 1987, ISBN 3-87432-111-8 (also dissertation, University of Würzburg 1986)
  • Eva Klesatschke, Horst Brunner (Ed.): Master songs from the 16th to 18th centuries (Edition). Niemeyer, Tübingen 1993, ISBN 3-484-36517-X
  • Horst Brunner: Mastersingers . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 6, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1993, ISBN 3-7608-8906-9 , Sp. 486-488.
  • Horst Brunner, Burghart Wachinger (ed.): Repertory of the singing verses and master songs of the 12th to 18th centuries . 16 volumes. Niemeyer, Tübingen, 1994-2002 ISBN 3-484-10500-3
  • Margreth Egidi (Ed.): Sangspruchtradition. Performance - strategies of validity - areas of tension . Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2004, ISBN 3-631-50554-X
  • Michael Baldzuhn: The companies of Meistergesang in Germany . In: Arjan van Dixhoorn, Susie Speakman Sutch (Ed.): The Reach of the Republic of Letters. Literary and Learned Societies in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe . Brill, Leiden and Boston 2008, pp. 219–255 (German, extended version: full text ).
  • Otto Plate: "The art expressions of the mastersingers", in: Strassburger Studien 3/2, S. 147–242 (= Diss. University of Strasbourg 1887). ViFaMusik .

Web links

Commons : Meistersinger  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. from: Disk: Zwickau dated February 28, 2011, contribution to the discussion by archivist B. Dressel ( Memento of the original dated March 7, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. of the Zwickau City Archives: "The volumes of Hans Sachs are not in the Ratsschulbibliothek , but in the Zwickau City Archives . A total of 21 volumes of master songs and poems by Hans Sachs are still preserved in the Zwickau City Archives , 14 volumes, two quarto and six Folio volumes of Meistergesänge (MG 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13 and 15), six folio volumes of Spruchgedichte (SG 4, 11, 12, 13, 16 and 18) and the Sachs' catalog raisonné are kept. " @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. For the life and work of Schechner see Irene Stahl: Jörg Schechner. Anabaptist – Meistersinger – Schwärmer , Volume V in the series Würzburg Contributions to German Philology (Eds. Horst Brunner, Gunter E. Grimm and others), Würzburg 1991, ISBN 3-88479-563-5
  3. ^ Uli and Walter Braun: One hour for Memmingen. 10th edition. Publishing house of the Memminger Zeitung, Memmingen 1999.
  4. ^ Willibald Gurlitt, Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht (ed.): Riemann Music Lexicon (subject part) . B. Schott's Sons, Mainz 1967, p. 82 .