Melchior Franck

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Melchior Franck (* around 1579 in Zittau ; † June 1, 1639 in Coburg ) was a Protestant German composer at the turn of the style from the late Renaissance to the early Baroque .


Memorial stone on the Coburg Palace Square

Little is known about Melchior Franck's living conditions. No picture or bequest has survived, and only a single manuscript has come down to us. He attended grammar school in Augsburg, was a pupil of Hans Leo Haßler and went with him to Nuremberg. There he worked for a year as a school assistant at St. Egidien in 1602. Even if you don't know anything about his training, he may have been a student of Christoph Demantius , as his works show a thorough knowledge of the “Dutch style” of the lasso school. Unlike some of his contemporaries, such as Heinrich Schütz , Franck did not have the opportunity to go on a study trip to Italy. Melchior Franck probably got to know the then new Italian style, the seconda pratica , through Hans Leo Haßler . In 1603, Melchior Franck took the position of court conductor with Duke Johann Casimir in Coburg, which he held for life.

After many strokes of fate, such as the death of his children and his wife, the hardship of the Thirty Years War and the death of Duke Johann Casimir, Franck died in poverty in 1639.


Melchior Franck is at the turn of the late Renaissance (represented for example by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina , Thomas Tallis and Orlando di Lasso) to the early Baroque. It belongs to the stylistic environment of Michael Praetorius , Melchior Vulpius and Leonhard Lechner . Claudio Monteverdi and Heinrich Schütz are among his contemporaries. He created an extensive compositional oeuvre, most of which appeared in print and was tailored to the musical needs of a baroque royal court.

Franck's work includes sacred music in German and Latin, primarily for use in Protestant worship. Numerous motets , psalm settings and other church music have been preserved. Well known are, for example, the four-part Gemmulae Evangeliorum (also published as German Gospel Sayings for the church year ) from 1623, some chorales (in the Evangelical Hymnal you can find the melodies of Gen Himmel ascended [EG 119] and Jerusalem, you high-rise city [EG 150]) as well as the canon Da pacem, Domine ? / i (originally a guest book entry). Audio file / audio sample

Franck also composed secular vocal music. His numerous secular songbooks also have literary importance with regard to the texts ( mountain series , Reuterliedlein, Quodlibets, love and other folk songs or chants based on Italian models). He also created instrumental music, such as dance movements. The folk song "Ach Tannenbaum", an original version of the love song O Tannenbaum, which was later rewritten as the popular Christmas song O Tannenbaum , is attributed to him.


Franck was valued as a “famous master” by contemporaries such as Johann Staden and Valentin Dretzel . His instrumental works were important for the development of the orchestral suite .

A hundred years after his death, Franck was forgotten. His work was not rediscovered until the late 19th and 20th centuries. As before, large parts of his work are only known to specialists.

The Melchior-Franck-Kreis Coburg has made special contributions to the maintenance of the Franck heritage . Ensembles for early music regularly perform Franck's music, for example the Ensemble Alte Musik Dresden or Cantus Thuringia & Capella .

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