Sethus Calvisius

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Sethus Calvisius

Sethus Calvisius , actually Seth Kalwitz (born February 21, 1556 in Gorsleben , † November 24, 1615 in Leipzig ), was a composer , music theorist and cantor in Schulpforta and Leipzig as well as an astronomer and mathematician .


Growing up in modest circumstances, in which his father worked as a day laborer in the country, Calvisius should first learn the weaving trade. However, his urge for education was so strong that he attended the school in Frankenhausen in 1569 and from 1572 the school in Magdeburg . In Magdeburg he begged and acquired the financial means in church service to start studying.

From 1579 he first attended the University of Helmstedt , then received a scholarship from Elector August von Sachsen and in 1580 went to the University of Leipzig . There he dealt with mathematics , chronology , astronomy and so intensively with music that in the following year he was promoted to rector of the choir at the Paulinerkirche .

On the recommendation of Nikolaus Selnecker and the entire theological faculty of the University of Leipzig, he was called to Schulpforta as cantor in November 1582 , where, among other things, he introduced motet singing at mealtimes. In addition, he worked as a teacher not only in the field of music, he also gave lessons in Hebrew and conducted chronological-historical studies. In 1594 he returned to Leipzig, where he was given the honorable office of cantor of the Thomas School and both main churches.

Although he was offered a professorship in mathematics at the University of Wittenberg in 1611 and a professorship at the University of Frankfurt / Oder , he stayed in Leipzig and worked there until the end of his life. In addition to some famous pupils, he also maintained friendly relationships with greats of his time, such as Johannes Kepler .

He also achieved significant achievements as an astronomer. His main work is the Opus Chronologicum ubi tempus astronomicum per motus et eclipses luminarium celestium . According to the Allgemeine Deutscher Biographie (ADB) “this work earned him the name of one of the most excellent German scholars. It was the fruit of 20 years of research, received the highest recognition of the Scaliger, Casaubon and Petavius ​​and was for a long time the guideline for all similar work ”.

In 1907, Calvisiusstrasse in the Lindenau district of Leipzig was named after Sethus Calvisius.

Calvisius married Magdalena Jung, daughter of the citizen and baker Hans Jung in Leipzig in 1595. The marriage resulted in four sons and a daughter, one of whom died young.


  • Harmonia cantionum ecclesiasticarum, church chants a. spiritual songs D. Lutheri a. other pious Christians, correctly set contrapuntal with 4 votes. Leipzig 1597, 1598, 1605, 1612 and 1622, edited by Franz Kaern-Biederstedt, 2015
  • Melopoiia sive melodiae condendae ratio. Erfurt 1592 and 1630
  • Compendium musicae practicae. Leipzig 1594 also appeared in 1612 as Musicae artis praecepta
  • Exercitatio musica tertia. Leipzig 1611
  • Exercitationes musicae duae. Leipzig 1600
  • Hymni sacri Latini et Germanici. Erfurt 1594
  • The Psalter of David. edited by Cornelius Becker, Leipzig 1605
  • The 150th Psalm of David. Leipzig 1615
  • Opus chronologicum ex autoritate s. scripturae ad motum luminarium coelestium contextum. Leipzig 1605 and last edition Frankfurt 1685 in the sixth edition
  • Elenchus calendarii Gregoriani. Leipzig 1613
  • Formula calendarii novi. Leipzig 1613
  • Thesaurus latini sermonis. Leipzig 1614
  • Enchiridion lexici Latino-Germanici. Leipzig 1614
  • Tricinia, Auserlesene Deutsche Lieder. edited by Paul Rubardt, 1949
  • 10 motets, edited by Albrecht Tunger, 1965.
  • Biciniorum libri duo, Leipzig 1612



  • CD - “Rejoice and celebrate!” (Sacred vocal music by Sethus Calvisius), Vocalconsort Leipzig , Ensemble Noema Leipzig, conducted by Gregor Meyer, 2009, querstand
  • LP - "Our life lasts seventy years", motet on the record "Thomaskantoren, motets by JS Bach and his predecessors", published by Cantate. Dresdner Kreuzchor , conducted by Rudolf Mauersberger

Web links

Commons : Sethus Calvisius  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ So the title of the 5th edition, 1650, first edition Frankfurt / Main 1601; six more editions followed, cf. Houzeau-Lancester 12831, there, however, wrong indication of the place of printing: Frankfurt / Oder.
  2. ADB, Volume III, p. 716.