Israel Pourel - Lutenist and Musician

in 17th Century Stockholm

By Kenneth Sparr


Nynäshamn 2006





Kenneth Sparr's pages

A Swedish version of this article


In a lute tablature manuscript, now housed in the Lund University Library (Wenster G 34) and dating from the beginning of the 18th century, you can find the following entry: "Luthenisten Pourells i Stockholm St˙cken på 4 fölljande arken [the pieces of Pourell, lutenist in Stockholm, on the following four sheets]". This entry is the starting-point for this article and I will return to a description of the relevant contents of the tablature manuscript later on. Who was then the lutenist Pourell in Stockholm?[1] There is a scarcity of information on Swedish lutenists working outside the royal court and due to this Pourell is particularly interesting as he doesn't seem to have had any employment at the court. During the late 17th century the following lutenists were employed court lutenists: Johan Bengtsson (1656-1673), Hinrich Niewerth (1666-1699) and Gustav Düben the younger (1685-1688).[2] There seems to have been no lutenists employed after 1700.[3]



Allemande (fol. 1), Gavotte and the beginning of Gavotte C'est l'amour (fol. 40) from the lute tablature manuscript Wenster G 34, Lund University Library.


Pourell's full name was Israel Pourel. He was the son of the "fransyske Hofspråkmästaren" [the teacher of French at the court] Bertram Pourel and his wife Catharina Grubb. Bertram Pourel is probably identical with the Bartholomew Pourel de Hatrize who in the 17th century published two French grammars in Sweden: Court et droit sentier ā la langue franįoise... in 1650 and Tabula rudimentorum lingue gallicæ... in 1664.[4] The first book was dedicated to Queen Christina and the second to King Charles XI. Bartholomew (Bertram) Pourel came from Hatrize, a small village situated between Verdun and Metz in the department of Meurte-et-Moselle, arrondissement Briey in Lorraine.[5] This part of France was severely affected during the Thirty Years war and in 1635 the village of Hatrize was ravaged and burnt by the Swedish army , which used this part of Lorraine as a source for maintenance and supply for their actions in Alsace.[6] At this period, from 1633, Sweden was allied with France. Anyway Bertram Pourel must have arrived in Sweden before 1650, and in the preface to his first book he wrote: "Hwarföre effter jagh någhen tijdh, såsom en fremmande och här till nästan som en Peregrinant, här uthi Götharijket wistats hafuer... [since I as a stranger and almost as a traveller have stayed in the kingdom of the Goths for some time]".


In 1658 Bertram Pourel met Catharina Grubb in connection with teaching her brothers in French. At this time Catharina was married to a Jakob Mårtensson, secretary to count Schering Rosenhane. However, Jakob died in 1658. Bertram Pourel had also been married earlier and had three children (two of which probably were named Samuel and Abigail). The betrothal between Bertram and Catharina occurred in 1658, but we have no information when they were married. From the 1670s there are several entries about Bertram Pourel and Catharina Grubb concerning a conflict between them and the mayor and the council of the city of Nyköping and a person called Johan Snack. This indicates that they may have in lived in this city for some time.[7] The marriage between Bertram and Catharina resulted in four children: Johan Ludvig, Chrispinus, Israel and Agata Sofia. Israel was probably born in the mid-1660s. In his early age Israel became fatherless as Bertram Pourel in the turn of the year 1667/1668 was beaten to death in Stockholm, probably by a Matthias Larsson Falkensten.[8] When the case was investigated it seems as if Falkensten since 1667 was indebted to Pourel and thus it may have been an economic conflict that caused the assault. In the legal procedures it even was suggested that Catharina Grubb and Falkensten, who was a relative to Catharina, had conspired to murder Bertram Pourel. The relatives of Pourel later tried to get money back from Falkensten's family and the legal proceedings concerning this matter lasted until the end of the 17th century. However, Falkensten was never sentenced for the assault on Pourel and he later served as a captain at the regiment of Västmanland. At his death Bertram Pourel left a house at Norrmalm at "Muncklägersgrunden" in Stockholm, two portraits of King Charles Gustavus X and Queen Hedvig Eleonora, about 130 books etc.[9] Probably the "Muncklägersgrunden" could be interpreted as "Muncklägreetz grändhen", a 17th century name for the present Gamla Brogatan, a street in the centre of Stockholm.[10] There were several legal proceedings concerning the distribution of the estate after Bertram Pourel. Before he died he also had pawned a sealed trunk with the businessman Johan Adlercrona. Bertram's wife, Catharina Grubb, later married to a Christopher von Bergen.


We have no information concerning the birthday or the birthplace of Israel Pourel nor about his childhood. He may have got his Christian name from his grandfather on his mother's side, Israel Jonæ Grubb, court chaplain with the Count Palatine Johan Casimir, and who later served as a vicar and a "rector scholæ" in Torshälla until his death in 1634. Israel Pourel says in an undated letter that he "blev kalladt ifrån Scholan Anno 74 ifrån min information... till detta höga hofvet..." [was called from the school and my instruction in the year 1674 to this exalted court][11] With the "exalted court" Pourel probably meant the court of count Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie, the most distinguished Swedish nobleman at this time, and it is possible that Pourel in 1674 came under the patronage of the count. The count's interest in music is well documented and he had during several decades his own "Hofkapelle" where quite a lot of musicians were employed on shorter or longer terms. We also know that the count during his years of study played the lute as many other noble young men did in the 17th century. A lot of young talented musicians came under de la Gardie's patronage and one of them was Johan Roman, the father of Johan Helmich Roman, the famous Swedish composer. de la Gardie also took a great interest in the Uppsala University, the chancellor of which he was for some time. He had very good connections with and generously supported Olof Rudbeck the elder in the ambitions of the latter to improve musical activities at the university.[12] In a letter from de la Gardie, dated 12 February 1678, to the dean in Lidköping, Jonas Jonae Rudberus, he asks the dean to take care of Israel Pourel:


Elliest lärer Jag och oförtöfwat få en lyten gosse hyt... som är Sal Språkmestaren Pourels son, dhen Jag elliest måste låta genom bibliothecarien wid slottet informera, men effter och han har een mächta wacker röst wille Jag wähl hälre honom desslykest hålla honom i Lidköping, dher allenast Eders Erewyrdighet mig försäkra wille att han så wäl där kunde underwysat blifwa, helst om Eders Erewyrdighet behagande taga honom till sig i huset, at han så mycket bettre uplyst kunde wara. Hwad Eders Erewyrdighetz hesitimenter wid alt dhetta wara kan förwänter Iag atförnimma och förblifwer i det öfriga

Eders Erewyrdighetz


[I'm soon also going to receive a small boy here... who is the son of the late teacher of language Pourel. I have to let the boy be instructed by the librarian at the castle, but as the boy has a exceptionally  beautiful voice I would prefer to keep him in Lidköping if Your Venerable can assure me that he will get as good education there and even better if you could have him in your house to get a good instruction. I expect to hear from you whether you have any doubts about this. Yours .....][13]


In an undated letter from Israel Pourel to de la Gardie, possibly written during Pourel's stay at the dean's house in Lidköping, Pourel appeals to de la Gardie that he should be able to receive training from his brother in the French language:


Eders Hög Grefl. Excellences nådiga omwårdnadt om mig faderlöse barn, gifwer mig den ödmiuke tiilförsigt att kunna blifwa försedd medh något wist till mina studiers fortkompt och uppehälle förän Eders Hög Grefl. Excellence mig fattig barn till afsaknadt härifrån förreser, ty senast iag här lemnades sades mig i huset kåsten upp, och benkläder ey heller på 3 åhr nutit, och icke någon information i mina studier. Eders Hög Grefl. Excellence fördenskiull iag af twungin nödh dhen förra nådige Resolution i diupeste underdånighet copialiter under lit: A framtaar, medh ödmiuk böön dhen höga nådige Resolution att åtniuta, män der så waar att Höglärde tyske Magisteren intet förblifwer här i staden, mig då nådigast måtte förunnat att förblifwa ... under någon annans information som af Eders Hög Grefl. Nåde der till befallat blifwer, då iag medh dhet samma fingo excersera mig uthi fransöskan hos min broder som här nu ähr, och af det språket profession giör. Eders Hög Grefl. Excellence under hwilckens nådige beskydd iag lefwer beder iagh ödmiukelig om ett nådigt Resolutions åtniutande. Gudh som är alla faderlösas fader skall iag troo-innerlig bedia att hans allmacht Eders Hög Grefl. Excellence mang:faldelig här timmelig och ewigt wälsignar och bekrönar

Eders Hög Grefl. Excellences


Israel Pourel


[Your Excellency's most gracious care for me fatherless child gives me a humble hope to be provided with something for the continuation of my studies and my subsistence before Your Excellency leaves to the regrets of this poor child. The last time I was left I did not get food in the house and I have not received any clothes for three years and furthermore no tuition in my studies. I am therefore forced to refer to the last gracious resolution, copied under lit. A, and with the most humble appeal to be in receipt of this. As the German teacher no longer stays in the city I hope most graciously to get tuition from someone else who Your Excellency would command to fulfil this duty. I also would be pleased to receive tuition in French from my brother who stays here now and who has made a profession of tuition in this language. As being under Your Excellency's patronage I humbly appeal to be in receipt of this resolution. I will fervently pray to God, who is the father of all fatherless children, that his almighty power many times, now and forever, will bless and crown Your Excellency.

Yours Excellency's humble and obedient servant

Israel Pourel][14]


According to Pourel himself he at a venture went to Uppsala in order to study at the university: "altså iagh uthan recomendation blått och baar begaf mig till Upsala, [war]äst H:r Professor Olaus Rudbeck migh förhiälpte under Musiquen till ett Stipendium nembl: 120 dollar kopparmynt..." [I went to Uppsala without a letter of recommendation but professor Olaus Rudbeck helped me to a scholarship in music, that is 120 copper dollar...]. On 16 March 1681 "Israel Pourel Holmensis" was registered as a student at the Uppsala University. He studied in "Classe Theologica" and at an early stage he was referred to as "Musicus [musician]". His studies did not last for more than two years, up to the autumn semester 1682, probably due to a lack of means to continue, but during his stay at the university he made a name of himself as a musician.[15]




An autograph letter from Israel Pourel dated 1683 to Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie. Riksarkivet, De la Gardieska samlingen C:1


Obviously he belonged to the inner musical circle around Olof Rudbeck the elder. Much later, in 1693, the latter wrote a letter of recommendation to Israel Pourel:


Monsieur Pourel.


Jagh beder om ursäkt at iag så länge fördröjt at swara på hans bref. Monsieur begär af mig et testimonium om sitt lefwerne och förhållande här wijdh Academien den tijdh han här warit, deslijkes om sine studier och exercicer; hwilken hans rättmätige begäran iag kan mig så mycket mindre undandraga at efterkoma som icke allenast mig, uthan allom här å orten nogsamt kunnigt är, at han här fört et wackert och skickeligit lefwerne, deslijkest moget och wähl idkat sine studier, särdeles studium Eloqventiæ, warandes det dertill et nogsamt klart bewijs, at han ännu, ehuru han en rund tijdh ifrån Academien warit hafwer likwähl hela blad och capitlen af dhe wackraste Autoribus memoriter läsa och upräkna kan. Till samma sina wackra studier har han och tillagt det, hwilket mycket till berömmandes är at han i den angenehmaste konsten ibland alla artes liberales, Musiquen nembl. sigh wähl exercerat och så färdig giort, at iag kan räkna honom för en af dhe Principales, som här iblandh Studenterne uthi Musiquen under min direction warit hafwer. Hwilken berömlig exercice han sedermera, sedan han Academien qvitterat hafwer, eij tillbaka satt, uthan så handhaft, at han på dhe rareste musicaliske Instrumenter, nembl. Luta och Harpa sig öfwat och färdig giort. Kunnandes iagh efter hans begäran eij obilligt här med betyga, det han är den endeste och förste bland studenterne här wijdh detta Kongl: Universitet som sigh med et wackra Instrumentet K: Davids Harpa befattat hafwer, som är så mycket mehr lofwärdt, som han uthan någon anledning eller någors Instruction derpå nådt en wacker perfection. Hwarför förtiänar han med skähl som han och påstår, at han för månge andre som willia heta Musici, ehrnå den Hedren at nämbnas Musicus Literatus.

Upsala d: 14 Junij Ao 1693

förblifwandes städse

M.H. Hans

Tiänstwillige O. Rudbeck.


[Monsieur Pourel.

I apologise for not having answered your letter for so long. Monsieur is asking for a testimony about his behaviour and his conditions at the university during the time he has spent here as well as about his studies and training. This legitimate request I cannot deny him as it is well known not only to me but to all in this place that he has behaved very well and studied in a diligent and mature way, particularly in "studium Eloqventiæ" which is proven by the fact that he, in spite of his absence from the university for quite a long time, still is able to read and enumerate whole pages and chapters by the best authors. To these studies he has also added commendable exercises in the most pleasing of the artes liberales, that is music, to the extent and perfection that I have to mention him among the best of the students in music which have been under my direction. These exercises and skills he has furthermore continued after having left the university and maintained them in such a way that he has exercised and perfected himself on the sweetest of musical instruments, that is the lute and the harp. I can by his request certify that he is the first and only among the students at this university which has dealt with the beautiful musical instrument King David's Harp. This is even more commendable as he, without ground or tuition, has attained perfection on this instrument. He deserves thereby, with his own good reasons, among other musicians to be appointed Musicus Literatus.

Uppsala 14 June 1693

Always remaining obliging

O. Rudbeck][16]


Obviously Pourel had a great talent in music and Rudbeck even calls him one of the leading among his students of music. Already Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie had, as mentioned above, observed Pourel's "exceptionally  beautiful voice". This meant that Pourel could rely upon an active support from Rudbeck, as the latter highly appreciated good musicians. The musical life at the Uppsala University was very rich during the 17th century and Rudbeck was the leading figure. For a long time he strived for an accepted and firm position for the music at the university. There existed a long tradition that the "rector cantus" should twice a week between noon and 1 p.m. give the students tuition in playing musical instruments and in singing. Among the most skilled students of music five singers and five instrumentalists were chosen and should be at disposal for divine services and other solemn occasions. Rudbeck also had many musical instruments both privately and for the university's disposal. In 1685 he had no less than 38 instruments (11 violins or viola da gambas, 8 flutes, 3 shawms, 4 curtals, 8 brass wind instruments, 2 spinets, 1 clavicimbalum and one theorboe) "föruthan lutor, bandorer, citrinkia, Davids harpa, små flöiter och skalmejor som eij pläga brukas i kyrkan [not to mention lutes, pandoras, cittern, David's harp, small flutes and shawms which are not used in the church]".[17] As far as Pourel is concerned the most interesting to him probably were the plucked (theorboe, lute, pandora, cittern and harp) and the keyboard instruments. A great deal of attention was paid to the fact that Pourel played upon a so called "Davids harpa" [David's harp]. What kind of instrument was this? According to the definitions in the dictionaries contemporary with Pourel David's harp was synonymous with psaltery or nablium.[18] The psaltery is a zither plucked by the bare fingers or by a plectrum introduced in Europe during the 11th century and was used in art music until the end of the 16th century.[19] In Germany during the 18th century the word "Davidsharfe" was used to denote the common harp without pedals to differ it from the "Spitzharfe", or the arpanetta, which was a small psaltery in wing shape meant to be placed on a table. One of the few preserved arpanettas is kept at the Skaraborg County Museum in Sweden. Particularly interesting is the fact that this arpanetta is almost contemporary with Pourel.[20] The harp that king David originally played upon probably was a "kinnor" or lyre. It seems likely that the instrument Pourel played was an arpanetta. Later Pourel also was called "harponist" [harp player].


The musicians of the university, of which Pourel probably was an active member, practised in the exercise-room of the dancing-master, but also in the home of Rudbeck where many instruments as shown above and a lot of printed and manuscript music were kept. Smaller "concerts" probably were performed even if the concept of "concert" in this period was unknown in Sweden. The musicians of the university also took part in festival and commemoration days, scientific celebrations and in other academic contexts.[21] Incidentally Pourel during his stay in Uppsala ought to have been acquainted to Johan Arndt Bellman, the grandfather of Carl Michael Bellman, the famous Swedish poet and musician. Johan Arndt Bellman had arrived to the Uppsala University in 1678 and made himself known as a musician and a singer. He played the lute and his copy of Charles Mouton's Pičces de luth, which he bought in Paris in 1699, is now kept in the Musikhistorisk Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Probably in 1683 (the letter is undated but was received on 16 March 1683) Pourel again wrote to de la Gardie and this time with a request for support in getting a so called double scholarship:


Eders Hög Grefl. Excellence för dess högtbewyslige nåds och godhet emot mig sin unga tienare kan iag aldrig tillfyllest berömma eller någon tydh med ödmiukhet aftiäna. Liksom iagh nu wydh Academien stadd i mening att kunna göra migh igenom studier capabel till ett och annat framsteg, så wähl som till Eders Hög Grefl. Excellences tiänst, men för medellöshet ey så kan fortkomma, altderföre Eders Hög Excellence underdånig ödmiukelig bediandes om någon help till dubbelt Stipendium, det enkla hafwer Höglärde Hr Professor Rudbeck för längt sedan hulpiit mig till; dehrefter Eders Högl Excellence nådigt resolverat på min förra ödmiuke supplique at iag först skulle skaffa bewys af wederbörande om min Capacitet, så wysar iag nu här byfogadt Ehrwyrdige Magister Israel Kolmodyns attestatum deröfwer, afwachtar alt derföre Eders Högh Excellences nådige Handräckandes, med ödmiukt förblifwande till min dödsstund

Eder Högl Grefl. Excellences

Ödmiukaste Tiänare Israel Pourel.


[I can never enough or completely praise, nor anytime in all humility reciprocate the favour and benevolence Your Excellency have shown me young servant. I am now at the university in order to make myself capable of some progress through studies as well as to the service of Your Excellency, but I cannot continue as I am destitute of means. I therefore in obedience humbly beseech Your Excellency for some help in order to get a double scholarship. The most learned professor Rudbeck has long ago helped me to get the simple scholarship. After that Your Excellency has graciously decided upon my former request that I should show proof of my capacity and I hereby present the certificate of the Venerable Doctor Israel Kolmydin. I will await the assistance of Your Excellency, humbly remaining until my death

Your Excellency's

humble servant Israel Pourel][22]


The certificate, dated 1681, by Israel Kolmodin, which was enclosed with the letter above, gives some hints about the musician Pourel:


Aldenstundh fordom fransöske språkmästarens Mons: Pourels son Israel Pourel ben:d är till Upsala ankommen i upsåth at här idka sina studier hwar till han icke med medel försedd är uthan förtroor sigh kunna niuta något beneficium till studiernes understödh, allenast någon säkerhet wore om hans Person, studier och qvaliteter kunnig at han wore wärdt at något uppåkåsta och hans upkomst derigenom stodo till förmoda; så hafwer iag efter anmodan icke annat kunnat uthan härmed betyga hwadh som mig om honom kunigit är: Nembl. Uthi Upsala är han en Studiosus af den profect som wäl swarar emot hans ålder, och hafwer synnerlig inclination till studier, hwar till honom icke fattas godh hogh och willia och är af Gudh begåfwadh med särdeles goda naturens gofwor, så at förhoppning är, det han någon märkelig progress derwidh göra kan allenast han icke för medellöshets skull eftersath warder. Derhoos är han och i Musicen färdigh, så at han strax är worden antagen och afhållen widh musicen i Upsala för sin färdighets skull i den konsten. Hwilcket iag här med i sanning attestera will, och skiäligen honom sådant wittnesbörd meddelar der det kunde honom till någon befordring och fromma lända.

Af Upsala den 15 Aprilis A:o 1681

Israel Kolmodin. Fac:Th:Adj:et v.P:Ups:


[The late French language master Monsr. Pourel's son, called Israel Pourel, has arrived to Uppsala in order to pursue his studies for which he does not have the required means. However he hopes to receive some benevolence for the support of his studies if some certainty could be provided that someone who knows his person, his studies, and qualities, could expect that it would be worthwhile spending something on him and his subsistence. By request I cannot deny to certify by this letter what I know about him. In Uppsala he is a student of the standard you would expect from a person of his age and he is very inclined to studies and he does not lack abilities and good intention. He is also by God endowed with particularly excellent natural talents. One may suppose that he may progress in a remarkable way unless he will be neglected through lack of means. In addition to this he is also so skilled in music that he immediately was engaged in the music of Uppsala on account of his capability in that art, which I by this truly will certify and give him a fair testimony which could be useful to him in his promotion and for his benefit.

In Uppsala 15 April 1681

Israel Kolmodin. Fac:Th:Adj:et v.P:Ups:][23]


In the archive of the Uppsala University a letter in Latin from Israel Pourel to professor Laurentio Normanno, dated Stockholm 20 July 1686, is kept. As is shown by the book collection in his estate inventory quoted below it seems reasonable to believe that he mastered his Latin.[24] In another undated letter from Pourel, possibly addressed to de la Gardie, Pourel offers his services to entertain at the court, among other things playing on the David's harp: "så wähl genom Rättwysa som qvaliteter et meriter kunnades iagh elliest dertillmed kanske något contribuera till Hans. Kl: May:tz och dess höga Kl: huset plaisir och contentement medelst presenterande på er Theatre och tracterande af det kostbahreste rareste och betydeligaste musicaliske instrument mener en Kongh Davids Harpa i fall derom skulle påfordras... [as well by justice (?) as skills and qualifications I could also perhaps contribute something to the pleasure and satisfaction of His Royal Majesty and the royal household presenting at your theatre and playing on the most precious, rarest and most important musical instrument, that is a King David's harp in case this should be required...]".[25] However there are no sources confirming that Pourel ever was employed at the royal court and this indicates that his letter did not lead to an engagement.


During his whole life Pourel seems to have lived under difficult economic circumstances. A letter, dated 1 June 1689, from him to his uncle Samuel Agriconius shows that Pourel was in an immediate need of money to pay a debt amounting to "152 Gulldens", equivalent to 300 copper dollar.[26] In the beginning of this article I also mentioned that Bertram Pourel had left a sealed trunk, which he had pawned by the shopkeeper Johan Adlercrona. Not until 20 December 1689 the Inland Revenue Department decided that "Sterbhuuset skall fåå bem:te Coffert" [the estate of Bertram Pourel should receive the aforesaid trunk].[27] The trunk had obviously been transferred to the Palace Chancery and the widow of Bertram Pourel urged fervently that the trunk, with its contents of silver among other things, should be handed out to the heirs. The Court of Appeal therefore decided on 29 March 1690 that "kunnandes Hustru Catharina Grubb... uthföra det bästa hon kan och gitter [the wife Catharina Grubb could carry away the best she can and as she likes]".[28] A receipt is preserved, dated 18 June 1690 and signed by Israel Pourel, his mother and his brother Chrispinus, concerning the consignment from the Palace Chancery of a number of objects of silver (goblets, pots and bowls).[29] These objects probably came from Bertram Pourel's trunk. Israel Pourel's mother did not benefit much from the silver as she died on 26 November 1690. Her new husband Christoffer von Bergen died much later, in 1719, as a mayor of Norrköping. Moreover in his estate inventory "1 luta med foder [one lute with case]" is mentioned.[30]


From 1695 there are a few entries concerning a lawsuit which Pourel had against a Mrs. Maria Bader about a clavichord. According to the minutes from this lawsuit Israel Pourel had lent his clavichord to a friend of his, the student Jacob Forster, who in his turn and in connection with his depart from Stockholm had left it with Maria Bader. Maria Bader was not willing to part with the clavichord until Pourel had proven that he really was the owner of it. As witnesses Pourel summoned Jacob Nordenstedt and Johan von Bergen who affirmed that the clavichord really belonged to Pourel. The court also decided that Pourel should get the clavichord back.[31] Johan von Bergen was the brother of Christopher von Bergen, who in his turn was Israel Pourel's stepfather. At this time Johan von Bergen served as treasurer at the admiralty. Jacob Nordenstedt possibly was a fellow student to Pourel and was in the mid 1690s employed at the Board of Administration and the National Archives.


About 1697 a correspondence started between Pourel and the authorities concerning an assignation on Lars Månsson Falkensten's salary amounting to 600 copper dollar. It was probably the son of Lars Månsson Falkensten, Matthias Larsson, who had assaulted Bertram Pourel to death in 1667. Israel Pourel claimed for the assignation on Lars Månsson Falkensten's salary, which the Inland Revenue Department already on 2 May 1667 had given to the surveyor-general of customs Drakenhielm. On 26 July 1697 the Government dealt with a petition from Pourel and on 9 July 1698 the public prosecutor Hoffren investigates a new petition from "Studenten och Harponisten H:r Israel Pourel [the student and harp-player Mr. Israel Pourel]" and states that Pourel cannot be considered to be entitled to the assignation. This was also the decision of the Government on 31 October 1698. Following this decision Pourel in 1699-1700 wrote a long petition, filled with digressions, Latin quotations and with references to Roman law. He obviously was well prepared concerning the subject. Pourel demanded in grandiloquent words to get the assignation of 600 copper dollar as well as to get the 300 Rixdollar which "för min S: faders giorde upwachtning wid det Kongl: Hofwet i Hennes Högst S: M:tz Drotning Christinas tydh, af hwilken han till fransösk Hoffspråkmästare kalladh blef, för mig innestående warit... [have been deposited for me on account of my late father's attendance at the Royal court in the time of the late queen Christina, by whom he was appointed French language master of the court]" According to Pourel the money was intended for a "Musicalisch Kong Davids Harpa [a musical King David's harp]". In this context Pourel also got the opportunity to refer to his musical activities in Uppsala: "... iag den endeste in Seminario Regni Academien warit, som dette musicalische Instrumentet [Davidsharpan] tractera weet uthom det notorium ähr, så bewyser iagh sådant med den Högwyrdige, Höglärde och uthi Republica Literaria mycket nambnkunnige H:r Doctor Olof Rudbeckij... wittnesmåhl... [... being the only one in the seminar of the university who knows how to play this musical instrument ... which is also proven by the testimony of the venerable, most learned and in the literary society most renowned Mr. Doctor Olof Rudbeckij]". Subsequently Pourel quoted from the letter above by Rudbeck dated 1693. The six pages long letter from Pourel never seems to have been dealt with by the Government.[32]


According to his estate inventory Israel Pourel died on 26 December 1707. He was buried in the S. Klara churchyard, which indicates that he had lived in the district of Norrmalm in Stockholm but further particulars are missing. The estate inventory after Pourel was not made until 4 May 1709 and it contains among other things 57 books, among them Olof Rudbeck's Atlantica, a Swedish hymn-book and "4 St. Speelböcker med noter [four music copy-books]". The latter were of no value according to the estate administrator. It is odd, when one considers that Pourel was a musician, that no a single musical instrument is noted in the inventory. Perhaps he had been forced to sell or pawn them earlier. It could be of some interest to reproduce the whole estate inventory as it gives some hints of Pourel and the conditions under which he had lived:


Anno 1709 den 4 May, närwarande effter det lofl. Justitia Collegij förordning Rådman Hr Adolf Norden och Notarien Gabriel Pontin, inwenterades och wärderades den Qwarlåtenskap som fans effter Sal. Israel Pourel, som den 26 Dec:r 1707 är blefwen dödh, till rättelse för dess Arfwingar /: dem dock ingen wiste namngifwer /: så och Creditorer. Närwarande Borgaren och Slacktaren Matz Suneson med dess fullmechtige Hr Camrer Seurman. Och befans som effterföllier Nembl:


[In the year 1709 on May 4th, the property left by the late Israel Pourel, who died on 26 December 1707, was registered and valued in the presence of the member of the Magistrate's Court the city court judge Mr. Adolf Norden and the clerk Gabriel Pontin, both appointed by the Department of Justice, to the observance of the heirs (which no one knew by name) as well as the creditors. The citizen and butcher Matz Suneson with his delegate the accountant Mr. Seurman. And the following was found namely:


Böcker [Books]


Ol. Rudbecki Atlantica med taflorne tom:1: [Olof Rudbecks Atland eller Manhem... Uppsala 1679]

Jacob Äyrun Historiepher pro, uhius junis

Opera Ciceronis omnia

Wang... Horol:principium

Jo: Linnai Not:regni Fracice tom. 2 [Linnæus, Johann. Notitia regni Francice. Argentorati 1655]

Rättegångz process 1615

J. Lipsy de militia Romano [Lipsius, Justus, De militia romana... Antwerpiæ olika upplagor 1596, 1598, 1602]

Th. Dempsteri a ... antiqvitates romana

L. Florus [Florus Lucius Annæus, Rerum Romanarum, olika utgåvor med varierande titlar]

Schrawely Lexicon Gr:Lat: [Schrevelius, Cornelius Lexicon manuale græco-latinum... Lipsiæ 1707]

J. Barclay Argenis [Barclay, John, Argenis. 1659, 1664]

Amirati differt:e politica [Ammirato, Scipione, ... disertationes politicæ... Francoforti 1618]

Disputationes Philosoph:

G. Ens Thesaurus Politicus

Acraly arithmetica [Agrelius, Nicolaus, Institutiones arithmeticæ... Stockholm 1700]

Commentarius de regno adversus Machiavellum

C. Ruperti Florus illustratus

D. Martini Gram: Gallica [Grammatica gallica... Argentorati 1619]

V. Maximi memorabilia

J. Locceny jus maritimum [Johannes Loccenius]

B. Gracian Homi de cour [Gracian, Baltasar, L'homme de cour...Paris 1684?]

Gramatica Lat: Germ

Bocoleri Instit: Politica

D:o in Tacitum

Volumen disputationum

Raggwali di Parnasso

Joh: Hornæ i Retorica

Fabula Phædri

Insitit: Logicæ

Swänske Psalmbook

Rudimenta Logica

Landz och Stadzlagen

G. Cieglery Weldt-Spiegel

Le ministre d'Estat

3 yppersta Ertz Narrar

... Logica

V. Maxini memorabilia

M. Hesenthaly Athleta polit.

Sawedra idea Principis

E. Wasenbergy Panegyricus

J. Locceny Synopsis junis

A. Itteri Ethica

Nov. testam: gallicum

Schonborneri Politica

Fr. de Fernes gramatica [De Fernes, Franįois, Institutio linguæ gallicæ... 1690, 1700]

B. Dyk idea politica

H. Grotie traite de la verite etc [Hugo Grotius]

Er. Roterdamus colloquia

Ciceronis Officia

B. Stellari Zodiæus vita

Waltheri gramatica

Instit: Iustiani

Danæ i Aphorismi

Aristot: problemata

Introductio ad patientiam manuductio ad coelum

Cornelius Tacitus

Conseil privé

4 st. Speelböcker med noter [four music copy-books]

Summa [The total sum of] 52:30


Åtskillige Saker [Different things]


1 räckbålster med fiäder [one featherbed]

3 st. Örngått med huller och håår [three whole pillow cases]

1 fäll med öfwerdrag [one skin rag with cover]

1 bord [one table]

1 ståndsäng [one bed]

1 bordtäcke gl [gammal] [one table cover, old ]

1 eldgaffel [one poker]

3 st. trästolar söndrige [three chairs, broken ]

1 lyten spegel gl [one and small mirror, old]

1 gl brun råck [one old brown coat]

1 toffel färgad d:o [one coloured slipper do]

1 gl Callmine... wäst [an old Callmine waistcoat]

1 gl brun wäst [an old brown waistcoat]

1 p:r gl byxor [a pair of old trousers]

1 p:r gl handskar [a pair of old gloves]

2 st. gl peruquer [two old wigs]

2 p:r Strumpor [two pairs of socks]

1 skiorta [one shirt]

2 st. d:o gl 1 lakan [two old do, one sheet]

1 sarviet [one napkin]

1 halsduuk, 1 p:r ärmar [one muffler, one pair of sleeves]

1 Eldföresask [one tinder-box]


Åtskillige Skriffter och pappirer uti concept [Several publications and documents in draught]

Summa [The total sum of] 27:-


Summa Inv. [The sum total of effects]                              Summa 80:-


Afgår [Deductions]


Förmyndar Cam:ns provision effter Kongl. M:z förordning [The commission of the Chamber of Guardianship according to the ordinance of the Government]

Sammaledes fattigpenningar [Likewise parish fund]

Slaktaren Mattz Suneson fordran för resterande huushyra effter rächning [The claims of the butcher Mattz Suneson for the balance of the rent]                                           Summa [The total sum of] 513:17


Alldenstund Betalande Skulden wijda öfwergår egedombssumman, ty är intet öfrigit och i beholdh för Arfwingarne, blifwandes förskrefwen egendomb lemnader Matz Suneson i händer emot dess hafvande fordran... [As the debts to a great extent exceed the value of the property and nothing else is left for the heirs-at-law, the described property was left to Matz Suneson against his claims][33]



A page from the estate inventory after Israel Pourel, Stockholms stadsarkiv, Rådhusrätten och magistraten, Justitiekollegiet 1724/1

Inventariebok f. 158-161v showing that Pourel had owned four music copy-books.


The value of the property was 80 copper dollar, upon which the butcher Mats Sunesson had a claim for more than 513 copper dollar for rent. Pourel accordingly died destitute and in great debt. All the property was left to Mats Sunesson. The collection of books indicates Pourel's knowledge of languages, but part of it may have been inherited from his father Bertram and his brothers. At least Pourel seems to have mastered both French and Latin. The other seedy property shows that Pourel lived in poverty and in the case he had any relatives still alive none of them bothered to look after their rights of inheritance. Anyway, Pourel's name was known in Stockholm at the turn of the century 1600-1700 and most probably through his musical activities. However we have almost no information about that with the exception of a small funeral poem. In his book "Små-Saker Til Nöje och Tidsfördrif [Small Pieces for Pleasure and Pastime]" Bengt Bergius quotes a "liten Grafskrift öfwer en Musicant wid namn Lorell, som dog i Stockholm 1708 [little funeral poem about a musician by the name of Lorell, who died in Stockholm in 1708]". This Lorell may be identical with Israel Pourel due to a misspelling and Bergius quotes:


Nu lägges ned i ro den mången rolig giorde.

Fast han sin Lute-klang med tårar ofta mängt,

Och på en Babel pil sin harpa afwog hängt,

Man honom uti lag dock altid nöjd försporde.


Så gick det med Lorell, som androm, de der lära

Sin konst fullkomligt ut: han altid spela fick

För dem, som uti dans för Lyckans pipa gick,

Fast han med tunger fot måst Tidsens öde bära.


[Now he who has made so many merry is buried,

Although he often mingled the sound of his lute with tears,

And on an arrow of Babel he has hung his harp on the wrong side,

You always knew that he in company was pleased.


This is what happened to Lorell, as it did with others

Who completely taught their art: he always was asked to play,

For those who danced to the whistle of happiness,

Although he heavy-footed had to carry the Fate of the age.][34]


On 9 December 1709 the grave of "Israel Pouril och hans broder [Israel Pourel and his brother]" at the S. Klara churchyard for unknown reasons was opened.[35]


In the beginning of this article I mentioned that a part of the lute tablature manuscript Wenster G 34 in the Lund University Library has the heading "Lutenisten Pourels i Stockholm stycken på fölljande 4 arken [the pieces of Pourel, lutenist in Stockholm, on the following four sheets]".[36] With these four sheets are probably meant 25 pages of the manuscript (fol. 40-52]. They have the following musical contents written in French lute tablature for an 11-course lute in the d-minor-tuning (A d f a d' f', unless otherwise specified)[37]:







Gavotte [Unique?]


Gavotte. C'est l'amour [qui nous menace. Jean Baptiste Lully, Roland, Prologue LWV 65/13. Many concordances in Swedish   sources.]


Gique de [Valentin] Strobel [Many concordances in Swedish sources.]


Gavotte [Vieux Gautier, Courante l'immortelle CLF, no. 66. Many concordances in Swedish sources.]


Gavotte [de luth de Mademoiselle Königsmark. Several concordances in Swedish sources.]


Gavotte [Unique?][38]


[Without title, Sarabande? ABB'; last three bars of B' should be identical to B. Unique?]


[Siö Combatt = Combat naval. Concordances S-L G 34 ff. 9-10 and S-Klm 21068 f. 4


[Without title, Sarabande? Unique?]


Gavotte G mole [Unique?]


Gavotte d'Appolon [Jean-Baptiste Lully, Psyché, Act V, LWV 45/25]


[Without title, Gigue. Suites faciles 1703, no. 12]


Sarabande [Pinel, CLF no. 66. Tuning A d f# a d' f#']


Gavotte [Tuning A d f# a d' f#'. Unique?]


[Without title, Allemande or Courante?. Tuning A d f# a d' f'. Unique?]


[Sarabande J. Mercure. Corrupt version of CLF no. 16]


Sarabande [Unique?]


[Without title, Courante. Denis Gaultier CLF no. 99 or Vieux Gautier CLF no. 27]


Courante la belle Homicide [Denis Gaultier CLF no. 89 or Vieux                Gautier CLF no. 19]


[Menuet, lacking seven last bars. Concordance CZ-Pu Kk.73, p. 41 and several other Austrian and Bohemian sources for lute and guitar][39]


La belle Homicide. Courante de M: Goutier [Copied from Charles Mouton's Pičces de luth including many l.h. fingerings]


Double de la belle homicide [Charles Mouton, CLF no. 7, copied from Pičces de luth including the faulty chords at the end!]


Courante C dur [Gaultier?. Several keyboard and lute concordances in Swedish sources]


Chiaconne de Montespan [Jacques Gallot, CLF no. 25]


[Aria , Johann Anton Losy, Vogl no. 72 in JLSA 1981]


Sarabande [Unique?]


[Courante, Pinel CLF no. 47 or Bocquet CLF no. 14]


Gavotte C Dur [Concordances in two other Swedish sources]


Sarabande [Air pour les nymphes et les zephirs. Concordances in three other Swedish sources]


Accord F mole par Octaves


Whether or not there are any original compositions by Pourel in the manuscript cannot be confirmed even if there at the present state of knowledge seems to be a few unique pieces (nine in total), which may have been composed by Pourel.[40] Otherwise much of the contents is common repertoire found in many lute tablature manuscripts from the 17th and the beginning 18th century. The contents also mirrors the repertoire that was popular in Sweden at this time. In fact some of the pieces (La belle homicide, C'est l'amour..., Strobel's Gique, Courante l'Immortelle, Combat naval) belong to the ten most popular pieces in Sweden during the Great Power Period.[41] It is hardly likely that Pourel directly was involved with the manuscript as it probably not was completed until the 1710s, that is after Pourel's death. On the other hand there is a strong connection with another lute tablature manuscript in the Lund University Library with the shelve mark Wenster G 37. Both manuscripts were parts of the big collection of music which formerly belonged to the conductor and organist Emanuel Wenster. It is probably the same person who has written the manuscripts Wenster G 34 and G 37. They have similar contents and the Danish lutenist Daniel Holst is mentioned in both manuscripts. In Wenster G 37 there is also an owner's signature: P:P: Platin Malmöö den 30 Novemb: Ao 1712. Peter Platin (c. 1670 - 1754) was a doctor and a chemist. He may have owned both manuscripts and be the person who has written them during his stay in Malmö in the 1710s, when he cared for people struck by the plague. After Platin had moved to Medevi to become chemist at the Medevi Spa. the manuscripts perhaps remained in the Malmö-Lund region and were taken care of by musicians there. I have not been able to find any connections whatsoever between Pourel and Platin. The other lutenist mentioned in the manuscripts, Daniel Holst, became burgher in Copenhagen in 1691 as a "Fiologamist [viola da gamba-player]".[42] Nor seems there to be any connection between Pourel and Holst. These lute tablature manuscripts are of a particular importance as they belong to the very few in Sweden which in some way can be connected with professional musicians. There is no obvious explanation to the fact that the lute pieces of Pourel are to be found in this particular manuscript. Its provenance place it a long way from Stockholm where Pourel lived during the later part of his life. We also lack other musical traces of this poor but obviously talented musician from the Great Power Period of Sweden.






This article was first published in Luths et luthistes en Occident - actes du colloque 13-15 mai 1998. Paris 1999, pp. 217-233.


[1] I am greatly indebted to the late Åke Högman, whose excerpts and notes are the foundation of this article. Bengt Kyhlberg's collection of excerpts in Svenskt musikhistoriskt arkiv has also provided much information. This article was first published (in Swedish) in [Gitarr och Luta 25/1992 No. 2 s. 49-57] and is also available in Swedish on Internet at

[2] On Niewerth see Hinrich Niewerth - Lutenist at the Royal Swedish Court in The Lute XXIV Part 2, 1984, pp. 69-75.

[3] Israel Pourel is not mentioned in Erik Kjellberg's dissertation on the music at the Swedish court ca 1620 - ca 1720, Kungliga musiker i Sverige under stormaktstiden. Vol 1-2, Uppsala 1979.

[4] COURT ET DROIT SENTIER A la LANGUE FRANĮOISE thet är: En Rätt Gånge-Wägh eller Geenstigh. Till thett FRANSÖSKE eller FRANSYSKE Språåket. Par BARTH: POUREL DE HATRIZE. A STOCKHOLM, Chez JEAN JEANSSON. ANNO 1650. This was reprinted in 1690, but no copy has been located. DEO. REGI & AMICIS TABVLA RUDIMENTORUM LINGUE GALLICÆ FUNDAMENTALIUM.... BARTHOLOMÆO POURELIO. VPSALIÆ Excudit Henricus Curio S.R.M. & Acad. Vpsal. Biblioph. 1664.

[5] The surname Pourel has also been located to the villages Baccarat in Meurte-et-Moselle and Corcieux in Vosges. I have not been able to locate it to any other places.

[6] Ravenelle, M. Hatrize et son histoire. S.l.s.d.

[7] Riksarkivet, Svea hovrätt EVIa 2aa:181

[8] Stockholms stadsarkiv, Norre Förstadz Protocoll Anno 1668; Rådhusets arkiv: rannsakningar 1668; Rådhusrätten, protokoll i kriminalmål 1668. Riksarkivet, Biographica P:23

[9] Stockholms stadsarkiv Bouppteckningar 1668:221

[10] Stockholms gatunamn, Stockholm 1982 p. 151

[11] Riksarkivet, De la Gardieska samlingen , serie C:I

[12] Kjellberg, E. 'Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie och musiken' in Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie. Skövde 1980 pp. 73ff.

[13] Kyhlberg, B. Musiken i Uppsala under stormaktstiden. 1. Uppsala 1974 p. 285.

[14] Riksarkivet, De la Gardieska samlingen. Ser C:1. E1527

[15] Uppsala universitets arkiv F Va:. Uppsala universitets matrikel I-III. Uppsala 1900.

[16] Riksarkivet, Biographica P:23

[17] Norlind, T. 'Musiken i Uppsala under 1600-talet' in Kult och konst 1908 pp. 37f.

[18] Walin, S. 'Musikinstrumenttermer i äldre svenska lexikon' in Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning 1948 p. 17.

[19] Sohlmans musiklexikon 5. Stockholm 1979 p. 125.

[20] Vi äro musikanter alltifrån Skaraborg. Falköping 1983 pp. 160f.

[21] Moberg, C-A., 'Olof Rudbeck d.ä. och musiken' in Rudbecksstudier. Festskrift... Uppsala 1930 pp. 176ff. Norlind, T. 'Musiken i Uppsala under 1600-talet' in Kult och konst 1908 pp. 29ff.

[22] Riksarkivet, De la Gardieska samlingen C:1 E1527

[23] Riksarkivet De la Gardieska samlingen C:1 E1527

[24] Uppsala universitetsbibliotek G191

[25] Riksarkivet Biographica P:23

[26] Riksarkivet Biographica P:23

[27] Riksarkivet Kammarkollegiet kansliet A Ia:64 p. 3497

[28] Riksarkivet Svea hovrätt Utslag B III a 1:7

[29] Riksarkivet, Biographica P:23

[30] Vadstena landsarkiv, Norrköpings rådhusrätt och magistrat, bouppteckningar 1717, vol 1, p. 427

[31] Stockholms stadsarkiv, Stockholms Norre Förstads Civilprotokoll 1695, p. 747 (13/129) and p. 755 (19/12).

[32] Uppsala universitets arkiv, X 240 (Pourel)

[33] Stockholms stadsarkiv, Rådhusrätten och magistraten, Justitiekollegiet 1724/1 Inventariebok  f. 158-161v

[34] Bergius, Bengt, Små-Saker Til Nöje och Tidsfördrif. Fjerde Delen. Stockholm 1756 p. 66

[35] Stockholms stadsarkiv, Klara församlings räkenskaper 1709, kvitto nr 298

[36] Rudén, J.O. Music in tablature. Stockholm 1981 pp. 30f

[37] I am greatly indebted to Franįois-Pierre Goy for his invaluable help in identifying the pieces in the manuscript.

[38] This Gavotte actually begins on the second and third staffs of fol. 42 and continues and ends on the fourth staff of fol. 41v. This discrepancy has not been observed by Rudén in his Music in tablature. Stockholm 1981 p. 31. I'm grateful to Franįois-Pierre Goy for this information.

[39] This Menuet has not been observed by Rudén I'm grateful to Franįois-Pierre Goy for this information.

[40] Incipits to the unique works are given in the appendix

[41] Rudén, J.O. Stormaktstidens 10 i topp in Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning 58/1976, pp. 25ff

[42] Nielsen, O. Kjöbenhavns Historie og Beskrivelse. V: Kjöbenhavn i Aarene 1660-1699 p. 337

Š Kenneth Sparr