Lutenists at the Royal Court

of King Gustavus I of Sweden


by Kenneth Sparr


Stockholm, Sweden 1998 (Updated 2010-05-26)


Kenneth Sparr«s Page


My starting-point is Benedict de Drusina's lute tablature book Tabulatura continens insignes et selectissimas qvasdam fantasias, published in 1556.[1] Benedictus dedicated his book to Erico Gustavus Electo Regi Svecorum, Gothorum et Vandalorum, who in 1560 succeeded Gustavus I and was crowned Eric XIV of Sweden. The records says: €r och geffuith en benempd benedichtus v tru§enn for en lute boch hann haffuer dediceret min nŒdige herre hertig Erich Dalar 15 stycker [is also given to benedichtus v tru§enn 15 Dollar for a lute book he has dedicated to my lord duke Eric].[2] The reasons for this dedication could be that Benedictus had some connections with Sweden and that he also knew of King Eric's interest in music. It is even probable that Eric played the lute. We know that in 1552 he ordered two lutes and the following year had four lute books bound fšr hans NŒdes behov [for the needs of His Lordship]. Later on, in 1561, he ordered no fewer than seven new lutes and from an inventory of his library, dated 1568, we learn that he then owned Lute bšker 2 i gult inbundne oc fšrgylte [two lute books bound in yellow (parchment?) and gilded].[3]


Be that as it may, in this context it is more interesting to look at a piece of music in Benedictus' book, namely Wer wolt ihr in ehren nicht sein holt. This piece is attributed to a H. Hofman and to my knowledge is the only music known by this composer.[4] In his history of the lute and lute music in Prussia, Hans-Peter Kosack suggests that Hofman was a lutenist from Danzig, and, more precisely, Kaspar Hofmann.[5] Kosack had good reasons for this assumption. Benedictus de Drusina Elbingensis was certainly born in the Drausensee region, quite close to Elbing, an important city about 50 kilometres east of Danzig. Benedictus' book also contains a piece by Hans Wilde, another musician from Danzig, as well as a piece by Valentin Bakfark, who visited Danzig on at least two occasions: the first around 25 January 1552 and the second time probably from 8 July until 30 August 1552 accompanying the Polish king. Bakfark also visited Kšnigsberg 13-19 September the same year.[6]. All this suggests that Benedictus had close contact with musical life in Danzig.


But is H. Hofman really identical with Kaspar Hofmann? There was at least one other lutenist by the name of Hofmann (Hovemann) active in Danzig during the 16th century: Nikles.[7] Benedictus' abbreviation, H., of Hofman's Christian name could of course be a simple misprint - if not I cannot see any reason why H. should have been used for Kaspar and Nikles.[8] Instead I would like to put forward another hypothesis: that H. Hofman could be Hieronymus Hoffmann, a lutenist at the Swedish court in the 16th century.


Hieronymus Hoffmann

In 1529 a cithareda regius by the name of Hieronimus was employed at the Hofkapelle in Krakow, Poland.[9] Whether this Hieronimus is identical with Hieronymus Hoffmann is however difficult to establish. The name Hieronimus appears is in the Treasurer's Account Book of 1532 from the Swedish court. Salaries were then paid to the lutenists Stor [big]  Jeronimus [big Jeronimus] and Lille Jeronimus [little Jeronimus].[10] This implies a father/son relationship, which interestingly enough will reappear much later on. Before I return to Hieronymus I should give a background to the music at the Swedish court. King Gustavus I (c. 1496-1560) had begun to form a Hofkapelle in the mid 1520s and was himself quite interested in music. A close relative to the king wrote the following in 1532:


Musicam hade konungen stor lust thill att hšra, bŒde meneschelige stemmer och igšnom goda och lustige jnstrumenter; hade ock icke allenast god juditium ther om til at dšma, wtan war och sielff en artist ther wthj bŒde thil at siunga och spela. Eblandt alla jnstrumenther hšltt han luthan fšr then liuffligaste. och war jingen den aftan, nŠhr han war ensamen, wtan han šffuade sig iw ther wpŒ.[11] [The king was very fond of listening to music, both through human voices and through good and merry instruments. He could not only pass a good judgement about music but he was also skilled in both singing and playing. Among instruments he considered the to be the loveliest and every evening when he was alone he practised upon it.]


Trade relations were well established between Stockholm and the hanseatic cities during the sixteenth century. Among the more important of these cities was Danzig. In this context it is worth noting that a ship from Stockholm stranded on the Samland coast in 1536. This ship, which belonged to a merchant from Danzig, was rediscovered in 1934. Among the finds were some documents and in these a few pieces of music in French tablature were written down.[12]


The next time we meet the name Hieronymus is in records from Danzig. In the so-called BrŸderbŸcher of the SchwarzhŠupter-society the following paragraph is to be found:


1533 sprachen zwei BrŸder Ÿber die Kunst des Lauteschlagens. Der eine machte sich heischig sie bald zu erlernen, wenn er in einem Jahre die Motette, die in dem Buch des LauteschlŠgers Jeronimus verzeichnet stehe, nach der Tablatur auf der Laute schlagen kšnnte, so solte er fŸr 1 Horn gulden 100 wieder erhalten.[13] [In 1533 two Brother discussed the art of lute playing. One of them wanted to learn it soon. If he, in one year's time, could read tablature and play on the lute the motets written down in the book of the lute player Jeronimus, so should he for 1 'Horn gulden' get 100.]


From this paragraph we may conclude that there existed a book of lute music, containing at least motets, written (and composed?) by a lutenist called Jeronimus. Unfortunately, the Swedish Treasurer's Account Books of the sixteenth century are incomplete and even lacking some years, but in the book of 1534 (1533 is missing) we again find the name Hieronymus: Jeronimus Lutenista.[14] Since only one Hieronymus is mentioned, either the ÒbigÓ or the 'littleÓ Hieronymus left service at the Swedish court, probably in 1533. One Hieronymus reappears in the books of 1536 and 1537 (1535 is missing). There is a gap between 1538 and 1540, either due to incomplete Account Books or due to Hieronymus' absence from court service. In 1540 a ÒJšrgen HoffmanÓ is mentioned, but it seems rather uncertain to identify him with Hieronymus.[15]


Returning to Danzig we find an interesting paragraph in the 1540 records of the City Archive:


Verstoruen erflass gelt xd.: Item VI m am VIII Aprilis entpfh. von Hieronimus dem lutensleger tyns vom halven Jahre - - - 6 mrg.[16]


Could this be one of the two who served at the Swedish court? This seems plausible considering the date and the fact that there are no fewer than three other lutenists connected with Danzig and the Swedish court and on top of everything else with the same surname as Hieronymus: Hoffmann. Their Christian names are Nikles, Caspar and Cornelius.


Nikles Hovemann

The first to be mentioned in the Danzig records is Nikles Hovemann. He was a lutenist and acquired burghership of Danzig in 1537.[17] In 1541 King Gustavus I recruited Òa good lutenist from Danzig, Nils HoffmanÓ.[18] Nils appears under the Christian names Nicolaus, Niclas, Nicles, Niclis and he also played the harp. 1553 the following is noted:


10 juli. Efter K M befallning blev Niclas harpenist betald fšr lutor och gigor h K M av honom undfick. Fšr 6 lutor stycket 6 daler, och fšr en stor luta 8 daler. Item fšr 5 vŠlska gigor tillhopa 20 daler, ock fšr lutstrŠngar 1 daler. Lšper tillhopa daler 65 st (10 July. (After the commandment from His Royal Majesty Niclas harpist was paid for lutes and fiddles which His Majesty had got from him. For 6 lutes 6 daler a piece, and for a big lute 8 daler. Item for 5 welsch fiddles together 20 daler, and also for lute strings. Together daler 65.)[19]


Niclas was probably not in the service of the king for more than short periods. He also occupied himself with other activities. In 1544 he received the king's permission to carry on business and he was granted exemption from payment of duty.[20] He traded in wine and spices, but the king was not altogether satisfied:


Vij haffve och fšrnercht stoortt bedrŠgerij och skalckheter opŒ thett vijn Conradt [frŒn Danzig] medt Nicles Harpenisth hijt sendt hade.[21] [We have also noticed extensive cheating and roguishness in the wine that Conradt [from Danzig] has consigned with Nicles Harpist.]


Niclas Hoffmann appears in a letter, dated 1557, from King Gustavus I to Count Per Brahe:


Vij vele eder och icke fšrholle, att vij haffve inthitt synnerligen behagh till then Nicles Harpeniste, ty vij haffve fšrnummett att han icke mykitt foodrer vŒre saker, nŠhr han Šhr i Danske.[22] [Also, we wouldn't keep you from the knowledge that we are not particularly pleased with Niclas Harpist as we have found that he, when he visits Danzig, does not much carry our interests.]


In 1561 the following is noted:


DŠrfšr haver han (Nicolaus Hoffman) levererat: 23 juli anno etc 61: Till jurgen heide lutenist: lutor/stycket: 4 daler/ 5 st fšr 80 mark; lutor /stycket: 6 daler/  1 st fšr 24 mark. Lšper penningar 104 mark (Therefore he (Nicolaus Hoffman) has delivered on 23 July 1561 to jurgen heide lutenist: lute a piece: 4daler/ 5 pieces amounting to 80 mark; lutes/ a piece: 6 daler/ 1 piece for 24 mark. Amounting to 104 marks)[23]


I think that all the evidence suggests that the lutenist Nikles Hovemann is identical with Nils Hoffman, alias Niclas Harpist. It is also a good indication of the close communication between Danzig and the Swedish capital, Stockholm.


Cornelius Hoffmann

Another lutenist well documented in Swedish records is Cornelius Hoffmann. He was employed at the Swedish court in 1536 and appears quite regularly in the Treasurer's Account Books from this year until 1544 as Cornelij Luthenist.[24] In 1539 the king issued a renewed letter of appointment in which we find Cornelius' full name and some other interesting information:


Wij Gustaff etc Gšre witterligit, ock Bekennes mett thetta wortt špne breff Atuj sŒ wtšffuer een warit haffue, mett thenne oss elskelig tro tijenere Corenlius Hoofman, ath han her effter, som till thenne tiidh, och sŒ lenge oss och honum nšger, fšr en Lutinist, troligen och eerligen tiena skall... Hans skall och forplictig wara, fliteligen, och effter then rette kunst, ath lŠre then dreng, bŒde pŒ Luthe och harpe, som wij till honom satt haffue.. Ther emott haffue wij loffuad och tilsagt honum till szin Œrlige fortiŠniste, then same besoldungh, som han till thenne tiidh, aff oss hafft haffuer, som Šr eth hundrade marc šrtuger och 20 alner clede Œrlige...[25] [We, Gustavus etc, make it hereby known and acknowledge with this open letter that we have agreed with our beloved and faithful servant Cornelius Hoffman, that he hereafter, as up to now, and as long as it pleases us and him, shall serve loyally and honestly as lutenist... He shall also be obliged, diligently and after the true art, to instruct the boy, that we have entrusted to him, both upon the lute and the harp... In return for this we have promised and told him that he for his annual salary will have the same as before, which is one hundred marks ҚrtugerÓ and 20 ells of cloth...]


We know the name of Cornelius' pupil: Bertil Larsson. He was evidently a Swede and I will return to him.[26] In other Account Books there are a few entries which give some information about the lutenist's equipment: Item Cornelius Lutenisten till ath betecka luthorna medt ffšr wattn - i oxahud [Item Cornelius Lutenist for covering the lutes against water - 1 oxhide] or Item Cornelius Luteniste anamadhe till att bedrage Šffwer sin Kiste sŒsom Lutherne lŒghe nedhi - Oxehudh 1 st [Item Cornelius Lutenist received one oxhide to cover the chest where his lutes are kept].[27]


During the period from c. 1541 until 1544 three lutenists were employed at the same time at the Swedish court: Niclas, Cornelius and Hieronymus Hoffmann. In 1542 the three lutenists each received two silver marks from the king ath lathe sig gšra upŒ thz flitigiste huardera fšr sig hans Kon. Matz. wapnn utŒff [out of which they each should for himself diligently have made the arms of His Royal Majesty]Ó.[28] In 1544 Cornelius resigned and the Treasurer's Account Book the following is recorded: Cornelius luteniste hans ŒŒr bliffuer uthe item 3 maij anno 44 mŒ giffs honom hans utgŒngspenningar - 100 mark [Cornelius lutenis his year will come to and end and item 3 May anno 44 he may be given his terminal pay - 100 marks].[29]


Caspar Hoffmann

CorneliusÕ successor as lutenist at the Swedish court was Caspar. According to the Treasurer's Account Book a Casper lutensleger was employed from 14 September 1544, with a salary of 50 marks a year. His surname was Hoffmann and he seems to have stayed at the Swedish court until 1546.[30] It is not stated where he came from, but again there are some interesting records from Danzig which may be of significance. In 1549 the lute-maker Kaspar Hovemann acquired burghership in that city and much later, in 1569, a Caspar hofman ein lautenist... in Dantzig glaubhafftich Zeugbar Mann is mentioned.[31]


Bertil Larsson

After Cornelius Hoffmann left the Swedish court service he went to Danzig and from there he wrote a letter to King Gustavus' secretary Klemeth Hansson. In it Cornelius asks Klemetth to give Bertil Larsson some help:


... ganz freunlich bittende Noch dem euch gotten benenst der abredung halb was belangen ist die verhaistung von wegen meins jungen barthelmeus wellent dz selbig in kein vergessen stellen vnd zu bequemer zeØtt bey der Kon. Mtn. vorderen helffen... Dantzigk de - MaØ Juny Anno - 1544 Cornely Hofman Lauttenist.[32] [...kindly requesting... you not to forget my boy Barthelmeus and to promote his interests with his Royal Highness at the appropriate time... Danzig 13 June 1544 Cornelij Hoffman Lutenist.




Letter from Cornelius Hoffmann to King Gustavus I concerning Bertil Larsson.


This letter is the last sign we have of Cornelius and the only source, which connects him with Danzig. He does not appear at all in the city records. However, Cornelius' letter probably had some effect, for already in 1544 is noted Item haver K M skŠnkt Bertiil Lutensleger till att kšpa strŠngar fšr. Penningar 4 mark  (item jas his royal majesty given Bertil lute player to buy lute strings. 4 mark). In 1545 the king had ordered 2 lute cases to be made and the notice tells us: Item Jšrn Knifuesmed haver undfŒtt fšr 2 lutor han gjorde fodral uppŒ, vilka Bertil Luteslagare anammat haver. Penningar 2 mark (Item Jšrn Cutler received for two lutes for which he had made cases, which Bertil lute player have got. 2 mark).[33] In 1545 Bertil luteslagere is mentioned in the Treasurer's Account Book together with Hieronymus and Caspar Hoffmann. Bertil's salary is much lower than those of the other two lutenists, but it is quite clear that he was employed as lutenist between 1545 and 1546.[34] In the next year, 1547, the king's registry contains the following passage:


Datum Gripzholm 4 Julij Anno 47. WŒr gunst etc. Weeter Niels Pedersonn och Bottwedt, att w[i] thenne Bertill Luteniste gunsteligen haffwe fšrloffwedt pŒ nŒgen tijdt tilgšrendis, att drage aff landit till att fšrsšcke sich etc.. Hwarfšre Šr wŒr wilie atti lathe honum bekome eders Pasbord. Thesligiste en godt tynne Smšr, medt nŒgen annen Skipzfetalie thenn wij honom till hielp och VndsŠttning gunsteligen vnnt och giffwit haffwe...[35] [Dated Gripsholm 4 July Anno 47. Our good graces etc. Niels Pedersonn and Bottwedt shall know that we graciously have promised this Bertil Luteniste that he may leave the country for some time to try his hand at etc... Therefore our will is that you will let him receive your passport. Likewise a good barrel of butter as well as some victuals which we graciously have given to him as help and relief...


From what follows it is evident that Bertil Larsson was sent abroad in order to receive further training in the noble art of lute playing. Three letters written by Bertil Larsson are still preserved. The first is addressed to the king himself and is dated Reval (Tallinn), Estonia, 8 October 1547. Bertil's intention (and probably also the king's) was to call on the lute master Jšrgen van LynnenbŒrg in Germany, but he had been informed that Jšren was dead and Bertil had changed his destination to Reval on Hieronymus Hoffmann's recommendation. As Gunnar Larsson has shown, this Jšren van LynnebŒrg is probably identical with the lutenist Georg Stehn (or Stein) from LŸneburg. If this is the case Bertil was certainly misinformed as Georg Stehn did not die until just before 1571. Georg was buried in the Marienkirche in LŸneburg and the preceptor Lucas Lossius wrote in his epitaph, dated 1571, dass Er, der die Menschen entzŸckte, seine lieblicher Lieder nur von Gottes Throne zum Besten gehen dŸrfte.[36] As he himself declares, Bertil's aim was to lŠra nŒgeth ther jagh kan wara Eders nŒds och Eder: nadz konininglige Magistrates barn tiill tienst med [learn something in which I can be of some service to Your Grace and to the children of Your Royal Majesty]. It is also clear from what Bertil says in his letter that he travelled together with Hieronymus Hoffmann to Reval; the last time Hieronymus' name appears in the Treasurer's Account Book is when he receives his Walpurgis salary in 1547.[37] Finally, to judge from the letter, Bertil has financial problems. He calls himself fatigh faderlšs [poor, fatherless] and he asks the king for a little allowance.


The second of Bertil Larsson's letters is dated Reval 17 March 1548, and is addressed to the king's secretary, Klemeth Hansson.[38] Bertil needs some help from Klemeth in obtaining 10 daler from a Hans Flecksten with whom Bertil had made a bet that Hieronymus should leave Sweden before Michaelmas. Again, Bertil states that his intention is to go to Germany in order to learn more and later return to Sweden to serve the king. Obviously the king must have been dissatisfied with Bertil's sojourn in Reval. Bertil refers furthermore several times to Hieronymus; the two lutenists must have been in close contact. He signs his letter ÒBertilmeuss lutenistÓ.


The third and last letter from Bertil Larsson is dated Reval, 22 June 1548. It is again addressed to Klemeth Hansson and contains some political gossip, probably in order to get the king more favourably disposed towards him. Again he asks for the 10 daler that Hans Flecksten owes him and he also begs for a small allowance. In the letter Bertil mentions in several places the wife of Hieronymus and again he assures the king that his intention is to go to Germany.[39] Unfortunately Bertil Larsson's three letters give little information of musical interest but at least they illustrate the difficult conditions under which a less distinguished professional musician lived: in poverty and dependent on his master's benevolence.


The next time we meet Bertil Larsson is in 1556 when he together with Matz fidlare, Hendrich pukenslagere, Simon trometer and Jšren van Heiden spŠleman accompanied Duke John (later to become King John III of Sweden) when the latter visited Viborg. In April 1556 Bertil also acknowledged the receipt of vŠlska gigor [Welsche Geigen, that is foreign violins/viols or fiddles]. At Walpurgis in 1556 Bertil Larson is called min n.h. hertig Johans luthslager [my gracious lord John's luteplayer) with a salary of 70 marks. Bertil probably accompanied Duke John when he moved to bo (Turku) in Finland during the summer 1556. In the same year, 1556, Bertil and Matz received clothes for Christmas and they are mentioned among the young pages, which means that they had a distinguished position. Bertil is again mentioned in the account books on 3 April 1557 when he effter min NŒdigh herres befallning [at the command of my gracious Lord] received half of his wage for the year (70 marks). Shortly thereafter, on 3 April, he received another 40 marks. It seems probable that Bertil left his service between May and September 1557. In a document without an exact date but which was completed in the summer 1557 it is noted: Mattz fidler och Bertill Luthenslagere aff landet till skenck Penningar 80 mk [Matz fiddler and Bertil luteplayer [have left] the country [and have received] as a gift 80 marks]. There is a slight possibility that Bertil was employed at the Danish court. In the Danish payrolls dated at Michaelmas 1557 three trombeslaaere (which can mean lutenists) by the names of Bertell, Matz og Benedictus are found and they are also mentioned in the account books for 1558.[40] Benedictus reappears in the Danish Treasurer's Account Book of 1559 and he is there called luthenslaer.[41] The possibility cannot be ruled out that Benedictus is identical with Benedictus de Drusina. He also on 26 August 1562 had played, die Laute geschlagen, before the duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin at GŸstrow and received 1 Gulden 7 Schillinge.[42] Arne Keller in his not published article Benedictus de Drusina - Chr. III's "Dowland" does not find it likely that this Benedictus could be any other than Benedictus de Drusina. As further evidence Arne Keller adds that there are three dances in de Drusinas book, which also can be found in the Danish manuscript KB 1873, a mansucript that was written by musicians at the court of Christian III. This also fits in time. Arne Keller provides more biographical information in his not published article Benedictus de Drusina - Chr. III's "Dowland".


Bertil stayed in the service of Duke John until 1563 and after this time nothing is known about his whereabouts. But there is a hint of a possibility, though slight, that Bertil could have worked as lutenist in Kšnigsberg from 1567 until 1579. In the records of the city archive a Barthel Metzler lautenist is noted.[43] The period and the Christian name would fit, but not the surname. Unfortunately I have not been able to consult the records from Kšnigsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia) to compare handwritings.


I will now return to Hieronymus Hoffmann whom we left at the Swedish court. As we have seen he is mentioned in the Treasurer's Account Books in 1532, 1534-1537 and 1541-1544. In 1543 he acknowledges the receipt of butter and salmon.[44] Between 1544 and 1547 he occurs regularly in the records and in 1545 his annual salary was 100 marks.[45] It seems clear that he left Sweden between July and September 1547 together with Bertil Larsson. A letter from Hieronymus is still preserved in the Swedish National Archives.




Letter from Hieronymous Hoffmann to King Gustavus I.


This letter is addressed to King Gustavus I, durclauchtiger Grossmechtiger Konnig, and is dated Reval, 19 June 1548, only a couple of days before Bertil Larsson's last letter.[46] Hieronymus writes that the king's secretary Valentin van LŸttich owes him some money and asks for the king's help in retrieving it. Like Bertil, he too obviously was in financial difficulties. However, Hieronymus letter is above all interesting for the fact that we here have the only evidence of Hieronymus' surname: the letter is signed Jeronimo Hofman Lutenist. Hieronymus stayed in Reval at least between July-September 1547 and June 1548 and his whereabouts after that date is unknown. However, in the city records of LŸneburg from 1550 we find a lutenist by the name of Jeronimus Hovemann and he may well be identical with our Hieronymous. As mentioned earlier Georg Stehn was employed in the LŸneburg Ratskapelle at least between 1537 and 1546. It is interesting to note the very plausible connection between the earlier mentioned lutenist Georg Stehn from LŸneburg and Hieronymus Hoffmann. My hypothesis is that Hieronymus Hoffmann and Georg Stehn knew each other, that Hieronymus had great confidence in Georg's ability as a lute teacher and that Hieronymus had recommended Bertil Larsson to take lessons from Georg Stehn. Later, among the Rathsmusikanten in Hamburg, we find the following mentioned in the records of 1553: Hieronymus Haveman de Olde, erster Cytharist und Lautenist, Hans Haveman, zweiter cytharist, Hieronymus Havemann de Junge, dritter Cytharist. Hieronymus de Olde stayed in the city's service until 1561, while the other two stayed until 1559.[47]


Whether it was stor Hieronymus and lille Hieronymus who reunited in Hamburg or whether we are dealing with another elder/younger constellation (lille Hieronymus could by now have become de olde!) is difficult to establish. Anyway, it seems reasonable to believe that there is a connection between the two lutenists in Hamburg and those in Stockholm. A Hieronymus citharedus is also recorded in Krakow in 1556, but it seems unlikely that he is one of the Hofmanns.[48] Between 1562 and 1573 a Hieronimus Lautenist is noted in the payrolls of the GŸstrow Hofkapelle. In 1562 he received 15 Gulden and later 19 Gulden and 9 Schillinge as payment quarterly each year. On 1 August 1565 the Duke ordered that he should receive etzlich geld, so er in sein HŠuslein zu GŸstrow auf der Freiheit verbauet, laut seines Zettels wiedergegeben 5 Gulden 9 Schillinge. In 1573 the payroll mention that he received 20 Gulden Besoldung, 16 Gulden fŸr zwei nachstŠndige Kleider, 8 Gulden fŸr einen Ochsen, 6 Gulden fŸr ein Drombt Rogken, 5 Gulden 8 Schillinge fŸr zwei Schweine und 6 Schillinge fŸr Hutgeld.[49]


In Hans Haveman we have found another possible composer of the piece Wer wolt ihr in ehren nicht sein holt in Benedictus de Drusina's book. However, I find it more reasonable to attribute the piece to Hieronymus Hoffmann: about Hans Haveman nothing else in known except that he perhaps may be identical with a Hans Hoffmann gigler [fiddler] employed at the Danish court in 1571.[50] Before leaving Hamburg I cannot refrain from mentioning that among the Rathsmusikanten was a lutenist by the name of Fritz de Drusina. His length of service is not known but he died in 1601.[51] He may have been related to Benedictus: considering the date probably a son.


Other notices concerning the lute at the Vasa courts

The French diplomat Charles de Danzay says in a letter that king GustavusÕ youngest daughter, princess Elisabeth (1549-1597), found pleasure at the spinet, that she played it better than most people and that she also played the lute. A Swedish embassy was sent to emperor Charles V in 1550-1551 during which payment was made to a luthenslager medz syin drenge (lute player with his boys) and during an embassy to LŸbeck in 1553 one pair of lute strings was bought.[52] In 1553 the student (and lute player?) Henrech Strobuck received 16 daler to buy lutes for the needs of His Majesty which was fulfilled in October the same year.[53] Also in 1553 a pair of lute string were bought in LŸbeck. A temporary guest at the Swedish court was the French lutenist Johan Cortimis denaz[?]ina, who in 1556 received a noteworthy high sum of 20 dollar for his travel costs to France. He is also mentioned in another document from the same year as Joannes Cortini.[54] During the trip of duke John (later king John III) to England in 1559-1560 a Venetian lute was bought till min nŒdige herres behov (for the needs of his lordship) as well a lute strings. During the embassy of the Swedish envoy Dionysius Beurraeus to England between 1557 and 1561 lute strings were bought in 1559.[55]  For two chests filled with lute strings from Antwerpen an expense of 24 Dollars are noted.[56] On 21 April Jacob van sodhe delivered a lute to the court musician Jšrien heide valued at 4 daler.[57]  In 1561-1562, during an embassy to Denmark is noted SkŠnckt enn Lutenist som tiŠntte Arffwed …grop och ofte spelte fšr oss Daler 2stycker (given to alutenist  who serve Arffwed …grop and who played to us often Dollar 2 pieces).[58] During the count Per BraheÕs embassy to Scotland in 1562 is noted payment to a lutenist.[59] We also have a note that an older daughter to king Gustavus I, princess Cecilia (1540-1627), who during her visit to queen Elizabeth I of England in 1565 received claims for payment for Òa Venice luteÓ[60]. We donÕt whether this lute was intended for Cecilia or for someone in her company.


To sum up: the lute played an important role in music-making at the royal court in Sweden, particularly during the period 1536-1546 when no fewer than three lutenists were employed at the same time. There also seem to have been close relations between nearly all these lutenists: they may have been of the same family and in some way connected with Danzig. Sweden was heavily dependent on foreign musicians and it was quite natural to recruit some of them from Danzig, a town with a long tradition of trade relations with Sweden. Bertil Larsson is one of the very few professional Swedish lutenists recorded and it is rather symptomatic that he was sent abroad to study and improve on his instrument. I've tried to show that one or the other Hieronymus Hoffmann is the composer of the piece Wer wolt ihr in ehren nicht sein holt in Benedict de Drusina's tablature book and thus another minor composer for the lute may have been identified.[61]


© Kenneth Sparr

[1] Tabvlatvra continens insignes et selectissimas qvasdam Fantasias: cantiones Germanicas , Italicas, ac Gallicas: Passemezo: Choreas: & Mutetas, Iam primum in lucem aeditas Per Benedictvm de Drvsina Elbingensem... 1556. Francoforti ad Viadrvm in officina Joan. Eichorn. (Facsimile edition, Leipzig, 1980). See Howard M. Brown, Instrumental Music Printed before 1600: A Bibliography (Cambridge, Mass., 1965), pp. 169-171, for a description and inventory.

[2] Hedell, K. Musiklivet vid de svenska Vasahoven med fokus pΠErik XIV:s hov (1560-68) (Uppsala, 2001), p. 164

[3] Hambraeus, B. Codex Carminum Gallicorum, une Žtude sur le volume Musique Vocale du Manuscrit 87 (Uppsala, 1961); Andersson, I. Erik XIV. (3d edition, Stockholm, 1948), pp. 23 and 165. Konung Gustaf den fšrstes registratur, Fšrsta serien, XXIII (Stockholm, 1905), p. 423. OdŽn, B. Kronohandel och finanspolitik 1560-1595 (Lund, 1966), p. 101.

[4] Tabvlatvra, op. cit., fol. C1v.

[5] Kosack, H.-P. Geschichte der Laute und Lautenmusik in Preussen, (Kšnigsberg, 1934), pp. 24 and 29.

[6] Kosack, op. cit. p. 24. I'm grateful to Peter Kir‡ly who provided me with more exact details on Bakfark's visits to Danzig and Kšnigsberg.

[7] ibid. p. 7.

[8] Sarah Davies, NYU, has kindly informed me that the use of "H." for Hans or Johann was possibly typical of styles of attribution in the 16th century when a first name was unknown. Hainhofer employs it several times in his lute book (Wolfenbuttel: HAB, 1603) for artists clearly not bearing that name. Thus, an "H" could be misleading or irrelevant.

[9] Sowinski, A. Les Musiciens polonais et slaves anciens et modernes (Paris, 1857), p. 282. Cited by Larsson, G. Tre musikerbrev frŒn mitten av 1500-talet, Svensk tidskrift fšr musikforskning 1960, pp. 101f.

[10] Riksarkivet, Kammararkivet, RŠntekammarbšcker: 1532. Cited by several authors.

[11] Ahnfelt, O. Per Brahe den Šldres fortsŠttning af Peder Svarts kršnika (Lund, 1897), p. 2.

[12] Svenskt biografiskt lexikon, Vol. 13, pp. 342-343. Kosack, op. cit. p. 63.

[13] Simson, P. Der Artushof in Danzig und seine BrŸderschaften, die Banken (Danzig, 1900) p. 124. Cited by Larsson, op. cit. p. 101.

[14] Riksarkivet, Kammararkivet, RŠntekammarbšcker: 1534.

[15] Ibid. 1536, 1537 and 1540.

[16] Kosack, op. cit. p. 7.

[17] Ibid. op. cit. p. 7.

[18] von Dalin, O. Svea rikes historia ifrŒn dess begynnelse til wŒra tider, Tredje delen, Fšrsta Bandet (Stockholm, 1760-1761), p. 339.

[19] Hedell, op. cit.p. 336.

[20] Norlind, T. & TrobŠck, E. Kungl. hovkapellets historia 1526-1926, (Stockholm, 1926) pp. 16f: Konung Gustaf den fšrstes registratur, Fšrsta ser. xxiv (Stockholm, 1895) p. 330.

[21] Konung Gustaf den fšrstes registratur, Fšrsta ser. xxiv (Stockholm, 1906) pp. 372ff. See also ibid. xxv (Stockholm, 1910), p. 575.

[22] Ibid., Fšrsta ser. xxvii (Stockholm, 1913) pp. 108f.

[23] Hedell, op. cit.p. 334.

[24] Norlind, op. cit., pp. 16f; Riksarkivet Kammararkivet, RŠntekammarbšcker: 1537, 1538, 1540, 1542 and 1544; Larsson, op. cit. pp. 99ff.

[25] Konung Gustaf den fšrstes registratur, Fšrsta ser. xxii (Stockholm, 1890) pp. 191.

[26] Norlind, op. cit. pp. 17f.

[27] Riksarkivet, Kammararkivet, Varuhus och handling, Stockholms slott: 1539, 1540 and 1542.

[28] Upmark, G. Gustaf Vasas hof: en studie, (Stockholm, 1912), p. 53. Also cited by Norlind, op. cit. p. 16.

[29] Riksarkivet, Kammararkivet, RŠntekammarbšcker: 1544.

[30] ibid., and 1545, 1546; Norlind, op. cit., p. 270.

[31] Kosack, op. cit., pp. 7 and 20.

[32] Riksarkivet, KanslitjŠnstemŠns koncept och mottagna skrivelser. Also cited by Larsson, op. cit. pp. 99f.

[33] Hedell, op. cit.p. 336.

[34] Riksarkivet, Kammararkivet, RŠntekammarbšcker: 1545 and 1546.

[35] Konung Gustaf den fšrstes registratur, Fšrsta ser. xviii (Stockholm, 1900) p. 623. Also cited by Larsson, op. cit., p. 100.

[36] Larsson, op. cit., p. 100ff. Larsson gives the full Swedish text of Bertil Larsson's letter.

[37] Riksarkivet, Kammararkivet, RŠntekammarbšcker: 1547.

[38] Larsson, op. cit., p. 102f. Larsson gives the full Swedish text of Bertil Larsson's letter.

[39] Ibid., p. 104.

[40] Ibid. Dahlstršm, F., 'Musiklivet pŒ bo slott under den Šldre Vasatiden', Musiikkitiede I/1990 pp.37-39.

[41] Friis, N. Det kongelige kapel, (Copenhagen, 1948), p. 26

[42]http://www.lexikus.de/Geschichte-der-Guestrower-Hofkapelle Information provided by Bernd Haegemann in 2008.

[43] Kosack, op. cit. p. 20ff.

[44] Riksarkivet, Kammararkivet, Varuhus och handling, Stockholms slott: 1542 and 1543.

[45] Riksarkivet, Kammararkivet, RŠntekammarbšcker: 1544, 1545, 1546 and 1547; Varuhus och handling, Stockholms slott: 1545.

[46] Larsson, op. cit., p. 101; Riksarkivet, Skrivelser till konungen; Gustaf I:s tid 1546-1560.

[47] Nelson Amos, C. Lute Practice and Lutenists in Germany Between 1500 and 1750. The University of Iowa, Dissertation, 1975, p, 189. Horst Walter, Musikgeschichte der Stadt LŸneburg, (Tutzing, 1967), p. 24. Josef Sittard, Geschichte des Musik- und Concertwesens in Hamburg (Altona & Leipzig, 1890), p. 18. Cited by Robert Eitner, Biographisch-Bibliographisches Quellenlexikon,, v (reprinted, Graz, 1959), p. 56.

[48] Chybinski, A. Slownik muzyk—w dawnej polski do roku 1800 (Krakow, 1949), p. 45. Also cited by Larsson, op. cit, p. 102.

[49] http://www.lexikus.de/Geschichte-der-Guestrower-Hofkapelle Information provided by Bernd Haegemann in 2008.

[50] Friis, op. cit., p. 28.

[51] Sittard,op. cit., p. 19.

[52] Hedell, op. cit.p. 365.

[53] Hedell, op. cit.p. 332.

[54] Hedell, op. cit. p. 308.

[55] Hedell, op. cit.p. 343ff.

[56] Hedell, op. cit. p. 338.

[57] Hedell, op. cit.p. 334.

[58] Hedell, op. cit. p. 368.

[59] Hedell, op. cit. p. 370.

[60] Queen Elizabeth & A Swedish Princess. Edited by Ethel Seaton. London 1926 p. 26

[61] This is an updated version of an article first published in The Lute Vol. XXV Part 2 (1985), pp. 69-80. A Dutch version, 'Luitisten aan het hof van koning Gustavus I van Zweden', was published in De Tabulatuur 6/1989, No 23 pp. 8-14. A Swedish version, 'Lutan i Sverige - tiden 1520-1560', was published in SGLS 19/1986 No. 1 pp. 18-36.