Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

Wecker, Hans [Johannes] Jacob

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Wecker, Hans [Johannes] Jacob

(b Basle, 1528; d Colmar, 1586). Swiss lutenist, intabulator, physician and university teacher. He matriculated at Basle University in 1543 and at Wittenberg University in May 1544, returning to Basle University in 1546. Here he befriended Christoph Piperinus, teacher of Basilius Amerbach, and the lutenists Johannes von Schallen and Thiebold Schoenauer, teachers of Felix Platter. In about 1550 Wecker travelled to Italy, presumably to complete his medical studies, and may have found his way into the intellectual circle surrounding the physician and theorist Girolamo Cardano. In 1552, at the behest of his friends, Wecker published a collection of lute duets that he had ‘recently brought back from Italy’, in the Lautenbuch vonn mancherley schönen und lieblichen Stucken (Basle, 1552). Platter reported playing from this book while studying medicine in Montpellier and also performed in Strasbourg in 1556 with a ‘good lutenist’ named ‘Wolf’. In that year, 20 of Wecker’s duets had been published by Wolff Heckel under a nearly identical title (Lautten Buch von mancherley schönen und lieblichen Stucken, Strasbourg, 1556). In 1557 Wecker married and also became professor of dialectics at Basle University; in 1560 he was professor of Latin, and later on became a professor of medicine and dean of the medical faculty. He left Basle in 1566 for the position of city doctor in Colmar, remaining there until his death 20 years later.

A follower of Ramist philosophy, Wecker was a prolific writer whose output ranged from academic works on oratory and medicine to German artisan books (Kunstbüchlein). His enduring fame, however, lies in his Latin translation and expansion of a popular ‘book of secrets’ by ‘Alessio Piemontese’, otherwise known as Girolamo Ruscelli (Secreti, Venice, 1555). His initial Latin publication of ‘six books’ in 1559, which he also made available in German as the Kunstbüch … von … bewerten Secreten (Basle, 1570), became the encyclopedic volume known as De secretis libri XVII (Basle, 1582). Translated into French and English (Eighteen Books of the Secrets of Art & Nature, London, 1660), it was repeatedly published over the next two centuries and was a staple item in libraries throughout Europe. A short section on the ‘secrets of music’, treated with the other liberal arts, describes physical and legendary aspects of strings, tuning, sympathetic vibration, wind and Flemish bells, apparently using Cardano as its authority.

Wecker’s 34 duets (the tenor book was rediscovered in 1989 but the discant book is lost) are partially preserved in Heckel’s publication, and include intabulations of vocal works as well as German, French and Italian dances arranged by key into small ‘suites’. While both lute parts in the dances are chordal, the discant part is varied with ornamentation; in the intabulations, rearrangement of the voices sometimes results in unusual doublings, inverted harmony and obscured voice-leading. Unlike the unison tunings found in earlier lute duets (including a dance pair in Wyssenbach’s print of Italian works, Zürich, 1550), Wecker’s tunings between tenor and discant lutes are a major 2nd and a 4th apart (nos.1–14 and 15–34 respectively; Phalèse also published lute duets in 1552 for instruments tuned a 4th and 5th apart). The sonorities could be described as interesting or jarring, and probably bear witness to the experiments of a lively scientific mind.


Lautenbuch vonn mancherley schönen und lieblichen Stucken mit zweyen lauten zusamen zu schlagen, Italienische lieder, Pass’emezi, Saltarelli, Paduane: weiter Frantzösische, Teütsche, mit sampt mancherley däntzen (Basle, 1552); lost; tenor book in PL-Kj (formerly in D-Bsb), discant book lost; 20 works preserved among the first 40 pieces of W. Heckel: Lautten Buch (Strasbourg, 1556, 2/1562)



J. Dieckmann: Die in deutscher Lauten-Tabulatur überlieferten Tänze des 16. Jahrhundets (Kassel, 1931)

J. Kmetz: Die Handschriften der Universitätsbibliothek Basel (Basle, 1988), 273, 304

W. Eamon: Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture (Princeton, NJ, 1994), 113, 276–8

J. Kmetz: The Sixteenth-Century Basel Songbooks: Origins, Contents and Contexts (Stuttgart, 1995), 85, 133–6

Christophe Dupraz: ‘Les duos de luths en Allemagne dans la première partie du XVIe: Hans Jacob Wecker (1552) et Wolff Heckel (1556/62)’, Luths et Luthenistes en occident: Paris 1998 (Paris, 1999)


Weckerlin, Jean-Baptiste (Théodore)

(b Guebwiller, 9 Nov 1821; d Trottberg, nr Guebwiller, 20 May 1910). French folklorist, bibliographer and composer. Destined by his father for a career in industry he studied chemistry, but in 1843 ran away to Paris to study music. He was accepted at the Conservatoire shortly thereafter despite his lack of musical training and studied composition (with Halévy), harmony and singing. After leaving the Conservatoire he earned his living by teaching music, and from 1850 to 1855 he was the choir conductor of the Société Ste Cécile, founded and directed by F.-J.-B. Seghers; there Weckerlin gained familiarity with major choral works and was able to have his own compositions performed. Several operas and orchestral works also helped to make his name in the 1850s. In 1863 he became librarian and archivist of the Société des Compositeurs de Musique. He was appointed clerk to the librarian of the Conservatoire in 1869 and was named main librarian in 1876, succeeding Félicien David. During his 33-year tenure there, he doubled the library's holdings with carefully selected new books, started collections of autograph scores and letters, and edited a selective catalogue. From his own extensive library, which was sold in Leipzig in 1910, he had transferred to Charles Malherbe in 1908 a collection of French folksongs comprising manuscripts and rare editions of the 16th to 18th centuries; Malherbe, in turn, gave this collection to the Opéra library.

Weckerlin's compositions are little known; he wrote more than a dozen stage works (mostly opéras comiques), only a few of which were presented on the Paris stage, though L'organiste dans l'embarras (1853) received over 100 performances. He also left grandiose works for chorus and orchestra, other choral compositions, symphonic and chamber music, numerous piano pieces and hundreds of songs; many of his compositions were never printed. His publications concerning popular and folk music, including his best-known book, La chanson populaire, retain their value. He made sensitive harmonizations and accompaniments to several volumes of folksongs and edited L'ancienne chanson populaire en France: 16e et 17e siècles and Chansons populaires de l'Alsace, collections of early folk music to which he contributed historical commentary. He also edited early French stage works, among them compositions by Cambert, Lully and Gluck. He contributed articles to Revue et gazette musicale de Paris, Le ménestrel and the Bulletins de la Société des compositeurs de musique, and to the supplement to Fétis's Biographie universelle.


C. Janequin: La bataille de Marignan, 4vv, pf (Paris, 1874)

J.-B. Lully: Le bourgeois gentilhomme, vs (Paris, 1876)

R. Cambert: Les peines et les plaisirs de l'amour (Paris, 1881)

R. Cambert: Pomone (Paris, 1881)

L. de Beaulieu and J. Salmon: music for Balthasar de Beaujoyeux' Balet comique de la Royne [1581], vs (Paris, 1881)

C.W. Gluck: La rencontre imprévue, vs (Paris, 1891)


Chansons populaires de l'Alsace (Paris, 1883); ed. G. Klein and R. Schneider (Schirmeck, 1984)

L'ancienne chanson populaire en France: 16e et 17e siècles (Paris, 1887)

folksong collections

(selective list)

harmonized by Weckerlin with piano accompaniment

Echos du temps passé (Paris, 1853–7)

Chansons populaires des provinces de France (Paris, 1860); commentary by Champfleury [J. Fleury-Husson] (Paris, 1860)

Chants des Alpes: 20 tyroliennes (Paris, 1863)

Souvenirs du temps passé (Paris, 1863)

Echos d'Angleterre (Paris, 1877)

Bergerettes, romances et chansons du XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 1894)

Pastourelles, romances et chansons du XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 1898)


Opuscules sur la chanson populaire et sur la musique(Paris, 1874)

Musiciana (Paris, 1877)

Bibliothèque du Conservatoire national de musique et de déclamation: catalogue bibliographique … de la Réserve(Paris, 1885/R)

La chanson populaire (Paris, 1886)

Nouveau musiciana (Paris, 1890)

Dernier musiciana (Paris, 1899)



GroveO (E. Lebeau/J. Wagstaff) [incl. detailed list of stage works]

MGG1 (S. Wallon) [incl. list of works]

H. Expert: Catalogue de la bibliothèque musicale de M.J.B. Weckerlin (Paris, 1908)

A. Pougin: ‘J.-B. Weckerlin’, Le ménestrel (28 May 1910)

S. Wallon: ‘Les acquisitions de la Bibliothèque du Conservatoire de Paris, à la vente de la collection Van Maldeghem’, RBM, ix (1955), 36–46


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