Join us next Wednesday, March 29th, to hear from guest lecturer and Indiana University alumnus, Derek Stauff, who will be presenting his talk, entitled, “Reading Psalm 15 as Dialogue: Sebastian Knüpfer’s ‘Herr, wer wird wohnen?’ and its Models”. The event will take place at 3:00 PM in room M350 (Simon Music Center).
Derek Stauff is an associate professor of music at Hillsdale College (Michigan), teaching music history and organ. In 2014 he completed his Ph.D. in musicology from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, with a dissertation on music, confession, and politics during the Thirty Years War, written under Professor Melamed. His ongoing research on this topic has been published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, the Schütz-Jahrbuch, the Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music, and Bach Perspectives. He has also edited or is in the process of editing editions of music by several composers working in seventeenth-century Leipzig.
Knüpfer’s sacred concerto on Psalm 15 (“Herr, wer wird wohnen?”), which survives in a single manuscript score from the 1690s (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Mus. ms. 11780), ranks as one of the most interesting on this text from the seventeenth century. Apart from issues of sources, dating, and attribution, research on this largely unknown piece has allowed a thorough assessment of its stylistic models and influence. The concerto’s dialogue scoring and refrain-like structure turn out to mirror many earlier settings of this psalm, particularly by Andreas Hammerschmidt, yet Knüpfer achieves something new and grander than any of his possible models, German or Latin.
Like earlier composers, Knüpfer interprets the psalm as a dialogue between unnamed interlocutors (here canto and alto) and God (bass), a decision rooted in the psalm itself, whose opening verse poses two questions to God (“Lord, who shall dwell in your tabernacle? Who shall remain on your holy mountain?”) followed by a string of answers. Many settings, including those by Schütz, Samuel Michael, Scheidt, Hammerschmidt, Pohle, Bernhard, Ritter, and Knüpfer, expand the dialogue by interlacing verse 1 as a refrain between later verses, providing a regular exchange between interlocutors not found in the psalm text. Knüpfer’s concerto and two by Hammerschmidt also add a second refrain, verse 5b, inserting it between the psalm’s middle verses in addition to its rightful place at the conclusion. Some of Knüpfer’s potential models handle these repetitions with sophistication, yet Knüpfer stands out, particularly in the ways he varies his refrains and links them musically. His counterpoint and careful instrumentation also outpace the rest. All these features make Knüpfer’s psalm concerto a notable contribution to what we must acknowledge as a broader tradition of dialogue settings on Psalm 15, a text not normally even classified as dialogue.