3 July 2007
LUTHER, Martin (1483-1546). Autograph letter signed ('Martinus Luther') to the composer and poet Johann Walter, n.p., 'F[eria] 6 post Lamberti 1526' [i.e. 21 September], one page, oblong 4to (160 x 205mm), autograph address panel ('D. Johanni Walther Musis amico & amato, suo in domino chariss[imo]'), (some light soiling, two mounting tabs on verso). Provenance: recorded in de Wette's edition of the Briefe (Berlin, 1827) as being in 'Cod. chart. 380. f. Bibl. Goth'.
LUTHER, JOHANN WALTER AND THE LUTHERAN HYMNBOOK: Luther promises to use his influence on behalf of Johann Walter and two other dismissed Cantors: 'I will spare you the trouble and expense and write to his highness [presumably Johann Friedrich, Elector of Saxony] myself', not least because people would suspect his influence in any case; he has written to Spalatinus [the humanist Georg Burckhardt, secretary to the elector] already, who has promised to do his best; he is also going to write to 'Herr Conrad' about 'the books' (presumably Walter's Geystliches gesangk Buchleyn), 'Die Bucher sollen dennoch wohl zu Brauch und Nutz dienen, so viel ich vermag' [the books shall still serve for use as far as is in my power].
Johann Walter's Geystliches gesangk Buchleyn was published in 1524, with a preface by Luther: it was the first Lutheran collection of choral music, and had a significant influence on the development of Lutheran hymnody. Walter and his colleague Conrad Rupsch (possibly the 'Herr Conrad' of the present letter) advised Luther on the draft of the German Mass in autumn 1525. Walter had held a post in the Elector of Saxony's Hofkapelle, and the present letter is prompted by the uncertainty which affected his position after the death of Frederick the Wise (5 May 1525).
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