Thomas Elsbeth

  • Born
    Unknown
  • Died
    c. 1624
  • Birthplace
    Neustadt, Franconia
Thomas Elsbeth was a German composer. Details of Elsbeth's life are few and vague. His birth date is totally unknown, although he did refer to himself as "poor and old" in 1616. Since his early publications were issued in Frankfurt an der Oder, he is thought to have been an acquaintance of Bartholomäus Gesius, the kantor there. He may have attended Viadrina University in Frankfurt, though modern scholars have been unable to substantiate this with archival research. He dedicated a publication to the city councilmen of Breslau, and may have spent time there. He also published several books of works in Liegnitz after 1606, and so it is probable that he lived there for some time. However, he is not listed in any of the surviving city payrolls. He is presumed to have lived in Jauer from 1616, and probably died there in or after 1624, the date of his last publications. Elsbeth left a significant body of extant motets and songs. Elsbeth's songs, of which there are about 100, are for three to five voices; some are in a homophonic style and others are set in a polyphonicchorale style. He never took up use of the basso continuo, despite its increasing popularity via Italy in the beginning of the 17th century. Of about 150 motets, most of the early works are in Latin and most of the later in German. His Evangelien collections are calendrical settings of the Gospels, which together cover the entire church year. The settings contain the text of the gospel reading for the day as well as a short introductory phrase which summarizes or sets the stage for the actual Biblical passage.

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