Johannes Jeep


Born: 581; Dransfeld   Died: November 19, 1644; Hanau, Germany  
This composer and organist's name is not pronounced like the Popeye character or the utility vehicle named from it, but as yap, rhyming with "tape." Johannes Jeep received the education that was becoming a feature of Lutheran Germany and attended the Latin-Schools at Gottingen and Celle. He was a notably good boy singer in the Celle Hofkapelle, whose "graceful treble voice" was noted by a contemporary. He probably received some training from Read more Jacob Syring and Johannes Nesenus. His father died around 1600 and at that time, he left to study in Nuremberg and Altdorf where he came into contact with Hans Leo Hassler, Valentin Haussmann, and J.A. Herbst. He traveled widely beginning around 1610, visiting France and at least northern Italy. (He is known to have been in Venice.)

He gained a permanent position in 1613, succeeding Erasmus Widmann as concert master and organist at the court of Count Hohenlohe in Weikersheim. He also seems to have worked as some sort of agent for the Count, for he wrote of being entrusted "with matters of great secrecy, diplomatic missions, and other affairs." The Thirty Years' War caused economic belt-tightening that required the Count to disband his Kapelle, but he did make Jeep his chief steward. This gave him time to compose for and compile the Hohenlohe Hymnbook (published 1629). In 1635, he got a part-time musical position as deputy to the organist of the Cathedral off Grankfurt am Main, who was his old friend (and possibly in-law) J.A. Herbst.

He lost his position with the Hohenlohes in 1637 through misfortunes of war: Weiksersheim was taken by the German Masters of the Teutonic Order, with whom he disagreed on doctrine, so he applied for and gained the position of civil concert master of Frankfurt. However, the war made conditions there difficult and, moreover, he was in poor health, preventing him from satisfactorily performing in that post, and he was dismissed.

He found a modest job in the schools in Hanau in 1640 and in January 1642 became director of the chapel of Count Ernst of Hanau-Munzenberg and organist at the St. Marien church there. When he died in Hanau two years later, he received double funeral orations, one at the palace's Lutheran church and the other by the court preacher, a Reformed Church minister. He is especially known for his more than 100 hymn and psalm settings done mostly in four-part harmony. In addition, he wrote an enduring set of student songs, pieces of popular music that are entirely homophonic and strophic. While these are types of music that are not as elaborate as other music written at the time, he proved in his Hymnus-hymnaeus (1640), which are modeled after Italian madrigals, that he was current with the latest musical developments and capable of more complex styles of music. Read less

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