Simon Lohet (Loxhay) (c. 1550 – 1611) was a Flemish composer, possibly born in Maastricht. During his live he was mostly active in Germany. He was organist of the Württemberg court of count Louis VI. Lohet made several trips to the Low Countries in the 1570s and to Venice in 1581 to buy instruments and music. In 1601 he retired from his post. He remained in Stuttgart until his death in summer 1611.
All of Lohet’s known works are contained in Johann Woltz’s Nova musices organicae tabulatura (Basel, 1617). The bulk of his small surviving output consists of twenty keyboard fugues, which are also his most historically important works. Most of them are short, averaging 20-25 bars, and eight are monothematic, exploring a single subject in a single section. They frequently use stretto entries, diminution and other contrapuntal devices, characteristic for the classic fugue of the late Baroque.
It seems almost unbelievable the fugues were written almost a 100 years before Bach was born.
The source of these fugues (Johann Woltz’s Nova musices organicae tabulatura (Basel, 1617)) is notated using German tablature. I’ve always been a bit mystified by this way of notating music. When I see a piece written in tablature I feel the way someone who can’t read the now usual staff notation might feel: how on earth can all those wriggly lines be music?
But last week I decided that had come to an end and I started studying tablature. As a case study I use the 20 fugues by Simon Lohet. The goal is to transcribe them in to modern notation. It turns out to be actually quite doable. I probably miss all the finer points of the notation, or make mistakes in note values, but I think I already come close to what is actually written.
I am open to all criticisms and feedback. If you spot a mistake in my transcriptions of tablature, please let me know.
So here’s the first fugue. The rest will follow in due time.
The recording was done with the sampleset, made by Organ Art Media, of the Arp Schnitger organ in Steinkirchen.
Lohet, Fuga Prima