Ghisilinus [Ghiselin]  Danckerts {Paul III-Pius V}

Tenor; Liège (but born in Tholen in Zeeland);in Naples in the employ of Pierluigi Caraffa perhaps as early as  1535  and certainly in  1537; admitted 21 March  1538;   mandati : July  1538 -September   1565; on 31 August 1565  , Danckerts was excluded from the choir by the commission of cardinals--it was noted that he had served for a long time, was a good musician, but that he had no voice, was rich, liked women; and was useless because of illness ["ha servito molto ma non ha voce, però è buon musico et è infirmo"--Document 1.15; "non habet vocem sed eccellens dives et mulieribus deditus, inutilis propter infirmitatem"--Document 1.16]; because he had been admitted originally to the choir by audition, he was granted a monthly pension of six ducats and remains in the lists among the "second class" singers from October   1565  -November  1567; punctator  in  1539 ,  1559  and  1560  and  abbas  in  1555 ,  1556 ,  1560 ,  1561 , and  1562  (although he seems to have functioned in the office for only the first two months of that year, with VincenzoVimercato taking his place--see  mandati  for  1562  and  DS  7, fols. 2r, 76r);

Danckerts many years of service in sensitive chapel offices is testimony to the respect of his colleagues. As abbas in  1555 , he instituted a new procedure to make sure that the fee that new singers were to pay to the College of Notaries was suitably recorded. According to their agreement, new singers were to pay 3 ducats to the College of notaries upon their admission to the choir. Danckerts had noted, however, that the treasurer of the College of Notaries had not always kept a record of this payment, and to avoid future disputes about this, he had a book made in which the  abbas  of the chapel could keep his own record of these payments. His Diary for 1559 is extraordinarily detailed in its historical descriptions of the singersí responses to the reform efforts of Paul IV, which came to a head in that year (also the last year of Paulís reign).

Danckerts had a reputation as a composer, but has left only a few works, none preserved in Vatican manuscripts. In view of this small extant output, it is some what astonishing to learn that on 22 March 1537 (when Danckerts was in Naples and not yet a member of the choir), he received a papal breve from Paul III, giving him a privilege to publish an immense amount of music in a collected works edition similar to that already published by Elzéar Genet (seeGenet ; interestingly, Costanzo Festa had the same idea at exactly the same time): nothing less than Masses, motets. hymns, psalms, orations, laude, readings ("lectiones"), lamentations, chansons, dialogues and "other things" some of which had been intabulated for lutes, viols, harpsichords, organs and similar instruments. It is, however, very hard to believe that Dankerts actually had this enormous oeuvre (or any part of it, even) already in hand. The title of his manuscript treatise (see below) promises to append 20 polyphonic works, but these have all been lost.

Danckerts real historical importance, howver, is as a theorist. In 1551, he, along with fellow singer Bartolome Escobedo was a judge in the final rounds of the debate between Nicola Vicentino and Vincente Lusitano on the subject of the genera in music, and he and Escobedo signed the final sentenza condemning Vicentino. Vicentino was inspired by this incident to write LíAntica Musica Ridotta alla Moderna Prattica (Rome, 1555). Danckerts set down his views of this and other matters in a treatise entitled:

Trattato di Ghisilino Danckerts, musico e cantore cappellano della Cappella del Papa, sopra una differentia musica sententiata, nella detta cappella, contro il perdente venerabile D. Nicola Vicentino, per non haver potuto pruovare, che niun musico compositore intende di che genere sia la musica che esso istesso compone, come si era offerto. Con una dichiaratione facilissima sopra I tre generi di essa musica, cioè diatonico, chromatico et enharmonica, con alcuni essempi a quattro voci in ciascun di questi generi separamente líuno dal altro, et anco misti di tutti tre I generi insieme, et molte altre cose musicali degne da intendere. Et oltraciò vi sono 20 cantilene a più voci in diversi idiomi dal medesimo authore nel solo genero diatonico composti.

Three versions of the treatise (two of them autograph) are extant in the Biblioteca Vallicelliana and have been dated 1551, 1556, and 1559-60. The treatise was not published in the 16th century and only excerpts have been published to this day, but it achieved a certain notariety, and was known, for instance to Artusi in the late 16th century.


DS  1

68v: entry dated 21 March 1538 [CASIMIRI (1926), p.173]

Dominus Ghisellinus Dankers clericus leodiensis diocesis a Santissimo in Christo patre domino nostro domino Paulo papa tertio fuit in cantorem receptus et R. D. Bartholomeus Crottus magister capelle in capelle parva presentibus ceteris cantoribus consentientibus induit eum cotta et ut moris est prestitit juramentum et soluit pro omnibus ducatos xii. Item et pro bireto decani ducatos vii.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: CELANI, p. 99;  CASIMIRI ;  FREY , p. 132;  BAINI , Giuseppe.  Memorie Storico-Critiche della vita e delle opere di Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina  (Rome, 1828); DE LA FAGE, Adrien. Essais de Diphthérographie Musicale ou Notices, Descriptions, Analyses, Extraits et Reproductions de Manuscrits Relatifs à la Pratique, à la Théorie et à líHistoire de la Musique (Paris, 1864; rpt. Amsterdam, 1964), pp. 224-239; VANDER-STRAETEN , Edmond,  La Musique aux Pays-Bas , vol. VI (Brussels, 1882, r. Dover, 1969), pp. 369-393;  DE BRUYN , J. "Ghisilinus Danckerts kapelaan-zanger van de Pauselijke kapel van 1538 tot 1565. Zijn leven, werken en onuitgegeven tractaat."  Tijdschrift der Verenigung voor Nederlandse Musiekgeschiedenis  16 (1946): 217-252; 17 (1949): 128-157;  FREY,Die Diarien;  LLORENS , Jose Maria. "Cantores pontificios colegas de Cristóbal de Morales,"  Inter-American Music Review , 10 (1989): 3-18;  LOCKWOOD , Lewis. "A Dispute on Accidentals in Sixteenth-Century Rome."  Analecta Musicologica  2 (1965): 24-40; KAUFMANN, Henry. The Life and Works of Nicola Vicentino (1511-c. 1576). Musicological Studies and Documents 11 (American Institute of Musicology, 1966) ; SHERR, Richard. "Competence and Incompetence;" VICENTINO, Nicola, Ancient Music Adapted to Modern Practice, Maria Rika Maniates (trans.) (New Haven, 1996).