Jacobus Lotichius and his Oratio de Musica (Dorpat, 1640)



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Jacobus Lotichius (born in 1617), a son of Jacobus Lotichius, the cantor of the cathedral at Riga was himself a cantor and a poet too. Although the information concerning his life is meagre, we know that he studied in Academia Gustaviana in Tartu in 1637-1642 (at least), as many other young Livonians from Riga. The corpus of printed books from Academia Gustaviana reveals that he was more active as an author of occasional poetry (written mainly in Latin) than as a student, participating in academic exercises. Yet, we have one of his prose works, a Latin dissertation „Oratio de Musica”, which he had written for himself and performed in the contest, held in the Church of St. Mary of the Academy in January 4th 1640. „Oratio de Musica” is a typical university dissertation of his time and does not reveal much about his practical knowledge of music. It is dedicated to the nature of music and its role in life and is based mainly on the excerpts from ancient and biblical authors (some of them presented as chreiae, rhetorical examples), and general information, available from the lexicons of his time. Music is defined by Lotichius as divine and human, as a theoretical and a practical knowledge, whereas he stresses the pedagogical aspect and the need to study physics, metaphysics, arithmetic and ethics, all inevitable to become a good musician. His own dissertation gives reasons to believe, that good Latin goes together with these disciplines without saying. Concerning the practical knowledge of music, Lotichius gives lists of the names of intervals, notes, keys, tones and instruments; defines monody (Gregorian chant) and new music (musica figuralis); and discusses the nature of different modes, as well as rhythm, which are suitable for them. He finishes by the praise of music and poetical prayers, which ask for divine inspiration for his music. Oratio de Musica: quam Deo Duce atque Auspice, In regia Academia Gustaviana, quae Dorpati est ad Embeccam, die 4. Jan. Anno 1640. In Auditorio, quod est in Templo D. Mariae, publice pro concione enarrabat Jacobus Lotichius, Rigensis Livonus. Dorpati Livonorum, Typis Academicis Anno M.DC.XL.