Gerbert von Hornau, Martin


Eminent writer on musical history; born at Horb-on-Neckar, was a .welleducated priest of the Benedictine order. Having entered the monastery of St. Blaise at seventeen, he was ordained in 1744, and in 1764 became Prince Abbot. Fond of historical research and music, he combined the two, beginning with the convent library, and afterward traveling for several years through Germany, Italy, and France, where his position enabled him to secure access to the carefully guarded books of many monastic libraries. He became intimate with Padre Martini at Bologna, where an exchange of ideas was valuable to both, Martini undertaking a history of music in general, Gerbert that of church-music alone. By a prospectus, published in 1762, inviting information and contributions, he soon collected a vast amount of material, the greater part of which was unfortunately destroyed by a fire at the Abbey in 1768. Notwithstanding this drawback, the work was published in 1774, De cantu et Musica Sacra, in two volumes. Ten years later appeared a second work, Scriptores ecclesiastic! de musica sacra potissimum, in three volumes, comprising a number of treatises by musical authorities of the Middle Ages collected from manuscript and published verbatim, without corrections. This is considered his most valuable work, both in his own day and in this, though verv rare. He also published two lesser musical works, an account of his travels, and a translation of a musical treatise by Notker; a number of theological works, and some offertories. He was prominent for his estimable character and his labors for the improvement of conditions among the poor. A statue was erected to his memory at Bonndorf by the grateful peasants of that region. He was instrumental in securing the banishment from the church of all instruments but the organ.