The Kennedy Center

Petrus Tritonius



Biography

Austrian Petrus Tritonius, born Peter Treybenreif in 1465, was a humanist and composer who wrote four-voice settings of Horatian odes in note-against note style that strictly observed the classical meters and quantities.  His Hymnarius in 1524 is the oldest-known printed Catholic hymnbook and contains the texts of 131 hymns.
 
Tritonius's famiy came from Tirol, and he is known to have studied at Vienna University in 1486 and in 1497 at Ingolstadt University, where he likely studied with German humanist Conradus, Conrad Pickel, known as Der Erzhumanist (The Archhumanist). Also a Latin lyric poet, Celtis stimulated interest in Germany in classical learning and German antiquities.
 
In about 1497 Tritonius adopted a Latin name, following the custom of humanist scholars of the time.
 
Tritonius later returned to Tirol as a teacher of Latin and music. In 1502 he received a doctorate from Padua University. He then taught at the new College of Poets and Mathematicians at Vienna University, returning once again to Tirol, living in Solbad Hall and Schwaz am Inn.
 
Horatian odes resembled the poetic style or diction of Horace, the major lyric Latin poet of the Augustan Era.  Tritonius's settings of Horatian odes, an ode consisting of several stanzas all of the same form, were published in 1507 with other subsequent publishings.
 
Tritonius likely died in 1525. The success of his odes is shown by their later reissue and numerous settings modeled on them by German composers.  Stylistic parallels to Tritonius's odes are found in Protestant hymns and psalms from Martin Luther's time and in the vers mesures settings of French composers later in the 16th century.
Petrus Tritonius