Lodewijk Meyer, a contemporary fan of Jacob van Eyck


Jacob van Eyck Quarterly


2003, No. 1 (January)



Lodewijk Meyer, a contemporary fan of Jacob van Eyck

On 26 March 1657, Jacob van Eyck breathed his last breath. Two elegies were written upon his death. One by the Reformed minister Lambertus Sanderus, who also provided van Eyck's tombstone with a four-line verse. The other was written by Lodewijk Meyer. [full text] The sole extant copy of the latter is to be found in a partly printed, partly autographic collection of poetry that belonged to Meyer. It is preserved in the Library of Leiden University [Ltk 1043]. This elegy is particularly interesting as Meyer pays attention to the music which had survived the Utrecht master.

Click on the picture for a higher resolution In the first line, he invokes the muse Euterpe. The first volume of van Eyck's Der Fluyten Lust-hof initially appeared as Euterpe oft Speel-goddinne ('Euterpe, or the Goddess of Instrumental Music'). In the last part of the elegy, the poet finds comfort in van Eyck's compositional legacy. He mentions the Lust-hof, planted with 'many golden fruits', and is convinced that the deceased master 'shall live in the Netherlands through his sounds [compositions] as long as mankind in the Netherlands has ears.' This elegy clearly suggests more personal and musical involvement than the one by Lambertus Sanderus.
Lodewijk Meyer (1629-1681) was a leading figure in the Dutch cultural and scholarly life of his time. He was a philosopher, physician, philologist, lexicographer (Nederlandsche woordenschat), poet and playwright. In 1660 he obtained his doctorate in philosophy and medicine at Leiden University. Meyer was a follower of Descartes and personally befriended with Spinoza. In 1669, he was among the founders of the Amsterdam cultural society Nil Volentibus Arduum. Meyer had an elder half-brother, Allardus Kók, who was a professional musician.

Was Lodewijk Meyer an amateur recorder player, and did he play van Eyck's music himself? Probably. No final proof exists, but there is circumstantial evidence. After van Eyck's death, the Amsterdam music printer Paulus Matthysz launched a new instrumental collection: 't Konstigh Speeltooneel (3 volumes, 1657-1660) by the German composer Pieter Meyer.[1] For the third volume, Lodewijk Meyer wrote a panegyric on Pieter Meyer. (In spite of their common surname, they were not related.) Pieter Meyer for his part dedicated three charming duets to Lodewijk Meyer, which can also be found in the prefatory pages. [facsimile]

Whereas the two-part Speel-tooneel was primarily meant for violin and bass, the duets are conceived for '2 Fluyten of Violinen' [2 recorders or violins]. [2]This leads us to believe that Lodewijk Meyer must indeed have been a recorder player.

That Meyer was more than roughly acquainted with the original editions of Der Fluyten Lust-hof, can be concluded from the elegy's heading, which speaks of the 'Ed. en Konstryken Jonker Jacob van Eyk, Uitneemendt Musiçyn, en Directeur van de Klókwerken, tot UITRECHT, &c.' These words were clearly derived from the Lust-hof 's title pages. The spelling 'Eyk' instead of 'Eyck' can be found in the first edition of the second volume (1646) and the second edition of the first volume (1649).

As Ruth van Baak Griffioen has argued, Der Fluyten Lust-hof 'seems designed with two main characteristics in mind: young and amateur.' [3] Lodewijk Meyer perfectly fits in the profile. He was almost fifteen years old when the first works by van Eyck were published in 1644. He was 27 when van Eyck died. An interesting detail is that Lodewijk Meyer grew up on the Bierkade in Amsterdam, a part of the Oudezijds Voorburgwal between the Oudekerksplein and the Damstraat. The music shop of Paulus Matthysz was practically around the corner!


[1] See Rudolf Rasch, 'P(i)eter Meyer, musician in Hamburg, Amsterdam, Sulzbach, and Hamburg', in Tijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, XL/1 (1990), 36-74. [back]

[2] Modern edition: Pieter Meyer, 't Konstigh Speeltooneel (Variations for Soprano Recorder; Preludium, Ballet & Courant for two Soprano Recorders), ed. Thiemo Wind (Amsterdam: Broekmans & Van Poppel, s.d.) Ed.No. 1622 [back]

[3] Ruth van Baak Griffioen, Jacob van Eyck's Der Fluyten Lust-hof (1644-c1655), Utrecht 1991: 65. [back]


Thiemo Wind


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