Haack [Haacke, Haak, Haake], Friedrich Wilhelm

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Huygens, Constantijn

(b The Hague, 4 Sept 1596; d The Hague, 29 March 1687). Dutch poet, diplomat, amateur musician and composer, father of Christiaan Huygens. He was the second son of Christiaan Huygens, secretary of the Council of State of the Dutch Republic, and Susanna Hoefnagel, niece of the Antwerp painter Joris Hoefnagel. He grew up in The Hague, receiving a broad humanistic education, including languages, the sciences and the arts, as well as dancing, fencing and horseback-riding. His lute teacher was Jeronimus van Someren (b c1580; d The Hague, 1651), a local musician, his viola da gamba teacher an Englishman called ‘William H.’ (perhaps the English military man William Heydon), and his keyboard teacher Pieter de Vois (b ?Maassluis, c1580; d The Hague, 1654), organist of St Jacobskerk, The Hague. Travels during his youth and early adolescence made him familiar with musical practices in the southern Netherlands, England (various visits, 1618–24, from 1621 as secretary of diplomatic missions) and Venice (1620, as secretary of a diplomatic mission). From 1625 to 1647 he was personal secretary to the stadholder, Prince Frederick Henry of Orange, and from 1647 to 1650 to the latter's son and successor, William II; from 1627 until his death he was a member of the Counsel of the Domaines of the House of Orange, which provided him with a permanent connection to the Orange Nassau family. Later diplomatic missions took him to Brussels (1656, 1657), Paris (1661–5) and London (1663, 1664, 1670–71). In 1627 he married Susanne van Baerle, daughter of a rich Amsterdam merchant, and they had five children.

Huygens strictly separated his negotium (his employment) from his otium (his leisure time, devoted to the arts, especially poetry and music). His surviving correspondence, poems, diaries, journals and memoirs give us detailed insights into his musical activities. He considered music first and foremost to be a pastime; however, he also saw it as a means of promotion in both personal and professional circles. He adhered to the traditional concept that music should be viewed as a realization in sound of the harmony present in all facets of creation. Music played an important role in his contact with several musical amateurs in high society in both the northern and the southern Netherlands, for example the Haarlem priest J.A. Ban, the Duarte family of jewellers from Antwerp and the Orange nobleman Sébastien Chièze (envoy to William III in Madrid). In his correspondence with Mersenne and Descartes, music was also touched upon frequently. His contact with professional musicians seems often to have been rather short-lived: they sought him for career advice, patronage and employment, and he sought them for musical advice and their newest compositions. Among these people were Antoine Boësset, Hayne, Steffkin, Nicholas Lanier (ii), Gobert, Foscarini, Jacques Gautier, Chambonnières and Froberger. Sometimes Huygens used them as intermediaries when purchasing musical instruments; he also used his diplomatic contacts and the amateurs he had befriended for this purpose.

In 1641 he published anonymously a short treatise advocating the use of the organ to accompany psalm singing in the Dutch Reformed Church, a practice already gaining acceptance in the Dutch Republic at that time. The treatise aroused many (sought-after) positive responses from scholars and literary figures, collected by Huygens and published as Responsa prudentum ad autorem dissertationis de organo in ecclesiis Confoederati Belgii (Leiden, 1641); it also attracted fierce opposition, particularly from Jan Janszoon Calckman in his pamphlet Antidotum, tegen-gift vant Gebruyck of on-gebruyck vant orgel in de kercken der Vereenighde Nederlanden (The Hague, 1641).

Huygens composed music throughout his life, but most of it is lost. His only published work is Pathodia sacra et profana, the bass part of which is an adaptation of an accompaniment originally written for lute or theorbo. The pieces are in an expressive, personal style, which combines elements of the Italian solo madrigal and the French air de cour, in fact the format of the publication conforms to that of Ballard's books of airs de cour. Huygens himself claimed to have composed almost 1000 instrumental pieces, probably all of which were small scale, and most of which were stylized dances, such as pavans, allemandes, courantes, sarabandes and gigues.


Pathodia sacra et profana (20 Lat. ps motets, 12 It. and 7 Fr. airs), 1v, bc (Paris, 1647); ed. F. Noske (Amsterdam, 1957, 2/1975)

2 Fr. airs, 1v, lute, 1614, 1619, NL-DHk, ed. in Kossmann and Annegarn, and Grijp, TVNM (1987)

Allemande, va da gamba, A-Ksc, ed. in Crawford (1987)

Lost, referred to in autobiographical and poetical sources: other vocal pieces; numerous solo pieces for lute, theorbo, va da gamba, hpd, gui, collected in autograph vols. according to inst, Post cites an 18th-century description of 3 lute vols.; pieces for 3 va da gamba


Gebruyck of ongebruyck van ’t orgel in de kercken der Verenighde Nederlanden (Leiden, 1641/R, 2/1659–60); ed. D.N.J. van de Paauw (Rotterdam, 1937); Eng. trans. (New York, 1964)

Kerck-gebruyck der psalmen (MS, 1658, NL-DHk), ed. in Moll and de Hoop Scheffer

Lat. autobiography covering 1st 20 years of his life (MS, DHk), ed. in Worp (1897); Dutch trans. (Rotterdam, 1946 and Amsterdam, 1987)

Notes in almanacs, coll. Constantijn Huygens Lodewijkszoon (MS, c1730, DHk), ed. J.H.W. Unger, Dagboek van Constantijn Huygens (Amsterdam, 1885)

Poems, ed. J.A. Worp (Groningen, 1892–9) [incl. allusions to music, music-making, insts, musicians, comps.]

Correspondence, ed. J.A. Worp (The Hague, 1911–17)


W. Moll and J.G. de Hoop Scheffer: ‘Kerck-gebruyck der Psalmen’, Studiën en bijdragen op het gebied der historische theologie, iii (1876), 11–123

W.J.A. Jonckbloet and J.P.N. Land, eds.: Musique et musiciens au XVIIe siècle: correspondence et oeuvre musicales de Constantin Huygens (Leiden, 1882)

J.A. Worp: ‘Fragment eener autobiographie van Constantijn Huygens’, Bijdragen en mededeelingen van het Historisch genootschap, xviii (1897), 1–121

F. Noske: ‘Rondom het orgeltractaat van Constantijn Huygens’, TVNM, xvii/4 (1955), 278–309

F. Noske: ‘Two Problems in Seventeenth Century Notation (Constantijn Huygens’ “Pathodia sacra et profana”, 1647)’, AcM, xxvii (1955), 113–20; xxviii (1956), 55 only

F. Kossmann and A. Annegarn: ‘Amour blesse mon sein: een frans lied onder de handschriften van Constantijn Huygens’, TVNM, xix (1961), 89–93

W. Kalkman: ‘Constantijn Huygens en de Haagse orgelstrijd’, TVNM, xxii/2 (1971), 167–77

J. Smit: De grootmeester van woord- en snarenspel (The Hague, 1980) [General biography of Constantijn Huygens]

F.R. Noske: ‘Affectus, Figura, and Modal Structure in Constantijn Huygens's Pathodia (1647)’, TVNM, xxxii (1982), 51–75

T. Crawford: ‘Allemande Mr. Zuilekom: Constantijn Huygens’s Sole Surviving Instrumental Composition’, TVNM, xxxvii (1987), 175–81

A.T. van Deursen, E.K. Grootes and P.E.L. Verkuyl, eds.: Veelzijdigheid als levensvorm: facetten van Constantijn Huygens' leven en werk (Deventer, 1987) [incl. L.P. Grijp: ‘Melodieën bij teksten van Huygens’, 89–107; F.R. Noske: ‘Huygens de musicus: enkele aspecten’, 129–40; R.A. Rasch: ‘De muziekbibliotheek van Constantijn Huygens’, 141–62]

L.P. Grijp: ‘Te voila donc, bel oeil: an Autograph Tablature by Constantijn Huygens’, TVNM, xxxvii (1987), 170–74

R.A. Rasch: ‘Constantijn Huygens: een muzikale heer van stand’, De zeventiende eeuw, iii (1987), 99–114

R.A. Rasch: ‘De compositieregels van Constantijn Huygens’, Harmonie en perspectief, ed. A. Annegarn, L.P. Grijp and P. Op de Coul (Deventer, 1988), 24–35

T. Crawford: ‘Constantijn Huygens and the “Engelsche Viool”’, Chelys, xviii (1989), 41–60

F.R. Noske: ‘Two Unpaired Hands Holding a Music Sheet: a Recently Discovered Portrait of Constantijn Huygens and Susanna van Baerle’, TVNM, xlii (1992), 131–40

S.D. Post: ‘Constantijn Huygens’ “Musicae”: achttiende-eeuws handschrift werpt nieuw licht op Huygens’ nagelaten composities’, De zeventiende eeuw, viii (1992), 275–83

R.A. Rasch: ‘Waarom schreef Constantijn Huygens zijn Pathodia sacra et profana’, Constantijn Huygens 1596–1996, ed. N.F. Streekstra (Groningen, 1997) 95–124

R.A. Rasch: ‘The Transpositions of Constantijn Huygens’s Pathodia sacra et profana reconsidered’, Tijdschrift voor Muziektheorie, iv (2000)


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