A “virtuous” stacked canon

I’m pleased to report on a recent attempt to solve a canon found on the title page of a music anthology, Odae suavissimae (1601/1602?). Philipp Schöndorff (sometimes Schöndorpp) (1558–after 1617) dedicated this collection, including two eponymous odes, to his Liégeois compatriot Jacob Chimarrhaeus (1542–1614). Both men were at that date employed at the Imperial court of Rudolf II, Chimarrhaeus as almoner (previously as a singer and very good viol player) and Schöndorff as a chapel singer and trumpeter. Indeed, the Schöndorff had gained employment at Rudolf’s court following Chimarrhaeus’s recommendation in 1590, and the younger man’s esteem for his older co-worker may have stemmed in part from that gesture.

As so often happens among researchers these days on social media, musicologist Erika Supria Honisch reached out to colleagues for help to solve the canon that appears towards the top of the ornately engraved title page,  indicated by “CAN 4. VOC”, that is a canon in four parts (4 ex 1). [Edit: I’ve modified the previous sentence, so it does not sound like it is just Dr Honisch reaching out! JS] The canon sets the text “DOMAT OMNIA VIRTUS”, which seems to have been Chimarrhaeus’s motto: “Virtue conquers everything”. I’m grateful to Dr Honisch for the opportunity to exercise my mind on this canonic puzzle and sharing the following image.

Odae suavissimae detail
Detail of title page of Odae Suavissimae (1601/1602?) showing a canon on “Domat omnia virtus”.

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