Bartholomeus Kellner (Trol. före 1560−efter 1600)


Bartholomeus (Bertil) Kellner is one of the earliest composers in Sweden to have a work reliably attributed to him: a six-part parody mass composed in or before 1598. Kellner was an active musician in the service of King John III for much of his reign.


Nothing is known of Bartholomeus Kellner’s dates, place of birth or family. Existing sources place him largely within court music circles during the reigns of the Catholic King John III and his son and successor King Sigismund. Besides Stockholm, traces of Kellner are also found in Reval (Tallinn). He is listed as being in the service of John and Sigismund for 18 years (1576−1594) as both a trumpeter and a fiddler. This is relatively uncommon for a northern European court at this time, as the trumpeters were organised separately and treated as highly specialised professionals.


Only one composition can be attributed with any certainty to Kellner, namely a six-part parody mass – a setting of the Ordinary in which the composer (or the adapter) uses themes, passages and ideas from an existing motet, in Kellner’s case Orlando di Lasso’s Lauda Jerusalem. In 1598, court chorister Thorstenius (Torsten) Rhyacander Johansson from Småland included this work in a set of partbooks under the rubric ‘Missa ad imitationem Lauda Jherusalem. Composita a Bartholom: Kelner’ (‘Mass in imitation of Lauda Jerusalem. Composed by Bartolomeus Kellner’). That Kellner is the referent is made explicit by the various spellings of his name in inscriptions (including ‘Chellenerius’, ‘Kellner’ and ‘Kelner’). This is not the only preserved parody mass of this kind written in Sweden in the 16th century, but the only one to date known to be attributed to a specific person. Otherwise, such attributions were normally only made when copying from print.

Kellner’s mass has survived in two sources. The first, belonging to the German Church or King John’s court music in Stockholm (TyKy15), is the above mentioned copy in Rhyacander’s manuscript. The other source has an indisputable connection to the cathedral school in Västerås (Molér 68[24]). In this latter source, which includes several unique anonymous imitation masses of possible Swedish origin, the date inscription (1598) can also be linked to Kellner’s mass. The partbook also includes the original Orlando di Lasso motet Lauda Jerusalem on which the imitation is based. The Rhyacander source also refers to as ‘patron’ another colleague of Kellner’s in the Hovkapellet (Royal Court Orchestra); namely the schoolmaster and cantor at the German School, Wolfgang Burchard.

The uncommonly detailed (for its Swedish context) and repeated mention in the partbooks of the roles of patron or commissioner (Burchard), adaptor or composer (Kellner) and copyist (Rhyacander) suggests that the work had been intended for a specific purpose. In this regard, it can be noted that all three musicians participated in the wedding of Elisabet Vasa and Kristoffer av Mecklenburg in Stockholm 1581, when Rhyacander was still a schoolboy. Kellner’s mass can have been written for some similar occasion seventeen years later. Hans Åstrand and Gunnar Larsson have forwarded the tentative hypothesis that this context could have been the truce following the battle of Stångebro (outside Linköping) in September 1598. This has been neither proved nor refuted.

In his arrangement, Kellner evinces the deep understanding of contrapuntal structures expected of trained 16th century choristers and exploits a variety of arrangement, variation and adaptation possibilities to the original model. The motet music is adapted to the formally different divisions offered by the liturgical text as regards the planning of cadences and the extension of homophonic passages. The choices he makes within the given style and convention are also not without originality.

Mattias Lundberg © 2016
trans. Neil Betteridge


Hedell, Kia: Musiklivet vid de svenska Vasahoven med fokus på Erik XIV:s hov (1560-68), diss., Uppsala universitet, 2001.
−−−: ”Missa super im Mayen: The Oldest Manuscript in the Düben Collection”, i: Erik Kjellberg (red.), The Dissemination of Music in Seventeenth-century Europe: Celebrating the Düben Collection, Bern: Peter Lang, 2010, s. 33−48.
Kjellberg, Erik
: ”Kellner, Bartolomeus (Bertil), i: Sohlmans musiklexikon, vol. 4, 2:a uppl., Stockholm: Sohlman, 1977, s. 49.
−−−:  ”Vasahovens musik: Vasadynastins renässanskultur”, i: Musiken i Sverige, Stockholm: Fischer, 1994, s. 191−220.
Larsson, Gunnar
: ”En svensk mästare från reformationsårhundradet”, Kyrkomusikernas tidning, nr 10 1967.
Norlind, Tobias
: ”Svensk musikodling under reformationstidevarvet”, Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning, 1944, s. 15−118 [inkl. transkription av Kyrie-satsen av Kellners Mässa].
−−−:  Från tyska kyrkans glansdagar, vol. 1, Stockholm: Musikhistoriska museet, 1944.


Västerås city library (Stiftsbiblioteket section),  Musik- och teaterbiblioteket

Summary list of works

Choral work (Missa super Lauda Jerusalem).

Collected works

Missa super Lauda Jerusalem, six parts a cappella (SSATBB).

Works by Bartholomeus Kellner

There are no works by the composer registered