Calvisius, Sethus

, a learned German chronologist, the son of a Lutheran peasant, was born at Gorschleben, a village of Thuringia, in 1556. Being very poor in his youth, he got his livelihood by his skill in music, which he learned very early, and was so liberally encouraged at Magdeburgh, that he was enabled to study for some time at the university of Helmstadt, where he made great progress in the learned languages, and in chronology and astronomy. He died at Leipsic, where he held the office of chantor, in 1615. His “Opus Chronologicum” appeared first in 1605, on the principles of Joseph Scaliger, for which he was not a little commended by Scaliger. Isaac Casaubon, also, a better judge in this case than Scaliger, as being under less temptation to be partial, has bestowed high praises on Calvisius. In 1611, Calvisius published a work against the Gregorian calendar, under the title of “Elenchus calendarii a papa Gregorio XIII. comprobati;” or, a “Confutation of the calendar, approved and established by pope Gregory XI 11.” Vossius tells us, that he not only attempts in this work to shew the errors of the Gregorian calendar, but offers also a new and more concise, as well as truer method of reforming the calendar. He was the author also of “Enodatio duarum questionum, viz. circa annum Nativitatis et Tempus Ministerii Christi,” Ertbrd, 1610, 4to. His “Chronology” was often reprinted. Of his musical talents, he has left ample proofs to posterity in his short treatise called “Μελοποια, sive Melodiæ condendæ ratio, quam vulgò | musicam poeticam vocant, ex veris fundamentis extracta et explicata,” 1592. This ingenious tract contains, though but a small duodecimo volume, all that was known at the time concerning harmonics and practical music; as he has compressed into his little book the science of most of the best writers on the subject; to which he has added short compositions of his own, to illustrate their doctrines and precepts. With respect to composition, he not only gives examples of concords and discords, and their use in combination, but little canons and fugues of almost every kind then known. He composed, in 1615, the 150th psalm in twelve parts, for three choirs, as an Epithalamium on the nuptials of his friend Casper Ankelman, a merchant of Hamburgh, and published it in folio at Leipsic the same year. Several of his hymns and motets appear in a collection of Lutheran church music, published at Leipsic, 1618, in eight volumes 4to, under the following title: “Florilegium portens CXV. selectissimas Cantiones, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, voc. prsBstantissimorum Auctorum.” Some of these which Dr. Burney had the curiosity to score, have the laws of harmony and fugue preserved inviolate. 1


Moreri. Goetzii Elogia praecocium Eruditorum, 1722, 8vo. Gen. Dict. Burney and Hawkims’s Hist, of Music. Freheii Tlicatruin. —Saxii Onomast.