It is unknown where Teller received his musical training as violinist and composer. His compositional craftsmanship suggests thorough training. His motets are marked by an imaginative alternation of arias, recitatives and choral passages. They reveal a rich harmonic idiom and excellent craftsmanship in vocal and instrumental writing. In his musical language the words, mostly based on the Bible, serve as basis for the musical figures and expression.
Elke Janssens soprano
Annelies Brants soprano*
Kaspar Kröner alto
Vincent Lesage tenor
Michael Adair bass
Elin Eriksson violin 1
Liesbeth Nijs violin 2
Jan Willem Vis viola
Bernard Woltèche violoncello
Remy Syrier organ, harpsichord
*Adagio Motet VI
Recording date: February 26, 27 & June 7, 2011
Recorded at Chapel Zusters onder de Bogen, Maastricht by Skarster Music Investment
Production & distribution: Skarster Music Investment
Producer: Jos Boerland
Recording, editing and mastering: Jos Boerland
Pictures: Hans Leenders and Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg Maastricht
Design: Jos Boerland
Text: Régis de la Haye and Mathieu Vermeulen
English translation: Christine Moraal
Many thanks to: Stichting Elisabeth Strouven, Stichting Kanunnik Salden Nieuwenhof, Brand Cultuurfonds, Stichting Edmond Hustinx, Zusters onder den Bogen, Medewerkers Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg.
‘In the house there was an empty room. I used this room to give weekly concerts together with other music lovers, since Maastricht is full of musicians. I was able to win the best musicians for my orchestra, especially the canons of the two chapters in the city. Among them were true virtuosos. The choirboys also joined in, as did their teachers. It was one of the finest orchestras to be heard. They performed good and solemn symphonies, Italian and French songs from operas en cantatas, everything according to the latest fashion. The room was always full of ladies and gentlemen.' Thus Casimir Count von Schlippenbach (1682-1755) in his autobiography in 1717, about the beginning of his twenty-year stay as an officer in Maastricht. It would not be a stretch to imagine the violinist Marcus Teller among the musicians of the two Maastricht collegiate churches.
Marcus Teller, son of Hendrick Teller and Cornelia Janssen, was baptized as ‘Marcus Henrici Teelder' on 17 December 1682 in St. Nicholas in Maastricht. The family name of Teller also appears in the archives as Tellers, Teelder, Teelers, Telders, or Tellder.
The family must have been reasonably well-to-do, as father Hendrick Teller acquired a stately house in the Grote Looierstraat in 1708. Perhaps Marcus was a choirboy at the Basilica of Our Lady and received his education at the Jesuit school, but Maastricht's archives tell us nothing. We do know that on 29 August 1705 Marcus Teller, ‘Traiectensis' (of Maastricht), enrolled at the faculty of the ‘artes' at the university of Leuven. He was one of the ‘porcenses', meaning that he resided in a so-called pedagogy by the name of ‘The Pig', a house in which students lived and studied. The faculty of the ‘artes' had four such pedagogies. Students completed these before being admitted to the higher faculties such as law, medicine and theology.
On 29 January 1710 Marcus Teller is admitted as violinist at the chapter of Our Lady in Maastricht. On 30 August 1713 he receives the chapter's permission to be consecrated as a deacon. Shortly after he must have been consecrated as a priest, as he was admitted to the brotherhood of rectors of St. Anne at the chapter church on 8 January 1714. The rectors of St. Anne were for a large part responsible for the liturgy and the Divine Office and accordingly also had an important musical task in the chapter.
Conflicts quickly arose with the canons of Our Lady, and in 1715 Teller removes to St. Servatius. In September he is admitted to the brotherhood of rectors at the church of St. Servatius and on 1 October 1715 he receives a benefice with a regular salary. His ‘defection' to St. Servatius causes a substantial conflict with the Church of Our Lady. Three times Teller is summoned by the chapter to account for his actions, but he refuses to appear. He is sentenced for perjury and discharged on 9 June 1717. On 2 October 1720 he is again forbidden to say Mass at Our Lady's and at the church of St. Nicholas, where apparently he still
Marcus Teller quits his service at the brotherhood of rectors at St. Servatius on 5 May 1727. He makes his will on 16 October 1728. On 22 October 1728 he is buried in St. Catherine's Church in Boschstraat.
The surviving works of Teller consist of two printed editions and a number of manuscripts. In 1726 the collection Musica sacra stylo plane Italico & Cromatico was published as opus 1 by Joannes Lotter in Augsburg. It was dedicated to the canon Arnold Hyacinthus Wynants, provost of St. Servatius and neighbour of Marcus Teller's parents at the Grote Looiersstraat. Besides the nine motetta brevia pro tempore recorded here, the print contains two missae solemnes for four soloists, four-part choir and instruments. The copy that survived at the Bibliothèque du Conservatoire at Luik bears the inscription ‘Insignis Ecclesiae B.M. Virg. Trajecti ad Mosam 1738'. This means that the canons at Our Lady's acquired the collection for their library in 1738. In 1733 Teller's opus 2 was posthumously published under the same title by Veiths Erben in Augsburg-Graz. It contains four new masses and four motets. Another three masses exist in manuscript.
It is unknown where Teller received his musical training as violinist and composer. His compositional craftsmanship suggests thorough training. His music is a perfect example of the style of Catholic church music in the southern Low Countries during the first quarter of the 18th century. His motets are marked by an imaginative alternation of arias, recitatives and choral passages. They reveal a rich harmonic idiom and excellent craftsmanship in vocal and instrumental writing. In his musical language the words, mostly based on the Bible, serve as basis for the musical figures and expression.
The motets were integrated into their appropriate place in Mass and Office by means of their texts. Especially fitting moments were Elevation, Offertory, Communion, and the end of Mass. Besides High Mass, Vespers and the half-liturgical Evensong offered plentiful opportunites for the singing of motets. The motets' texts are rarely linked to a specific date in the liturgical calendar and accordingly appropriate at different times of the church year. Their concise form (motetta brevia) is a consequence of their liturgical function.
These historic facts about Teller are based on new research in Masstricht archives. most of the biographical information published earlier is hereby obsolete.