From Benedictus Buns a lot of his work has been survived and handed over: motets, litanies, masses, dialogues between vocal and instrumental choirs, as well as 14 instrumental sonatas. From Buns we know nine opus numbers I up to IX, published between 1666 and 1721. Books were published by Petrus Phalesius, Antwerp, opus I–III; by Lucas de Potter, Antwerp, opus IV and V; by Arnold van Eynden, Utrecht opus VI; by Hendrik Aertssens, Antwerp, opus VII; by Estienne Roger, Amsterdam, opus VIII-IX. The two editions of Gregorian chant and his opus I-VII and IX contains a great part of liturgical music. His opus VIII contains only instrumental music. From the nine Opus-numbers seven have been come across in full.
Even after his death (1716) opus numbers were published. Those opus numbers I up to IX published during his life consist out of 123 surviving compositions, among others 109 religion vocal compositions with instruments. We know for instance 11 masses, 2 Requiem, 2 Magnificat, 5 Lauretanic Litany, 8 Tantum Ergo,11 Salve Regina, 4 Regina Coeli, 1 Te Deum, Ave Maria, 1 Missa pro defunctis, 1 Ave regina coelorum, 1 Alma Redemptoris Mater, 11 little oratoria with free religion text and compositions for Beata Maria Virgine, Sancto Josepho, Sancto vel sancto, Sanctissimo Sacramento and many other religion occasions. Buns’ work reflects of course his activities in the service of his order.
Further more Buns composed 13 Trio sonatas for 2 Violins, Viola da Gamba and Basso Continuo (Bassviola and organ) which were published in 1698 in his opus VIII with the title: "Orpheus Elianus è Carmelo in Orbem Editus a 2 Viol. et Basso viola cum Basso Continuo". These compositions were dedicated to Count Oswald van den Bergh Boxmeer and his wife Maria Leopoldina van Oost-Friesland-Rittburg.
The 14th instrumental sonata is sonata finalis nr. 15 opus V. This Sonata finalis has two instrumental choirs with basso continuo and is representative for the modern concerto principle. Has Benedictus Buns composed a nr. 14 sonata? It seems so. The suggestion could be made other instrumental works have been lost. His last opus IX was published in 1701. From this year 1701 Buns studied and practised the Gregorian Chorals and Chants. In 1711 (Plantin Antwerp) and after his death in 1721 (Ludovicus de Quantinne Brussels) two volumes from his hands were published in Antwerp and Brussels. Those two volumes consist out of Gregorian songs for the liturgical practice of course specially collected by Buns for the monastery of Fratrum Beata Virginae Mariae Monte Carmelo Boxmeriensis, first the “Processionale juxta usum Fratrum Beatae Virginae Mariae de Monte Carmelo” and second “Manuale Chori ad usum Fratrum Beatae Virginae Mariae de Monte Carmelo”. These two books showing theoretically and musically amendments by Buns. Much of his compositions (voice-books) no scores are available were laid-down and found in libraries of Amsterdam, Utrecht, Brussels, Antwerp, Geldern, Boxmeer, Paris, Zürich, Vienna, Uppsala.
Published Compositions Voice-books and Gregorian Chants
- Opus I Missae, litaniae, et motetta, IV. V. VI. vocibus cum instrument. et ripienis Antwerp, edited by the heirs of Petrus Phalesius,1666. Two masses, three motets, two litanies, for 5 solo voices, four-part choir, instruments and bc.
- Opus II Corona stellarum duodecim serta, I. II. II. IV. vocibus et instrumentis , editio secunda aucta et emendata. - Antwerp, edited by the heirs of Petrus Phalesius, 1673. First ed. (circa 1670) has been lost. Seven motets, two masses, litany, Salve Regina, Tantum ergo, for 1-4 solo voices and bc.
- Opus III Flosculi musici. - Antwerp, edited by the heirs of Petrus Phalesius, 1672.
Fourteen motets, for 1-4 solo voices, instruments and bc.
- Opus IV Musica montana in monte Carmelo composita, cantata in monte Domini, 1. 2. 3. vocibus, & unum Tantum ergo. 4. voc. & 2, 3 vel 5. instrumentis ”Bergh-music”- edited by Lucas de Potter, Antwerp, 1677.
- Opus V Completoriale melos musicum, II. III. & IV. vocibus, II. III. vel V. instrumentis decantandum – edited Antwerp, Lucas de Potter, 1678. Seven motets, four Maria antiphons, litany, two Tantum ergo, for 2-4 solo voices, instruments and bc. and Sonata finalis II choris (double instrumental choirs).
Modern edition: Sonata finalis nr. 15 for double string Chorus and bc. , edited by Faso catalogue, Enschede.
- Opus VI Encomia sacra musice decantanda 1, 2, 3 vocibus et 2, 3, 4. et 5 instrumentis edited Utrecht, Arnold van Eynden, 1683. Nineteen motets, one mass, for 1-3 solo voices TTB, instruments and bc.
Modern edition: Motets for one and two voices with instrumental accompaniment : from Encomia sacra musice decantanda (Ultrajecti 1683) / ed. by Marinus Waltmans. Amsterdam, VNM, 1982. Includes nos. 1, 6, 9 and 11.
Modern edition: O Jesu Chare, motet for one voice, two violins, fagotto ad. Lib. and bc. Hans Schouwman Stichting, 1982.
- Opus VII Orpheus gaudens et lugens, sive cantica gaudii ac luctus, a 1, 2, 3, 3 & 5 vocibus ac instrumentis compositta. Edited - Antwerp, Hendrick Aertssens, 1693. Fifteen motets for 1-5 solo voices, instruments en bc, four masses for 4-5 solo voices, instruments and bc.
- Opus VIII Orpheus Elianus a Carmelo in orbem editus a 2 violinis et basso viola cum basso continuo, edited Amsterdam, Estienne Roger, 1698.
Thirteen trio sonatas, for 2 violins, viola da gamba and bc.
Modern edition: Trio sonata in d minor, opus 8 nr. 3.
Edition Heuwekemeyer Amsterdam, Bärenreiter Verlag nr. 803, 1958.
- Opus IX Missa sacris ornata canticis 1. 2. 3. vocibus et 1. 2. 3. 4. et 5 instrumentis, edited Amsterdam, Estienne Roger, 1701.
One mass for 3 solo voices, ten motets for 1-3 solo voices, instruments and bc.
Gregorian Chants Processionale juxta usum Fratrum Beatae Virginae Mariae de Monte Carmelo edited in Antwerp by Plantiniana, 1711.
Gregorian Chants Manuale Chori ad usum Fratrum Beatae Virginae Mariae de Monte Carmelo edited in Brussels by Ludovicus de Quainne 1721.
Style and valuation
After his death Benedictus Buns was entombed in one of the halls in the monastery of the Carmelites in Boxmeer. In the necrology of the Carmelite monastery in Boxmeer is written: “6. December obiit P. Benedictus à Sancto Josepho alias Buns, Gelriensis, quondam subprior, organista ac Musiciae componista famosissimus.” In France Buns was granted with a title of honour “le grand Carme”. The Dutch musicologist Frits Noske has done a remarkable job to make accessible the total oeuvre by Buns. Moreover in 1967 a first Benedictus Buns Memorial was held in Boxmeer initiated by conductor Theo Lamée and Carmelite Monch Paulus Schmitt. In 1968 a plaquette was unveiled in hall of the monastery in Boxmeer in remembering and honouring the Carmelite Benedictus Buns. In 2001 a second Benedictus Buns Memorial was initiated by conductor Hans Smout and executed in Boxmeer in the castle and in the basilica.
For Buns style is characteristic the structure from proportionally short pieces, with changing beat and speed bars. The motets on Latin texts are of a meditative nature. Further a homophone setting kind of the Primus in the upper voice, as well as larding also instrumental components in prelude and interlude plays under the designation: Symphonia, Sonata, Ritornello. However he wrote brilliant concertando masses, for instance Missa Secunda opus I for 6 vocibus, 4 vocibus in repiëno et instrumenti.
Buns uses text in the motets of literal excerpts from the Holy Scriptures, partly too of paraphrases of the Scriptures and own? additions in meditative style. The new created texts by poets in the 17th century are even real inspiration for Buns’ motets. Even literal quotations from the Scriptures texts are treated by Benedictus Buns in an oratical way. The instrumental part is in the first phase according to conservative habit written in three or five part, only rarely four part after more modern view. The used and chosen instrumentation by Buns consists out of, violins, alto and tenor violins, viola, viola di Gamba, bass Viola, violoncello, bassoon, Basso continuo, usually organ with bass-violins, sometimes with trombones. But to the contrary in sonata finalis nr. 15 opus V Buns composed for two instrumental choirs with basso continuo. This composition is a representative of the modern concerto principle used by Buns. The 13 sonatas out of opus VIII are written in outstanding virtuoso Baroque idiom, with some southern tint. This opus VIII — Orpheus Elianus e Carmelo in orbem editus — is a splendid example of truly inspired excellent Dutch music. Of course Orpheus Elianus refers to the Prophet Elijah, so he did in his opus VII, Elijah the spiritual inspiration for the founders and members of the order of Carmelites to which Buns belonged.
These 13 trio sonatas opus VIII have clearly affinity with the sonata da Chiesa by Corelli. They exist from short, in each other overflowing particles, often in five parts Adagio – Allegro – Adagio – Allegro – Adagio. In the same slightly one possibly the sonata finalis nr. 15 opus V for two violin choirs has to be considered as an excellent instrumental motet. Extremely surprisingly and ingenious is the alternating play between chorus I (violin 1 and 2, viola and viola di gamba) and chorus II (violin 1 and 2, viola, tenor-violin and dulciano/fagotto) having been supported by the continuo (organ, clavichord and double-bass).
The opus VIII as a whole considered exhibits a logical tonal system. The first six sonatas follow the circle of fifths in the minor keys, starting from c through g, d, a, and e to b. Sonata no.7 starts in f-sharp minor but modulates to E-flat major. The last six sonatas nr. 8 up to13 continue through the circle of fifths, but now in the major keys, from E-flat, through B-flat, F, C, G and to D. The chosen harmonic structure is interesting and lends this opus VIII a tough architecture.
Without any doubt Buns is strongly be influenced by Italian composers from his time, like for instance Bassani and Degli Antonii. It could be Buns have had some contacts with musicians of the Italian Carmelites. Unfortunately is unknown who was the music-teacher of Buns in Geldern. In the Carmelite monastery of Geldern were at that time two organs placed in the monastery-church. The Carmelites at that time had a high skill of the art of music. Perhaps a chapel-master out of Cologne? Because there exist proven contacts between the family/Count van den Bergh ‘s-Heerenbergh and chapel-masters of Cologne like Carl Rosier (1640-1725) and even the Flemish Carolus Hacquart (c.1640-1671). It’s likely they worked in ‘s-Heerbergh. Buns’ music is based on the principles and style of the Venetian School at the beginning of the 17th century and Buns’ oeuvre has some similarity to Monteverdi and even comparison to Charpentier and Corelli can de added. Although Benedictus Buns wrote almost exclusively religious music he has to be considered as the most important Dutch composers in the second half of the 17th century.
Character of an era in which Buns lived and worked
Benedictus Buns lived and worked in a time that the barony of Boxmeer or the so called “Vrije heerlijkheid” was a free independent enclave in the Calvinistic republic of the Seven United Netherlands. The “Vrije Heerlijkheid” Boxmeer was an autonomous area in which nothing had to fear of the reformation which took place in that time in the Netherlands. Buns spent his life in a region at the south-eastern part of the Netherlands near to the German Rhineland that was divided into numerous small territories falling under various jurisdictions with exception of the Calvinistic Republic.
Since the peace of Munster in 1648 in a large part of Brabant the Catholics had been forced ceding their churches to the new religion. Not in the free enclave Boxmeer. Not only the Catholic religion could be confessed there in all freedom but also art-industrious-driven has assumed enormous proportions in Boxmeer.
The family of earls Van den Bergh from ‘s-Heerenberg stimulated the cultural flowering-age in Boxmeer. Moreover some prosperous families, such as Van Odenhoven, De Raet and Hengst, had build country-seats in Boxmeer such as Leucker, De Weijer, and Elsendock. They brought together with the earls Van den Bergh employment of administrative nature in Boxmeer.
On instigation and request of earl Albert Van den Bergh became the Flemish Carmelites requested to found a Carmelite-convent in Boxmeer.
Boxmeer belonged in that time to diocese Roermond, which by 14th of august 1653 granted authorisation to founding for the Carmelite-convent in Boxmeer. At the end of 1652 a donation was sealed to the Flemish Carmelites and the Geldern Carmelites by earl Albert van den Bergh which consists out of two hectare grounds located to the head street beside and at south of the existing parish church in Boxmeer.
Boxmeer were considered as a stronghold — even by diocese Roermond — by the marching reformation.
Buns – composing mainly religious music — could flourish in Boxmeer unhindered. Moreover Buns knew themselves insured of the support of the family earl Van den Bergh. On behalf of Madeleine the Cusance, the widow of earl Albert and for his sun Oswald Van den Bergh, Benedictus Buns composed dedicated music. In spite of their support to Buns and travelling by Benedictus Buns to Brussels, Antwerp and Malines his music was not broadly spread, although famous music printers are recognizing his musical qualities and printed his music.
That applied then especially and mainly to the Antwerp and to the Brussels music printers. In this respect it is noticed that Buns opus VIII — entirely existing from 13 sonatas — was, however, pressed in Amsterdam!
The strength, power and influence of the powerful Calvinistic the Hague do not have be underestimated and that’s why the religious music of Buns were not hardly taken into consideration in the Republic.
That Buns did not remain in the determination of the Carmelite convent, becomes quite clear including from the above mentioned much-travelled man which Benedictus Buns was. Moreover the Carmelites backed themselves since the reform of Touraine in 1604 strong for the integration of art and education in the convent, therefore also for the music of Buns.
In that sense and as an exponent of it the Latin school in Boxmeer — opened in 1658 — answered guarantor for "artes liberales usque ad rhetoricam" (Liberal Arts and rhetoric). This Latin school formed also a counter-balance against the reform colleges in the Republic.
The earls Van den Bergh considered this Latin school as a scientific centre and as a proof of a cultural stronghold. But also the Carmelites had behave themselves to "jurisdictiones, praeeminentias et immunitates" (jurisdiction, primacy and immunity) of the earls Van den Bergh and those stood sometimes on the side of Orange-family! And that shows the reverse side of the medal in Boxmeer!
- Benedictus Buns: brief aan gaaf Oswald van den Bergh at ’s-Heerenbergh in 1688 zie Wout van Kuilenburg p.10 en archief Castle ’s-Heerenbergh http://www.musicksmonument.nl/brief.html
- Kreisarchiv Kleve: Sammlung Benedictus à Sancto Josepho (S7) by Frits Noske
- A.I.M. Kat: De geschiedenis der kerkmuziek in de Nederlanden sedert de Hervorming (Hilversum 1993) , pp. 111-112, 131 ff.
- J. H. van der Meer: Woord vooraf bij de publicatie van de trio sonata in d-minor, opus VIII nr.3 in 1958, Amsterdam Kassel
- J. H. van der Meer: Benedictus a Sancto Josepho van de Orde der Carmelieten (1642-1716) Tijdschrift voor Muziekwetenschap 18, 1958 pp. 129-147
- J. H. van der Meer: Benedictus a Sancto Josepho vom Karmeliterorden in Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch 46, Köln 1962, pp. 99-120
- J. H. van der Meer: Benedictus a Sancto Josepho vom Karmeliterorden in Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch 47, Köln 1963, pp.123-124
- J. H. van der Meer: Benedictus a Sancto Josepho vom Karmeliterorden in Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (MGG), Kassel 1973, Band 15, pp. 648 ev.
- H.J. Zomerdijk: Het Muziekleven in Noord-Brabant, 1770-1850, in Bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van het Zuiden van Nederland, LI(1981), pp.35-36
- Marinus Waltmans: in Introduction by the edition of four motets by Buns in 1982, Vereniging voor Nederlandse muziekgeschiedenis, Utrecht, 1982, pp. V-XII
- Alois Wolfgang Arbogast: Benedictus a Sancto Josepho alias Buns Gelriensis, Karmeliter, Organist und hochberühmter Komponist, 1984, pp.106-119
- Frits Noske: Music bridging divided religions Deel 1-2. Wilhelmhaven: Noetzel, 1989. (Paperbacks on Musicology 10) pp 280, 281-528
- Rudolph Rasch: Review of F.R. Noske, Music bridging divided religions (1989). Tijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis 41 (1991b), pp. 135-140
- Drs. A.T.A. Wolters-van der Werff, De Latijnse school van de paters Karmelieten, Drukkerij Schoth BV, 1993
- Het Honderd Componistenboek, Haarlem 1997
- Ruud Huijbregts: Booklet with CD Brabantse Barokmusic 1998
- Rudolph Rasch: Radio Netherlands Music, biography of Benedictus Buns on internet
- Emile Wennekes: Booklet with CD Benedictus Buns, by Ensemble Séverin, NM Classics 92131 pages 7-9, Benedictus Buns: Carmelite creator of mellifluous string music 2003/2004
- Wout van Kuilenburg: De grenzen te buiten, Orgels, hun makers en behuizingen bezien vanuit Boxmeers perspectief, Het Orgel, 102 (2006) nr. 4 pp. 6-7 and p. 11, 2006
- Articles in Dutch newspapers de Volkskrant, De Gelderlander en het Boxmeers Weekblad regarding Buns memorials in 1967 conductor Theo Lamée and in 2001 conductor Hans Smout
- New Groves: Groves Music Online, 2007
- Wikipedia: Benedictus Buns, 2007, with different authors
- Mr. Wim Goossens: Benedictus à Sancto Josepho (1642-1716) in Classical Composers Database, 2004-2007
Discography (CD and LP recordings)
Religious Vocal Music:
- Vanguard Classics 99126. Four Dutch composers of the Golden Age. Recorded 1995. Ensemble Bouzignac, Van Nevel. Among others:
- Magnificat, Buns opus V
- O sors optata, Buns opus VI
- Salve Regina, Buns opus I
- CCS 12498. Saints & Sinners. Recorded 1998. Cappella Figuralis, Jos van Veldhoven. Among others:
- 2. Ave Maria, Buns opus IX
- 6. Domine, ne in furore, Buns opus VI
- 7. Posita in medio, Buns opus V
- 8. Obstupescite, Buns opus VI
- Brabantse Barokmuziek. Recorded 1998. Performers: Eindhovens Vocaal Ensemble, conductor & organist Ruud Huijbregts. A private edition. Among others:
- Posita in medio, Buns opus V
- Ave Maria, Buns, opus IX
- Sonent Cythareae, Buns opus I
- CD RAM 0604. De profundis clamavi, released October 2006. L’Armonia Sonora, Peter Kooij (Bas) and Mieneke van der Velden, viola da Gamba and conducting:
- 7. Domine ne in furore tuo, Benedictus Buns opus VI out Economia sacra musice decantanda, edited by Arnold van Eynden in 1683.
- NM Classics 92131. Recorded 2003. Ensemble Séverin. All 13 instrumental Triosonatas, 1 - 13 by Benedictus Buns for two Violins, Viola da Gamba and Bc (in this performance organ). opus VIII, 1698, Orpheus Elianus edited by Estienne Roger Amsterdam.
- On the website (http://klassiekemuziekgids.net) The Residentie-ochestra with: Sonate finalis nr 15 out of Completoriale Melos Musicum, Buns opus V.
- LP ”400 Years Dutch Music nr. 2.”: 1979 Residentie-orchestra conducted by Ton Koopman: Sonate finalis nr. 15 out of Completoriale Melos Musicum, Buns opus V.
- CD Brillant Classics 93100, Music from the Golden Age of Rembrandt, recorded 2006 and released January 2007. Musica Amphion, Pieter-Jan Belder conductor, Music from the Time of Rembrandt: Triosonata nr. 7 in f-sharp minor/E-flat major, Benedictus Buns, opus VIII, 1698, Orpheus Elianus edited by Estienne Roger Amsterdam.
- Brabantse Barokmuziek. Recorded 1998. Performers: Eindhovens Vocaal Ensemble and Brabants Muzyk Collegie, conductor & organist Ruud Huijbregts. A private edition. Among others:
- Triosonate nr 3, 1698, Orpheus Elianus, Buns opus VIII
- Sonata Finalis nr 15, out of Completoriale Melos Musicum, Buns, opus V.
In 1967 there a first Benedictus Buns Memorial in Boxmeer initiated by conductor Theo Lamée and Carmelite Monch Paulus Schmitt.
Performing: Boxmeers Vocaal Ensemble & Vocal Ensemble ’Vondel’ Vierlingsbeek & Nijmeegs Kamerorkest, Conductor Theo Lamée.
- Sonata nr. 3 in d, Buns opus VIII
- Sonata nr. 12 in G, Buns opus VIII
- O Quam Suave, Buns opus VI
- Mass in F, Buns opus VI
- Salve Regina, satb, Buns
- Jubilate, cantata et exultate, Buns
More ensembles gave since then performances from Dutch music of the Golden Age among others Benedictus (Buns) à Sancto Josepho. Nevertheless it’s remarkable that since the impressive publication of Frits Noske: Music Bridging Divided Religions" no more music from that period is known nor have been regularly performed in that time!! But there are some changes nowadays.
In March 2001 there was another Benedictus Buns memorial in Boxmeer.
Hortus Musicus Religiosus Bergen op Zoom, Conductor Hans Smout, Ensemble Séverin, Schola Cantorum Brabantie Tilburg, Director Rebecca Stuart:
Programme in the chapel of the Castle Boxmeer:
- Sonata I in C, opus VIII
- Sonata X in F, opus VIII
- Salve Regina, opus I
- Sonata VIII in Es, opus VIII
- Sonata VII in fis/Es, opus VIII
- Sonent Cytharae, opus I
Programme in the St. Peter Basilica minor Boxmeer:
- Missa Secunda, opus I
- Sonent Cytharae,opus I
(Contribution by Mr Wim Goossens Boxmeer Holland <mr.goossensmrsgoossens.nl>)
Benedictus (Buns) à Sancto Josepho (1642–1716) was presumably born in 1642 in the surroundings of Geldern (Germany) near Kevelaer where he entered in 1659 at the monastery of the Carmelites in Geldern. That’s why Buns called himself with reference to his birthplace Buns Gelriensis. His first name is unknown. Buns was professed in 1660 and in 1666 he became his ordination. Between 1666 and 1671 — we suppose in 1670 — he moved to Monastery of the Carmelites in Boxmeer (the Netherlands) where he became sub-prior in the periods, 1671–1674; 1677–1683; 1692–1701; 1704–1707. The monastery in Boxmeer was part of a independent Catholic enclave which was Boxmeer out of the Duchy of Brabant which was part of the republic in that time. The development of Catholic church music and other Catholic art could proceed in Boxmeer unfettered. Buns travelled to Mechelen, Antwerp and Brussels to attend Carmelite chapter-meetings. From 1679 up to his death he held the position of functionary (titularus) organist in Boxmeer at the famous Bremser organ. As organist Buns was in Boxmeer the successor of Hubertus à Sancto Joanne Vlaminck (1633–1679) the well known organist in Boxmeer (from 1668–1679). After is death, Buns was succeeded by Cecilius à Sancto Gerardo.
In 1701 Buns considered himself as private composer/conductor and organist (“Aulae Bergis phonascus et organista”) to the Count Oswaldo van den Bergh at Boxmeer and the family van den Bergh at ‘s-Heerenbergh. Another quality of Benedictus Buns he was an organ-expert and an organ-advisor. In 1688 Buns initiated the completion and expansion (under-Positive) of the Bremser organ in Boxmeer by Jan van Dijck. In 1703 Buns approved the Ruprecht (III) organ which was built in the chapel of the nunnery of the Carmelites Elsendael in Boxmeer. So he did in 1706 for the new organ in the monastery in Geldern. Buns passed away in Boxmeer December the 6th 1716. In the necrology of the Carmelite monastery in Boxmeer is recorded: “6. December obiit P. Benedictus à Sancto Josepho alias Buns, Gelriensis, quondam subprior, organista ac Musiciae componista famosissimus.” In 1968 a plaquette was unveiled in the hall of the monastery in Boxmeer in remembering and honouring this famous Carmelite Benedictus Buns.