Who was Hans Neusidler?

Well, for starters he had 17 kids.

Nuremberg, Germany
Hans Neusidler’s hometown for 33 years, where he published his eight lautenbuchs.

A product of the 500 years later project will be to expand Hans Neusidler’s story. There is not much information available about him right now, especially in America. The Grove Music Online entry about him is only 181 words long, excluding the sections about his two most famous sons. What I have been able to gather so far about his story is a Frankenstein of information from Grove Music Online, album liner notes from Jacob Heringman, and Wikipedia (obviously I’m scraping the barrel here). I look forward to discovering more about Hans Neusidler and revealing a more vibrant picture of his life. For now, here is what I know:

  • Born in Bratislava, modern Pressburg in 1508/9
  • Which means he is Slovakian by birth!
  • His name is sometimes spelled, “Newsidler”
  • Moved to Nuremberg in 1530 and became a citizen in 1531 
  • Around this same time he married his first wife 
  • He had 13 children with his first wife
  • He fell into significant financial debt and had to sell his home
  • During this time he is teaching lute, composing, arranging and publishing his eight lautenbuchs between the years of 1536-1549
  • His first wife dies 
  • He remarries in January of 1556
  • He and his second wife have four more kids (really?!)
  • Dies in 1563
An instructional image that appears in each of his eight lautenbuchs.

So, I have facts. Facts, are like a dehydrated story. Its only part of the bigger picture. I am not even 100% sure the picture I used for this post is of him! What was Neusidler like? What were his wives’ names and what were they like? Was Neusidler kind, or mean? Did he prefer Žinčica to lager? Where was his house? Were he and his wife in love? Did he face discrimination because of his Bratislavian birth? Did he ever pay off his debts? What was his youth like, there is no information between the years of his birth and when he moved to Nuremberg? Is all this information still in Pressburg? Why did he become a lutenist?

Stay tuned as I hope to write more of his story.

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