Adolph Mecklin (1761−1803)

Johan Adolph Mecklin was born on 22 May 1761 in Linköping and died on 21 November 1803 in Norrköping. He was the cathedral organist and director musices in Linköping from 1789 until his death and principal of the Trivial school in Norrköping from 1802. He was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1800.

Life

Academic years in Uppsala

Information about Johan Adolph Mecklin is sparse. Regarding his studies, evidence shows that he graduated with degrees from Uppsala University. In 1787 he defended an 18-page thesis written in Latin by professor of practical philosophy, Daniel Boëthius. According to contemporary practice, it was the task of the respondent not to write the thesis, but to defend it in a public disputation. The following year, in 1788, Mecklin defended another 14-page treatise in Latin written by Boëthius. Archived correspondence reveals that in 1787 Mecklin received an educational scholarship from the Linköping cathedral chapter. One can only assume that the scholarship was intended for his studies in Uppsala. However, nothing is known about Mecklin’s education in the field of music.

Cathedral organist and director musices at Linköping secondary school

After completing his studies in Uppsala, in 1789 Mecklin succeeded his father Johan Miklin (1726−1787) as cathedral organist and director musices (Director of Music) in Linköping. His father served there from 1754−87 and in addition assisted musicologist Abraham Abrahamsson Hülphers on work with his book Historisk afhandling om musik och instrumenter, which Hülphers published in 1773. The book deals with the art of organ building in Sweden. Miklin assisted Hülphers, who was not a professional musician himself, with concrete data on organ instruments. Miklin also translated German music theorist Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg’s book on basso continuo into Swedish in 1782. The book was probably intended for use by church musicians.

Like his father, Johan Adolph Mecklin served as both cathedral organist and director musices at the Linköping secondary school, from 1789 to 1802 or 1803. A reference to his appointment is mentioned in a 1789 letter from the Dean of the Diocese of Linköping, Samuel Eric Älf (1727−1799) to Jacob Axelsson Lindblom (1746−1819), Bishop of Linköping and later Archbishop of Uppsala. The letter discusses an upcoming decision the cathedral parish will take the following month regarding the organist position, and the Dean believes they will be pleased with Mecklin .

Since the church still presided over the schools, it was common practice at the time for the duties of both cathedral organist and director musices for the secondary schools to be included in a single position of employment. As far as we know, no specific details of Mecklin’s activities at the school exist.

Principal in Norrköping

From 1802 Mecklin was the school principal at Trivialskolan (The Trivial School, a type of middle school or pre-secondary educational institution, after which one could attend secondary school, Gymnasium) in Norrköping. It has not been possible to obtain reliable information concerning his final years; it is unclear whether he worked in Linköping until 1803 or if he only worked in Norrköping from 1802 onwards. He died, however, in Norrkoping on 21 November 1803.

Works

The few details remaining regarding Mecklin’s compositions and writings are all related to his activities as an organist. An 1801 transcript by Mecklin of a chorale book consists of a bass part accompanied by figured bass notation. It was common at that time to copy chorale books and to then adapt them for local use. In the beginning of the book, Mecklin notes that it is a ‘Chorale book or melodies for hymns according to the present-day singing praxis, with a figured bass to be played with four-parts, executed by Johan A. Mecklin’. This particular chorale book was subsequently copied by at least one other organist. Another music book, För begynnare i tonkonsten, which was clearly intended as an instructional book in daily tasks for church organists, was published in 1802. This publication deals with various aspects of music and the use of music in the church, including basic music theory methods for vocal parts and basso continuo, instrumental technical advice and performance practices. The second edition of this book was published in 1819, suggesting that it was a useful reference for organists.

One example of Mecklin’s organ music is his piece Tempo Giusto, published in 1996 in the collection Vox candida. En liten antologi med orgelmusik från det svenska 1800-talet. Additional fragmentary evidence includes a text by Olof Åhlström to which Mecklin set music for a funeral in Linköping Cathedral on Good Friday, 1803. Only the text is extant.

Karin Hallgren © 2016
Trans. Thalia Thunander

Publications by the composer

Choral-Bok, 1801.
För begynnare i tonkonsten: med tabell, innehållande skalorne, för klavér, violin, altviol och violoncelle; jemte några öfningsexempel för violin
. Linköping, 1802, 2nd ed. 1819.

Bibliography

Högberg, Per: Orgelsång och samspel: musikalisk gestaltning av församlingssång, Göteborg: Högskolan för scen och musik, 2013.
Höijer, J. Leonard: ‘Johan Adolph Mecklin’, in: Musik-lexikon, Stockholm: Abr. Lundquist, 1864.
Nyström, Pia & Elmquist, Anne-Marie: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien: matrikel 1771−1995, Stockholm: Kungl. Musikaliska akademien, 1996.
Odén, KlasÖstgötars minne: biografiska anteckningar om studerande östgötar i Uppsala 1595−1900, Stockholm, 1902.

Sources

Lindblom Collection of Correspondence, Linköpings stadsbibliotek, two letters concerning Johan Adolph Mecklin, available via Riksarkivet [sok.riksarkivet.se, search terms: Johan Adolph Mecklin].

Summary list of works

Organ works, songs.

Collected works

Organ
‘Tempo Giusto’, in: Vox candida: en liten antologi med orgelmusik från det svenska 1800-talet, Claes Holmgren (ed.), Slite: Wessman, 1996.

Songs

Vid Christina Maria Lindboms jordfästning, i Linköpings domkyrka, långfredagen, 1803 (O. Åhlström). Linköping: Groth och Petre, 1803.


Works by Adolph Mecklin

There are no works by the composer registered