The German composer, Christian Flor, was immediate predecessor to Georg Böhm as organist at Lüneburg’s St. Johannis church. He composed one of the earliest oratorio Passions. Among his Lüneburg colleagues were Michael Jacobi, Christian Gärtner, Friedrich Funcke, and Johann Jacob Löwe. Flor is probably best known as the composer of music for two volumes of poetry by Johann Rist (1607-1667), a well-known theologian and poet. Flor’s keyboard music is becoming better known through editions and facsimiles.
Johann Rist collaborated with a number of composers in his quest for the perfect sacred music, engaging Christian Flor for two of his last three collections of sacred poems. The two collections, both entitled Neues Musikalisches Seelenparadies, were published in Lüneburg in 1660 and 1662. In the face of criticism that his melodies were too florid, Flor demonstrated that they could be reduced to simple chorale melodies. Nevertheless, the melodies as published remained beyond the reach of congregational singers. To criticism from Rist that Flor’s melodies did not suit the affect of all stanzas, Flor replied that Rist always sent him just the first strophe.
Christian Flor wrote music for special occasions, such as weddings and funerals such as the 1659 wedding composition, Auf, hört ihr meine Sinnen, or the funeral composition, Es ist g’nug. Not enough of Flor’s works are extant to make a proper judgment about Flor’s influence. However, it is noteworthy, that some of Flor’s works are to be found in the Uppsala Düben Collection. Also significant is the fact that both Johann Gottfried Walther and Johann Mattheson include Flor in their lexicons.
Hilde Szwerinski’s Verzeichnis der erhaltenen und nachweisbaren Werke Christian Flors sowie der von ihm aufgezeichneten Kompositionen is a useful catalogue, including information about extant copies and modern editions of Flor’s music. Bruce Gustafson’s facsimile edition of Lüneburg, Ratsbücherei, Mus. ant. pract. 1198 makes Flor’s music more widely available than it previously was. Friedrich Jekutsch’s “Ausstellungskatalog Christian Flor” lists the items of the 1997 exhibition. Altogether there are 47 items organized under six categories: Early Years, Musical Life in Lüneburg in the 17th Century, Organist at St. Lamberti and St. Johannis, Flor’s Compositions, Flor as Adjudicator of Organs, and Death and Influence. Among the most interesting items displayed were those from the Lüneburg Stadtarchiv in Flor’s hand. These included his 1663 application for the cantor’s position at St. Johannis and his 1676 application for the organist’s position at the same church. It also included a document which Flor, together with organists from two other churches, wrote to the Lüneburg city council complaining of the their poor salaries.