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Schütz, Heinrich (1585–1672)

SCHÜTZ, HEINRICH (15851672)

SCHÜTZ, HEINRICH (15851672), German composer. Heinrich Schütz was the most important German composer of vocal music in the seventeenth century. For much of his long career, Schütz was kapellmeister (music director) to the elector of Saxony at the Dresden court, as well as serving in the court of Christian IV of Denmark. A student of the Venetian masters Giovanni Gabrieli (15571612) and Claudio Monteverdi (15671643), Schütz synthesized Italian and German procedures in an unprecedented manner that was to have a profound influence on the course of German baroque music.

Schütz was born in Kösteritz near Gera (Saxony) and baptized 9 October 1585. At the age of four his musical talent attracted the attention of Landgrave Moritz of Hessen-Kassel, who persuaded Schütz's parents to send him to his court for further education in music and art. He was an apt pupil who excelled in languages, and also studied law at the University of Marburg. However, with the landgrave's support, he traveled to Venice to study with Giovanni Gabrieli. Here he received training in Renaissance polyphony as well as the polychoral innovations favored at San Marco, and published a set of five-voice madrigals in 1611.

Upon his return to Germany around 1613, Elector Johann Georg I of Saxony requested Schütz's service for the Dresden court. Schütz obtained his release from Moritz after several years of complex negotiations, arriving in Dresden in 1615, becoming the vice-kapellmeister in March 1617 and kapellmeister in 1619, although he only received this title officially in 1621 after the death of Michael Praetorius (15711621). The Dresden court maintained a large musical establishment, and Schütz's extensive duties included the training of choirboys, hiring personnel, staffing, and the producing of secular and sacred music for all civic and religious occasions. Music in Dresden flourished prior to that city's belated involvement in the Thirty Years' War, as did Schütz's productivity and fame. His Psalmen Davids sampt etlichen Moteten und Concerten (1618), the first important collection of German church music, reflected the influence of Gabrieli's Symphoniae Sacrae and exploited the lavish vocal and instrumental resources at the Dresden court and the sonic potential of the elector's chapel. The originality of this enterprise is apparent in the detailed instructions included in the preface, which describes the proper size, makeup, and position of the forces, and other aspects of performance practice.

In addition to sacred compositions in a variety of genres, including biblical dramas and Latin motets, Schütz composed what is usually regarded as the first German opera, Apollo und Dafne, which has not survived. A second trip to Italy in 1628and studies with Claudio Monteverdiintroduced Schütz to the most recent Italian innovations in dramatic music, in particular the techniques for expressive solo singing associated with the seconda prattica (second practice). Schütz's first set of Symphonie Sacrae (1629) integrates this revolutionary new approach to text setting with the impressive use of instrumental colors and vocal sonorities gleaned from Gabrieli.

The last decades of Schütz's career at Dresden were marked by the economic pressures of the Thirty Years' War, which Saxony entered in 1631, and the meager vocal and instrumental forces he used in the compositions from this period, such as the first two sets of Kleine geistliche Konzerte (Little spiritual concertos), dating from 1636 and 1639, reflect the severe economic conditions in Germany. He twice journeyed to Copenhagen to compose music for the court of Christian IV (to whom he would dedicate his second set of Symphoniae Sacrae [1646]) and served several other prominent North German courts. In failing health, Schütz was finally permitted to take partial retirement in 1656, although he continued to advise the court on musical matters as kapellmeister. During the 1660s, he also composed a biblical drama based on the Christmas story (Historia . . . der . . . Geburth . . . Jesu Christi [1664]) of three Passions: St. John, St. Matthew, and St. Luke, all performed in Dresden in April 1666. These intense, personal works are noteworthy because of their stark, highly dramatic quality, the fidelity to the text of the Gospels, and the use of a different mode for each to accentuate the individual nature of the utterances. Schütz died on 5 November 1672, and his funeral was held at Dresden's Frauenkirche on 17 November.

Although little of Schütz's secular music has survived, he left an impressive body of sacred works in numerous genres that range from sober expressions of Lutheran piety to full-bodied, dramatic manifestations of unmatched sonic splendor. The essence of Schütz's style is an extraordinary synthesis of German and Italian techniquesthe grand approach of Gabrieli and the expressive text-setting and sense of drama that distinguishes Monteverdi's compositions, combined with the contrapuntal integrity and innate serious tone that was part of Schütz's German training and heritage. It is this genius that would find expression in the high German baroque through the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (16851750) and George Frideric Handel (16851759).

See also Bach Family ; Dresden ; Handel, George Frideric ; Monteverdi, Claudio ; Music .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Source

The Letters and Documents of Heinrich Schütz 16561672: An Annotated Translation. Edited by Gina Spagnoli. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1990. Translations of letters and important documents with extensive commentary about Schütz's career and style.

Secondary Sources

Breig, Werner. "Heinrich Schütz's Musikalische Exequien: Reflections on Its History and Textual-musical Conception." In Church, Stage, and Studio: Music and its Contexts in Seventeenth-Century Germany, edited by Paul Walker, pp. 109225. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1990.

Frandsen, Mary. "Allies in the Cause of Italian Music: Schütz, Prince Johann Georg II and Musical Politics in Dresden." Journal of the Royal Musical Association 125 (2000): 140.

Moser, Hans Joachim. Heinrich Schütz: His Life and Works. Translated by Carl F. Pfatteicher. St. Louis, 1959. Translation of Heinrich Schütz: Sein Leben und Werk (1959).

Smallman, Basil. Schütz. Oxford, 2000. Excellent overview of life and musical style, with complete works list and chronology.

Wendy Heller, Mark Kroll

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"Schütz, Heinrich (1585–1672)." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Schütz, Heinrich (1585–1672)." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/schutz-heinrich-1585-1672

"Schütz, Heinrich (1585–1672)." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Retrieved June 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/schutz-heinrich-1585-1672

Heinrich Schütz

Heinrich Schütz

The German composer Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672) is credited with an important role in bringing the Italian baroque style to Germany.

Born in Köstritz, Saxony, to prosperous, middle-class parents, Heinrich Schütz learned the rudiments of music in the chapel choir of Moritz, Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel. In 1608 Schütz entered the University of Marburg to study law, but when the landgrave, who recognized his extraordinary musical gift, offered to support him, Schütz was able to leave for Venice in 1609 to study with Giovanni Gabrieli. Schütz returned in 1613 after his teacher's death.

While in Italy, Schütz published his first collection, Il primo libro de madrigali (1611), dedicated to Landgrave Moritz. These 19 chromatic madrigals reveal the close attention Schütz was always to give both the syntax and content of his texts. Even more Italianate are the Psalmen Davids (1619), published after the composer became kapellmeister to Johann Georg, Elector of Saxony, in Dresden. In these 26 works, composed for multiple groups of vocal and instrumental soloists, reinforced by two or more choruses, Schütz brought to northern Europe the colorful, polychoral methods of his beloved master, Gabrieli. The music, of overwhelming grandeur, was written for the enhancement of the Protestant liturgy and the edification of the court.

Schütz's Historia der Auferstehung Jesu Christi (1623), the Easter Story, was his first oratorio in the Italian style. While the Evangelist performs solos to the accompaniment of four viols, the roles of Jesus and Mary Magdalene are sung as duets over the basso continuo. In his next important work, the Cantiones sacrae (1625), Schütz seemed to return to the older polyphonic style. But their chromaticism, "madrigalisms" illustrating the text, and intensely subjective qualities relate these sacred songs more closely to the madrigals of 1611.

To fulfill his task of transforming church music through the southern concerted style, Schütz made a second pilgrimage to Italy in 1628. Now he studied the techniques of Claudio Monteverdi as he observed them in the vocal and instrumental writing of the great Italian. The first fruits of the visit appeared the following year as part 1 of Schütz's Symphoniae sacrae. Solo singing with obbligato instruments over the continuo—such was the new style exemplified by the masterpiece of this first collection, Fili mi, Absalon.

A short while after Schütz returned to Germany, he found musical activity severely curtailed because of the religious wars raging throughout Saxony. During the 1630s and early 1640s he stayed only intermittently at Dresden, obtaining permission from the elector to work in Copenhagen, Wolfenbüttel, Hanover, and Weimar. Because of limited resources, the master now wrote shorter compositions for one to five parts with continuo. Two such collections were issued in 1636 and 1639 with the title Kleine Geistliche Konzerte.

By 1647 conditions at the Saxon court had improved somewhat, and Schütz released part 2 of his Symphoniae sacrae. Unlike part 1, which had Latin settings for voices and various obbligato instruments, part 2 was set to German words and used only the strings and continuo. In part 3 of the Symphoniae sacrae (1650) Schütz joined the polychoral writing of his early Psalmen Davids with the soloistic style he learned from Monteverdi. The masterpiece Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich? is scored for a six-voice ensemble, two four-voice choruses, and two obbligato instrumental parts. In few of his later pieces did he go beyond the resources of these compositions, which are truly cantatas.

Although Schütz was the foremost German protagonist of the new baroque style, he did not foresee that his apparent deemphasis of counterpoint would persuade younger compatriots to abandon it. By 1648 this danger had become so manifest that Schütz was persuaded to publish his Geistliche Chormusik, a collection of 29 motets in the older style, to show young composers "before they proceed to concertizing music to crack this hard nut (wherein the true kernel and the right foundation of good counterpoint is to be sought) and to pass their first tests in this category." Schütz obviously viewed his artistic mission as a union of counterpoint and stile recitativo, a cappella and concertato, rather than as a rejection of the older Flemish style.

In 1665 Schütz completed three Passions according to Luke, John, and Matthew. What first impresses us in these works is their external austerity. Gone are the instrumentally accompanied recitative of the Easter Story and the polychoral writing with instruments in part 3 of the Symphoniae sacrae. Here the Bible narrative is sung a cappella with solo portions chanted in a "Germanized" plainsong.

Even though these works seem archaic, it would be incorrect to believe that Schütz rejected his entire mission of a concerted, soloistic church music. Only a year or two before, he had composed the Historia der Freuden-und Gnaden-reichen Geburt Gottes und Marien Sohnes Jesu Christi, the Christmas Story, in the richly concerted style he had espoused for over 50 years. In the Passions he abandoned the luxuriant apparatus for pure chant and polyphony, in part as an object lesson to younger composers and in part to demonstrate that his own era could still use the a cappella style of the past.

Schütz passed the last of his 55 years of service to the elector of Saxony in Weissenfels and in Dresden, where he died. Through his efforts German church music took on features we easily recognize as baroque. In the way he put polyphony on an equal footing with the new concerted style, Schütz resembles Monteverdi, who also brought the past into the present and subjected it to a new esthetic.

Further Reading

Hans J. Moser, Heinrich Schütz: His Life and Work (1936; trans. 1959), is the most complete study of the master. The music of Schütz in relation to his contemporaries is treated in Manfred E. Bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era: From Monteverdi to Bach (1947), and in Claude V. Palisca, Baroque Music (1968).

Additional Sources

Geier, Martin, Music in the service of the church: the funeral sermon for Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672), St. Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, 1984.

Horton, John, Schütz: October 1585-6 November 1672, London:Novello, 1986. □

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Schütz, Heinrich

Schütz, Heinrich (b Köstritz, 1585; d Dresden, 1672). Ger. composer and organist, one of greatest of Bach's predecessors. Studied law, but patron, impressed by his mus. ability, sent him in 1609 to study in Venice with G. Gabrieli until 1612. Court org., Kassel, 1613. Kapellmeister, Dresden electoral court, 1617–57. Spent 3 periods as court cond. in Copenhagen 1633–45. In Dresden with court orch. from 1645. Comp. first Ger. opera, Dafne, 1627 (mus. destroyed by fire 1760). Revisited It. 1628–9. His special importance lies in his grafting of It. choral and vocal style on to Ger. polyphonic tradition. Wrote magnificent settings of Passions, Christmas oratorio, 7 Words from Christ on the Cross, etc. Works pubd. in 16 vols. 1885–94, ed. Spitta, with suppl. vol. 1927, contents as follows: 1. 4 Passions, Resurrection oratorios, and Sieben Worte Jesu Christi am Kreuz; 2 and 3. Psalms and Motets, 1619; 4. Cantiones sacrae, 4 vv., 1625; 5. Symphoniae sacrae, Pt.I, 1629; 6. Geistliche Concerte, 1–5 vv., 1636 and 1639; 7. Symphoniae sacrae, Pt.II, 1647; 8. Musicalia ad chorum sacrum, 1648; 9. It. madrigals, Venice 1611; 10 and 11. Symphoniae sacrae, Pt.III, 1630; 12–15. Motets, concs., arias, psalms, etc; 16. Psalms for 4 vv. Suppl.: Christmas oratorio: Die Historia von der freuden und gnadenreichen Geburt Gottes und Mariens Sohns (1664, lost until 1908).

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Schütz, Heinrich

Heinrich Schütz (hīn´rĬkh shüts), 1585–1672, German composer; pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli. From 1617 until his death he was director of music at the Dresden court. His first German work was his Psalmen Davids (1619), in which he used the new monodic, or declamatory, style. In 1627 he set to music a German translation of Dafne, set earlier in Italian by Jacopo Peri. Schütz's work (no longer extant) has been called the first German opera. Most of his works that have been preserved were written for the church, and they mark him as the outstanding master of 17th-century church music. His Symphoniae sacrae (1629, 1647, 1650) show the influence of Monteverdi. Later, in his oratorios and his settings of the Passion as narrated in each of the four Gospels, he combined the Venetian style of alternating choirs and the dramatic declamation of Florentine monody with the German polyphonic tradition. The resultant choral style influenced German music through the time of Handel and Bach.

See biographical study by H. J. Moser (1936, tr. 1959).

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Schütz, Heinrich

Schütz, Heinrich (1585–1672) German composer who wrote the earliest German opera, Dafne (1627), now lost. Most of his surviving works were written for the church.

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