Schütz, Heinrich (1585–1672)

views updated May 18 2018


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 .


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

Schütz, Heinrich

views updated Jun 08 2018

Schütz, Heinrich

Schütz, Heinrich (also Henrich), great German composer; b. Köstritz, Oct. 8, 1585; d. Dresden, Nov. 6, 1672. He was born into a prosperous family of innkeepers; in 1590 the family settled in Weissenf eis, where his father became burgomaster. He was trained in music by Heinrich Colander, the town organist. In 1599 he became a choirboy in the court chapel of Landgrave Moritz of Hessen-Kassel; in Kassel he pursued his academic studies with Georg Otto, the court Kapellmeister. On Sept. 27, 1608, he entered the Univ. of Marburg to study law; an opportunity to continue his musical education came in 1609 when Landgrave Moritz offered to send him to Venice to take lessons with Giovanni Gabrieli. Under Gabrieli’s tutelage, he received a thorough training in composition, and he also learned to play the organ. In 1611 he brought out a book of 5-voice madrigals, which he dedicated to his benefactor, Landgrave Moritz. After Gabrieli’s death in 1612 Schütz returned to Kassel, serving as second organist at the court chapel. In 1615 the Elector invited him to Dresden as Saxon Kapellmeister; Praetorius was also active at the Dresden court for special occasions at this time. In 1616 Landgrave Moritz asked the Elector to allow Schütz to return to Kassel, but the Elector declined; in 1617 Schütz assumed fully his duties as Saxon Kapellmeister, being granted an annual salary of 400 florins from 1618. In addition to providing music for court occasions, he was responsible for overseeing the functions of the court chapel. In 1619 he publ. his first collection of sacred music, the Psalmen Davids sampt etlichen Muteten und Concerten. On June 1, 1619, he married Magdalena Wildeck, the daughter of a court official in Dresden. They had 2 daughters. His wife died on Sept. 6, 1625, and Schütz remained a widower for the rest of his life. During a court visit to Torgau, Schütz composed the first German opera, Dafne, set to Opitz’s translation and adaptation of Rinuccini’s libretto for Peri’s opera; it was presented at Hartenfels Castle on April 13, 1627, to celebrate the wedding of the Princess Sophia Eleonora of Saxony to Landgrave Georg II of Hesse-Darmstadt. In 1628 he was granted a leave of absence, and went to Italy. There he had an occasion to study the new operatic style of Monteverdi; he adopted this new style in his Symphoniae sacrae (publ. in Venice, 1629). He returned to his post in Dresden in 1629. When Saxony entered the Thirty Years’ War in 1631, conditions at the Dresden court chapel became difficult. In 1633 Schütz accepted an invitation to go to Copenhagen, where he obtained the post of Kapellmeister to King Christian IV. In June 1634 he returned to Dresden. His Musicalische Exequien, composed for the interment of Prince Heinrich Posthumus, appeared in 1636. He also publ. 2 vols, of Kleine geistliche Concerte (1636 and 1639). He composed the music for the opera-ballet Orpheus und Euridice, which was performed in Dresden on Nov. 20, 1638, to celebrate the marriage of Prince Johann Georg of Saxony and Princess Magdalena Sybilla of Brandenburg. In late 1639 Schütz obtained another leave of absence to serve as Kapellmeister to Georg of Calenberg, who resided in Hildesheim. After a year’s stay in Dresden, in 1641–42, he set out once more for Copenhagen, where he again served as Kapellmeister, until April 1644. Returning to Germany, he lived mostly in Braunschweig (1644–45), and was active at the court of nearby Wolfenbüttel. In 1645 he returned to Dresden; the Elector declined his request for retirement but did allow him to live a part of each year in Weissenfels. Schütz continued to compose industriously during these years. The second book of his Symphoniae sacrae appeared in 1647, followed by his Geistliche Chor-Music in 1648. In succeeding years, Schütz repeatedly asked to be pensioned, but his requests were ignored. Finally, when Johann Georg II became Elector in 1657, Schütz was allowed to retire on a pension with the title of Chief Kapellmeister. His Passions St. Luke, St. John, and St. Matthew all date from these last years, as does his Christmas Oratorio. About 1670 he returned to Dresden to settle his affairs and await his end, which came peacefully in 1672, in his 87th year.

The importance of Schütz in music history resides in his astute adaptation of the new Italian styles to German music. He was extraordinarily productive, but not all of his works survived; the majority of his extant compositions are vocal works of a sacred nature. The most important collection of Schütz’s MSS is housed in the Hessische Landesbibliothek in Kassel. The first major edition of his works, edited by Philipp Spitta, was publ. by Breitkopf & Härtel (16 vols., Leipzig, 1885–94; suppl. vols, were publ. in 1909 and 1927). A second edition of his works, Neuen Schütz-Gesellschaft, began to appear in 1955 in Kassel. A third ed., Stuttgarter Schütz-Ausgabe, began publication in 1971. A catalogue of his works, ed. by W Bittinger, is found in his Schütz-Werke-Verzeichnis (SWV): Kleine Ausgabe (Kassel, 1960).


II primo libro de madrigali (Venice, 1611); Die Wort Jesus Syrach…auff hochzeitlichen Ehrentag des…Herrn Josephi Avenarii (perf. in Dresden, April 21, 1618; publ. in Dresden, 1618); Concert mit 11 Stimmen: Auff des…Herrn Michael Thomae-…hochzeitlichen Ehren Tag (perf. in Leipzig, June 15, 1618; publ. in Dresden, 1618); Psalmen Davids sampt etlichen Moteten und Concerten (Dresden, 1619); Der 133. Psalm…auff die hochzeitliche Ehrenfrewde Herrn Georgii Schützen (perf. in Leipzig, Aug. 9, 1619; publ. in Leipzig, 1619; not extant); Synchartna musicum (perf. in Breslau, Nov. 3, 1621; publ. in Breslau, 1621; not extant); Historia der frölichen und siegreichen Auferstehung unsers einigen Erlösers und Seligmachers Jesu Christi (Dresden, 1623); Kläglicher Abschied von der churfürstlichen Grufft zu Freybergk (perf. in Freiberg, Jan. 28, 1623; publ. in Freiberg, 1623); Cantiones sacrae (Freiberg, 1625); De vitae fugacitate: Aria…bey Occasion des…Todesfalles der…Jungfrawen Anna Marien Wildeckin (perf. in Dresden, Aug. 15, 1625; publ. in Freiberg, 1625); Ultimaverba psalmi 23…super…obitu…Jacobi Schultes (perf., in Leipzig, July 19, 1625; publ. in Leipzig, 1625); Psalmen Davids, hiebevorn in teutzsche Reimen gebracht, durch D. Cornelium Beckern, und an jetzo mit ein hundert und drey eigenen Melodeyen…gestellet (Freiberg, 1628; second ed., 1640; third ed., rev. and enl., Dresden, 1661); Symphoniae sacrae (Venice, 1629); Verba D. Pauli…beatis manibus Dn. Johannis-Hermanni Schernii…consecrata (perf. in Leipzig, Nov. 19, 1630; publ. in Dresden, 1631; not extant); An hoch printzlicher Durchläuchtigkeit zu Dennenmarck-…Beylager. Gesang der Venus-Kinder in der Invention genennet Thronus Veneris (perf. in Copenhagen, Oct. 1634; publ. in Copenhagen, 1634); Musicalische Exequien…dess…Herrn Heinrichen dess Jüngern und Eltisten Reussen (perf. in Gera, Feb. 4, 1636; publ. in Dresden, 1636; not extant); Erster Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten (Leipzig, 1636); Anderer Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten (Dresden, 1639); Symphoniarum sacrarum secunda pars (Dresden, 1647); Danck-Lied: Für die hocherwiesene fürstl. Gnade in Weymar (perf. in Weimar, Feb. 12, 1647; publ. in Gotha, 1647); Musicalia ad chorum sacrum, das ist: Geistliche Chor-Music…erster Theil (Dresden, 1648); Symphoniarum sacrarum tertia pars (Dresden, 1650); Zwölff geistliche Gesänge (Dresden, 1657); Canticum B. Simeonis…nach dem hochseligsten Hintritt…Johann Georgen (perf. in Dresden, Oct. 8, 1657; publ. in Dresden, 1657); Historia, der freuden- und gnadenreichen Geburth Gottes und Marien Sohnes, Jesu Christi (Dresden, 1664; includes the Christmas Oratorio, which was lost until discovered by Schering, 1908); Die sieben Wortte unsers lieben Erlösers und Seeligmachers Jesu Christi (date not determined); Historia des Leidens und Sterbens unsers Herrn und Heylandes Jesu Christi nach dem Evangelisten S. Matheum (perf. in Dresden, April 1, 1666); Historia des Leidens und Sterbens…Jesu Christi nach dem Evangelisten St. Lucam (perf. in Dresden, April 1, 1666); Historia des Leidens und Sterbens…Jesu Christi nach dem Evangelisten St. Lucam (perf. in Dresden, April 13, 1666); Königs und Propheten Davids hundert und neunzehender Psalm…nebenst dem Anhange des 100. Psalms…und eines deutschen Magnificats (Dresden, 1671).


H. S.: Autobiographie (Memorial 1651) (facsimile ed., Leipzig, 1972); M. Geier, Kurtze Beschreibung des…Herrn H. S.ens…Lebens-Lauff (Dresden, 1672; reprint, 1935); J. Mattheson, Grundlage einer Ehren-Pforte…(Hamburg, 1740; new ed. by M. Schneider, Berlin, 1910); M. Fürstenau, Beiträge zur Geschichte der königlich sächsischen musikalischen Kapelle (Dresden, 1849); ibid., Zur Geschichte der Musik und des Theaters am Hofe zu Dresden (Vol. I, Dresden, 1861); F. Spitta, Die Passionen nach den vier Evangelisten von H. S.(Leipzig, 1886); P. Spitta, Die Passionsmusiken von Sebastian Bach und H. S. (Hamburg, 1893); A. Pirro, S. (Paris, 1913; second ed., 1924); E. Müller von Asow, H. S.: Leben und Werke (Berlin and Dresden, 1922); J. Müller-Blattau, ed., Die Kompositionslehre H. S.ens in der Fassung seines Schülers Christoph Bernhard (Leipzig, 1926; second ed., 1963); H. Spitta, H. S.’ Orchester- und unveröffentlichte Werke (diss., Univ. of Göttingen, 1927); W. Schuh, Formprobleme bei H. S. (Leipzig, 1928); R. Gerber, Das Passionsrezitativ bei H. S. und seine stilgeschichtlichen Grundlagen (Gütersloh, 1929); E. Müller von Asow, ed., H. S.: Gesammelte Briefe und Schriften (Regensburg, 1931); A. Heller, Der Deutsche H. S. in seinen italienischen Madrigalen (diss., Univ. of Prague, 1934); W. Kreidler, H. S. und der Stile concitato von Claudio Monteverdi (Kassel, 1934); A. Abert, Die stilistischen Voraussetzungen der “Cantiones sacrae” von H. S. (Wolfenbüttel and Berlin, 1935); K. Gudewill, Das sprachliche Urbild bei H. S. (Kassel, 1936); H. Moser, H. S.: Sein Leben und Werk (Kassel, 1936; second ed., rev., 1954; Eng. tr. as H. S.: His Life and Work by C. Pfatteicher, St. Louis, 1959); L. Reitter, Doppelchortechnik bei H. S. (Derendingen, 1937); H. Hoffmann, H. S. und Johann Sebastian Bach: Zwei Tonsprachen und ihre Bedeutung für die Aufführungspraxis (Kassel, 1940); H. Moser, Kleines H.-S.-Buch (Kassel, 1940; third ed., 1952; Eng. tr., 1967); C. Roskowski, Die “Kleinen geistlichen Konzerte” von H. S. (diss., Univ. of Münster, 1947); J. Piersig, Das Weltbild des H. S. (Kassel, 1949); G. Toussaint, Die Anwendung der musikalisch- rhetorischen Figuren in den Werken von H. S. (diss., Univ. of Mainz, 1949); G. Weizsäcker, H. S.: Lobgesang eines Lebens (Stuttgart, 1952; second ed., 1956); C. Agey, A Study of the “Kleine geistliche Konzerte” and “Geistliche Chormusik” of H. S. (diss., Fla. State Univ., 1955); J. Heinrich, Stilkritische Untersuchungen zur “Geistlichen Chormusik” von H. S. (diss., Univ. of Göttingen, 1956); H. Eggebrecht, H. S.: Musicus poeticus (Göttingen, 1959); G. Kirchner, Der Generalbass bei H. S. (Kassel, 1960); W. Haacke, H. S.: Eine Schilderung seines Lebens und Wirkens (Königstein, 1960); W. Huber, Motivsymbolik bei H. S. (Basel, 1961); L. Schrade, Das musikalische Werk von H. S. in der protestantischen Liturgie (Basel, 1961); H. Wichmann-Zemke, Untersuchungen zur Harmonik in den Werken von H. S. (diss., Univ. of Kiel, 1967); R. Teilart, H. S.: L’Homme et son oeuvre (Paris, 1968); H. Drude, H. S. als Musiker der evangelischen Kirche (diss., Univ. of Göttingen, 1969); H. Eggebrecht, S. und Gottesdienst: Versuch über das Selbstverständliche (Stuttgart, 1969); O. Brodde, H. S.: Weg und Werk (Kassel, 1972); R. Petzoldt and D. Berke, H. S. und seine Zeit in Bildern (Kassel, 1972); W. Siegmund-Schultze, ed., H. S. 1585–1672: Festtage 1972 (Gera, 1972); R. Grunow, ed., Begegnungen mit H. S.: Erzählungen über Leben und Werk (Berlin, 1974); A. Skei, H. S.: A Guide to Research (N.Y. and London, 1981); M. Gregor-Dellin, H. S.: Sein Leben, sein Werk, seine Zeit (Munich, 1984); H. Krause-Graumnitz, H. S.; Ein Leben im Wert und in den Dokumenten seiner Zeit (Leipzig, 1985); B. Smallman, The Music of H. S. (Leeds, 1985); D. Miller and A. Highsmith, eds., H. S.: A Bibliography of the Collected Works and Performing Editions (N.Y., 1986); G. Spagnoli, ed., The Letters and Documents of H. S., 1656–1672: An Annotated Translation (Ann Arbor, 1990); I. Bossuyt, H. S. (1585–1672) en de historia (Leuven, 1991); M. Heinemann, H. S. und seine Zeit (Laaber, 1993); idem, H. S. (Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1994).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Schütz, Heinrich

views updated May 18 2018


Composer whose work established baroque on German soil; b. Köstritz (Saxony), Germany, Oct. 4, 1585;d. Dresden, Nov. 6, 1672. Apart from an early book of madrigals and an opera whose score is lost, Schütz devoted his long life to church music, originally for Protestant use. As a youth he sang in the chapel choir of Landgrave Moritz of Hesse-Kassel, who sent him to Venice in 1609 to study with Giovanni gabrieli. The effect of this contact with a leading exponent of the new baroque concertato style became immediately evident in Schütz's first published church music, the Psalmen Davids of 1619. After returning to Germany, he entered the service of the Elector of Saxony at Dresden and proceeded to Italianize the musicians as well as the music. He paid a second visit to Italy in 1628 to study with monteverdi, whose more intimate religious music clearly influenced the Symphoniae sacrae of 1629. These were Latin motets for solo voices and instruments, whereas two later sets with a similar title consisted of German motets. In the Kleine geistliche Concerte (two sets, 1636 and 1639) he provides a basso continuo for vocal solos and ensembles, again with German texts. His four Passion settings employ a style of monodic narrative deriving from the simpler kind of plainsong. His Christmas and Easter oratorios, and the Seven Last Words, are of considerable importance in the development of church music in the 17th century.

Bibliography: Sämtliche Werke, ed. p. spitta, (Leipzig 18851927); Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, ed. f. schÖneich et al. (Kassel 1955). h. j. moser, Heinrich Schütz: His Life and Work, tr. c. f. pfatteicher from 2d rev. Ger. ed. (St. Louis 1959). m. f. bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era (New York 1947). p. h. lÁng, Music in Western Civilization (New York 1941). h. eichorn, "Heinrich Schütz: Geistliche Chor-Music, Neue Darstellungsaspekte aus alten Quellen," Musik und Kirche 70 (2000) 97108. h. krones, "Heinrich Schütz und der Tod," Studien zur Musikwissenschaft 42 (1993) 5375. m. lindley, "Heinrich Schütz: intonazione della scalae struttura tonale," Recercare (1989) 4196. e. linfield, "Modulatory Techniques in Seventeenth-Century Music: Schütz, a Case in Point," Music Analysis 12 (1993) 197214. u. weidinger, "Die Weihnachtshistorie von Heinrich Schützein modernes Werk? Sein Beschluß unter dem Aspekt der Moduslehre analysiert," Österreichische Musik Zeitschrift 51 (1996) 520530.

[d. stevens]

Heinrich Schütz

views updated May 17 2018

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'sSymphoniae 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. □

Schütz, Heinrich

views updated May 18 2018

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).

Schütz, Heinrich

views updated Jun 08 2018

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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Heinrich Schutz

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