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Biber, Heinrich Johann Franz von


Baroque church composer influential in the development of violin technique; b. Wartenberg, Bohemia, Aug. 12, 1644; d. Salzburg, Austria, May 3, 1704. Biber was raised to the nobility by Emperor Leopold I, and spent many years with the archbishop of Salzburg, in whose service he composed Masses, Requiems, litanies, and Vespers in the concertato style prevalent in the late baroque era. His Missa Sti. Henrici (1701), e.g., is scored for five-part chorus and orchestra of strings, brass, timpani, and organ. The text is set with care, though there are many textual repetitions. The voice parts contain florid operatic sections, but only to dramatize specific words.

Biber revolutionized violin playing in Germany through his virtuoso violin writing, which employs such innovations as double stops, wide skips, and scordatura (the tuning of the strings to other than usual pitches for special effects), as exemplified in his sonata cycle honoring the "15 Mysteries of the Life of Mary" (1674).

Bibliography: Selected Works in Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich vols. 11, 25, 49, 59, 92, 97, see introd. to each volume. p. nettl, H. F. von Biber (Reichenberg 1926). t. russell, "The Violin Scordatura," Musical Quarterly 24 (1938) 8496. a. leiss, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949) 1:182731. c. brewer, "The Songs of Biber's Birds," 17th Century Music 3/1 (1993) 1, 611. s. dahms, "Bibers Oper Chi la dura la vince," Österreichische Musik Zeitschrift 49(1994) 107113. d. giÜxam, "Die Rosenkran-Sonaten von H. J. F. Biber: ein Zyklus mit Vorgeschichte," Österreichische Musik Zeitschrift 54 (1999) 1422. w. jaksch, "Missa Alleluia : Quellenlage und einordnung einer mehrchörigen messe des Salzburger domkapellmeisters H. I. Fr. Biber (16441704)," Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch 70 (1986) 4549. e. kubitschek, "Bibers Instrumentalschaffen," Österreichische Musik Zeitschrift 49 (1994) 97105.

[w. c. holmes]

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