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CD-16251 -
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From Schütz to Rosenmüller:
Composers in South- and Middle-Germany in the second half of the 17th century


At the end of the Thirty Years’ War Germany was devastated. Like in other areas of life people tried to save, in the domain of music, a remainder of normality in midst of the chaos of the war. With the beginning of the peace negotiations in 1644 in Münster and Osnabrück, hope returned for a reorganization of a regular and productive musical life at the courts and in the churches.

Exactly 100 years later Martin Luther had consecrated the chapel in the castle Hartenfels in Torgau, the first reformed church in history, which is the place where the present recording was taken. Meanwhile, in Italy, fundamental changes had taken place.

The old contrapuntal-polyphonic music was replaced by the “monodic principle”: In remembrance of the Hellenic tradition of chant, the composers wrote solistic melody voices which were accompanied by the harmonies of a thorough bass. In the German centres of music they tried to assimilate the new ideas from Italy. On the way to a new “national” culture of music a generation of young composers applied influences from Northern Italy, while keeping in mind their own traditions. Thus in the middle of the 17th century a new musical identity developed in the German speaking countries.

Heinrich Schütz is probably the most important mediator of the music of Northern Italy in the middle of the 17th century. Born in 1585 in Köstriz, Schütz received a scholarship by the landgrave of Hesse to enter the Gymnasium of Kassel. In 1608 he started to study law, but one year later he went on a journey which led him to Giovanni Gabrieli. He remained his student until the death of Gabrieli in the year 1612. He returned to Germany and became conductor at the court in Dresden in 1617.

The beginning of the Thirty Years’ War paralysed all musical activities. Heinrich Schütz went on a second journey to Italy to get acquainted with the art of the new conductor in Venice Claudio Monteverdi. A result of these studies was the performance of the first German opera “Daphne” in 1627 in Torgau. After a period of employment in Denmark and one year before the Peace of Westphalia, in 1648, the second part of his “Symphoniae Sacrae” (op. 10) was published.

The arrangement of the Calvisius-Choral Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr, meine Stärke is a part of this bigger work. In contrast to the first part of his Symphoniae Sacrae from 1629, which is in Latin, he later took texts from the bible, which were translated into German and set them to music. In this recording it is the 18th psalm, a song by which King David expresses his gratitude for rescue and victory. For the composers of his time Schütz was a teacher and set an example. His works were copied and performed throughout Germany. Until his death in 1672 he remained an authority in high demand.

The Italian-born violinist Antonio Bertali (1605 (1605 Verone–1669 Vienna) came to Vienna around 1624. At first he was a musician at the court until he became conductor of the court orchestra in 1649. Already during his first years in Vienna he started to work as a composer too. Unfortunately, only a small part of his 600 or so works has been preserved.

An important source of his works is the Codex Rost, an extensive manuscript collection of church and chamber music which was initiated by the cantor of Baden-Baden, Franz Rost (about 1640–1688). Since 1726 this collection has been in the possession of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. In the Codex Rost there are, besides the works of Rosenmüller and of other composers, five works of Bertali. One of them is the Sonate a deux Violin. In this sonata set for two melody instruments and thorough bass a remarkable dialogue between violin and cornett develops: to search and to find one another, to speak and to listen, to affirm and to deny thoughts and to continue them; the supporting underlying basis is the third voice, the bass.

Johann Rosenmüller was born in Ölznitz in the Voigtland in 1619. The beginning of his promising career was, after his registration for theology at the University of Leipzig, the assistance of the Thomaskantor (cantor of the famous Thomanerchor) Tobias Michael in 1642.

In 1653 the town council offered him the opportunity of succeeding Tobias Michael as Thomaskantor. But his career in Leipzig was finished abruptly when he was suspected of being homosexual. In 1655 Rosenmüller left Leipzig and went, probably via Hamburg, to Venice. Working at the Ospedale della Pieta from 1678 onwards, he won himself, in a short time, a good reputation, so good that J.A. Scheibe in 1736 noted in his “Critischer Musicus”, that “a Rosenmüller ashamed nearly the whole of Italy by his music”.

In Italy, however, he didn’t loose the connection to Germany, he kept in touch with the orchestra of the court in Weimar, among others. At the age of 63 years he returned to Germany to rebuild the orchestra of the court in Wolfenbüttel. At that time he created the “12 Sonate a 2, 3, 4 e 5 stromenti da arco e alti & Basso cont.”. The Sonata Prima and Seconda originate from this collection. Rosenmüller’s sonatas are influenced by the style of the german “Suite” and the venician “Sinfonia di Opera”. IIn 1684 Rosenmüller died at the age of 65 in Wolfenbüttel. He is considered one of the most productive and musicologically most important German composers of the 17th century.

Erasmus Kindermann (1616–1649) who lived in Nuremburg, was—like Rosenmüller—able “to study the new music at its source”. During his journey through Italy in 1634/35 it was possible for him to meet Frescobaldi and Carissimi. After his return to Nuremburg he became second organist at the Frauenkirche and, later, in 1640 he became organist at the church of St Egidien.

His setting to music of the sixth psalm Ach Herr straff mich nicht in deinem Zoren (Sonata a tre Viol. & Alto concertato se piace) is written in the style of Schütz—the instrumental voices with their themes are closely connected with the text and contain independent preludes and interludes. The motto “In vocal music the predominance belongs to the text” is realized here: Analogous to rhetoric, music becomes the language of the tone. In this way the sense of the words is elucidated by musical means.

The Sonata a Violino Solo and the Canzon Quinta originate from Kindermann’s instrumental collection “Canzoni.Sonatae” from 1653. In contrast to Italy and France the violin did not yet predominate in the German speaking countries; in the first half of the 17th century the cornett was used a lot. Thus the Sonata a Violino Solo is a very early example of German violin-music.

Kindermann distinguishes between the older instrumental form “Canzon” and the newer “Sonata”. The structure of both forms is the same. There are several parts which are contrasted one to another by changes of tempo and measure. In 1732 J.G. Walther described the sonata as “a solemn and artistic piece which consists of alternating adagio and allegro”. The canzon, on the contrary, is “performed with short fugues and pretty fantasias and at the end the first fugue is usually repeated to close the piece”.

Kindermann’s Magnificat in the old ecclesiastical hypomixolydian mode (which here, however, resembles G-Major), originates from his “Harmoniam Organicum, Nuremburg 1645”. The Magnificat, the song of praise of the Virgin Mary which follows the Latin text “Magnificat anima mea Dominum” is here the basis of an arrangement for organ which was performed alternating with the verses of the choral.

Samuel Capricornus numbered among the most influential protestant composers in Southern Germany in the 17th century. Born in 1628 in Scharditz (Zercice) in Bohemia as the son of a lutheran minister he first studied theology in Silesia and later went to Vienna to study music. Following the example of Bertali and other composers he finally became a master in creating instrumentally accompanied songs. His musical language is described as “tender, soft, of a deep, rich colour”. From 1651 to 1657 Capricornus was Director Musices in Preßburg and there performed works by composers like Schütz and Rosenmüller. Until his death in 1665 he was conductor of the court in Stuttgart where he published his “Opus Musicum”, the first of his works which was printed. He designated his Surrexit Pastor Bonus (to celebrate Easter) as “Motetto a 2 Voci, Alto con cornettino overo Violino”.

Philipp Friedrich Buchner who was born in Wertheim/Main in 1614 was a representative of the new style in Catholic Church music. After having been employed as an organist at the Barfüßerkirche in Frankfurt/Main from 1634 to 1636 he travelled to Krakau and through France and Italy. Later he converted to Catholicism and worked under the Bishop J.Ph. von Schönborn in Würzburg. In 1647 Schönborn was elected Archbishop and elector of Mayence. Buchner followed him as conductor of the orchestra at the court. In 1652 in Mayence Buchner wrote the Sonata III and IV. Buchner’s vocal compositions are a good example of the “modern style” with only a few voices. Like Schütz and Kindermann Buchner created music following the meaning of the words. His Jesu Dulcis Memoria for alto voice and two treble instruments goes back to the “monastic hymn” which is attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
– © Johannes Hüttenmüller 1997
Translation: Friedemann Hellwig


The cornett (Zink), a horn made of wood or ivory with finger-holes, and a mouthpiece similar to that of a trumpet, was a common instrument in the German speaking countries from the 14th to the 18th centuries. In German sources of the Middle Ages one can find the first references to animal horns—first without, later with finger-holes—which were precursors of the cornett. In the Remede de Fortune of Guillaume de Machaut, dated to the 14th century, a grant cornet d’Alemaigne (“big horn from Germany”) is mentioned. This gives us a clear hint to the instrument’s geographical origin.

The “golden age” of the cornett lasted from the 16th until the early 18th century. Cornett virtuosos were to find at the courts of Innsbruck, Munich, Salzburg and Baden-Baden. An engraving of Hans Burgkmair of 1517 shows the famous cornett-player Schubinger. In Hamburg, Leipzig and Nuremburg the cornett was used by the urban bandsmen who were organized in a guild, the so-called Stadtpfeifer (waits). Cornett music was composed for private and public, for secular and ecclesiastical events where the Stadtpfeifer played. A large amount of compositions were made especially for these musicians.

The compositions for cornett which emerged in these particular surroundings had a number of characteristic features: The preference for unusual instrumentations (for example Bertali) and a preference for high and very high registers (for example Biber and Schütz) The stiller Zink (which means silent cornett, cornetto muto: a straight instrument in opposite to the usual curved cornett) and the Kleinzink (little cornett, cornettino: tuned a fourth above) were frequently used by the composers. Finally the cornett was used particularly as a solo instrument in the vocal music (for example by Buxtehude and Capricornus).

In the German speaking countries cornett music has been composed until the 18th century. Having in mind that cornett virtuosos have been known until the 18th century, the music for cornett comprises not only the compositions especially written for the instrument but the complete edited chamber music too. Works written for violin are particularly appropriate for the cornett as long as they are adequately playable and don’t have any special characteristics for string instruments like double-stops, scordatura and unusual keys.

Composers like Johann Rosenmüller wrote instrumental pieces which are playable on string and wind instruments; the decision on which instrument to play is left to the interpreter. Rosenmüller’s Sonate a 2, 3, 4, e 5 stromenti da arco e alti (“for strings and others”) belong to this group. The attractive combination of violin and zink in both descant voices is surely authentical, having in mind Rosenmüller’s contact to the Stadtpfeifer in Leipzig, his employment as a trombone-player at St. Marc in Venice and the composition of important obligati for trumpet and cornett in his sacred music.
– © William Dongois & Christian Pointet 1997
Translation: Henrike Leclercq, Friedemann Hellwig

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