MATTHIAS WECKMANN (1616 - 1674)
Matthias Weckmann was born probably in 1616 in Niederdorla, near Mühlhausen, in Thuringia. In about 1628, he settled in Dresden, where he served as a chorister under Heinrich Schütz in the Court Chapel. The musical life of the Dresden court, influenced by Italian style, and the outstanding character of Heinrich Schütz had a definitive influence in the formation of Weckmann’s style of composition, above all in his religious concertos and sonatas for three or four instruments with basso continuo. In this period he studied the organ with Johann Klemn, a pupil of Christian Erbach.
In about 1633, Weckmann moved to Hamburg to study with Jacob Praetorius the Younger, organist of the Hamburg Petrikirche. In Hamburg Weckmann came to know the rich, highly developed style of North German organ music.
After this period of study in Hamburg, Weckmann returned in 1637 or 1638 to Dresden, where he became court organist and a member of the Electoral Chapel. In the winter of 1649–1650 Johann Jacob Froberger visited Dresden and the Elector set up a contest between these two musicians, in which Weckmann was the victor. This competition marked the beginning of a close friendship between these two great musicians, with exchanges of letters and compositions throughout their lives and mutual inspiration. This influence can be traced, in particular, in Weckmann’s freely composed works.
In 1655 Weckmann, after a brilliant performance at his audition, took up the position of organist at the Hamburg Jacobikirche and in the twenty years that followed he made a profound mark on the musical life of the city. In 1660, after acquiring citizenship, he founded a Collegium musicum, the performances of which attracted very considerable attention. Weckmann died on 24 February 1674 and was buried in the Jacobikirche.