Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/806

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790

��SCHUTZ.

��the Kyrie, Gloria, Nicene Creed, Words of In- stitution (usually appointed to be sung in early Lutheran liturgies), a Communion Psalm, Post Communion Thanksgiving, then a Magnificat and Litany, etc. From 1657-61 our composer would seem to have been occupied with the task enjoined on him by the new elector, that of com- posing additional melodies for Becker's Psalter, already mentioned ; work which apparently gave him more trouble than it was worth, and hindered him from devoting himself to other more congenial work. In the preface to this Psalter, 1661, he says that ' to confess the truth, he would rather have spent the few remaining years of his life in revising and completing other works which he had begun, requiring more skill and invention ' (' mehr sinnreicheu Inventi- onen '). It is greatly to be regretted that the next work with which Schutz occupied himself has been preserved to us in so incomplete a form. It was a setting of the story of the Birth of our Lord, and as a Christmas oratorio would have been a fitting companion- work to his earlier 'Easter' oratorio and his later 'Passions-Musik.' Only the part of the Evangelist, in recitative with bass accompaniment, has been preserved to us; but the preface to this (1664) contains a specification of i o so-called 'Concerte' for various voices and instruments which were to come in at different points of the narrative. The intro- duction, for instance, consisted of the title (' Die Geburt, etc.') set for 4 vocal and 5 instrumental parts ; the message of the Angel was set for soprano solo with accompaniment of 2 violettas and i violone ; the Chorus of Angels for 6 voices with violins and violas ; the words of the Shep- herds for 3 alto voices with 2 flutes and bassoon ; of the Wise Men for 3 tenor voices with 2 violins and bassoon ; of the High Priests for 4 bass voices and 2 trombones ; and so on with the rest of the work. The loss of these concerted movements is the more to be regretted, as they would doubtless have shown Schiitz's maturer views on instrumentation and the combination of voices and instruments. The last work of Schtitz preserved to us, and perhaps his most famous work, is his setting of the story of the Passions, four settings in all, after the four Evangelists. This work was never published in his own life-time, and the only original copy extant is that of the St. John Passion, presented by the composer himself to the Duke of Wolfen- buttel, and now in the library at Wolfenbuttel. The only copy of the other settings is that made by a later hand in 1690, regarding which see below in list of Schiitz's works. As we now have the work, it is for voices alone without instruments. It is, therefore, as if the composer here wished to denounce the mere external advantages of the newer concerted and dramatic style for the sake of showing how the spirit of it could be retained and applied to the purely vocal and older polyphonic style. For what specially distinguishes this Passions-Musik, is the series of brief choruses of surprising dramatic energy and truth of expression, yet never overstepping

��SCHUTZ.

the bounds of devout reverence inspired by the subject. Otherwise the work is more purely liturgical than later Passions, not having arias and chorales to interrupt the narrative and give that variety of interest so needed for modern concert performance. Each Passion is opened according to old custom with a setting of the title ('the Pas- sion etc ') and closed with a devotional chorus in motet style, the text taken from some familiar Church hymn. The rest of the work is written in unaccompanied recitative, though parts of it may have been meant to be accompanied in the manner suggested by Schutz himself in his Re- surrection. In the ' St. Matthew ' the recitative has more of melodic expressiveness than in the other Passions. The ' St. Mark ' is peculiar in combining the greatest monotony of recitative with the richest dramatic character in the choruses. Dr. Spitta, the editor of the new com- plete edition of Schiitz's works, is inclined, on this and other grounds, to have some doubts as to the authenticity of the 'St. Mark Passion ' (see his preface pp. xx, xxi.) But the fact of its being joined with the other undoubtedly authen- tic Passions without anything to indicate its being by a different author, is sufficient to out- weigh mere suspicions. These ' Passions,' com- pressed, and so far adapted to the requirements of modern performance, have been repeatedly produced with considerable success by the Riedel- sche Verein of Leipzig.

To p. 466, 1. 6 from end, add In his later years Schiitz's powers began to fail, especially his sense of hearing ; and we are told, when he could no longer go out, he spent the most of his timeiri the reading of Holy Scripture and spiritual books. His last attempts at composition were settings of portions of the iipth Psalm ; and no verse indeed of that psalm could have been more fittingly chosen as the motto of both his personal life and his art-work than that on which he was last engaged, but left unfinished : ' Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrim- age.' He is the true predecessor of Handel and Bach, not so much in the mere form of his work, as the spirit. If in the dramatized Biblical scenes of his 'Symphoniae Sacrae,' he is more especially Handel's predecessor, in his Passion Music he is Bach's. Both Handel and Bach simply brought to perfection what lay in germ in Heinrich Schutz. His great merit consists in this, that at a time when the new dramatic style was threatening the complete overthrow of the older polyphonic style, he saw how to retain the advantages of both, and laboured to engraft the one upon the other. It was thus he prepared the way for the greater work of Handel and Bach after him. The rather singular coinci- dence of Schiitz's birth-year being exactly a hundred years earlier than the birth-year of Handel and Bach, brought about on the occasion of the keeping of the bicentenary of the two latter, in 1885, a great revival of interest in the work of their forerunner, which has had this practical result at least, the beginning of the publication of a monumental edition of

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