A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Bernhard, Christoph

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BERNHARD, Christoph, capellmeister at Dresden; son of a poor sailor; born at Dantzic, 1612. He was so poor as to sing from door to door to keep himself from starving. By a Dr. Strauch he was placed in the Gymnasium, where he studied music under Balthazar Erben, and the organ under Paul Syfert. By the aid of the same benevolent individual he was enabled to visit Dresden with letters of recommendation to H. Schutz the capellmeister. There his fine tenor voice so far attracted the notice of the Kurfürst as to induce him to send Bernhard to Italy with the view of perfecting his singing. In Rome he became intimate with Carissimi, and excited the enthusiasm of the Italians by his compositions, amongst others a mass for ten voices. After returning with a party of young Italians to Dresden, he was enabled by the Kurfürst to make a second journey to Italy. The Italians who had returned with him however intrigued against their benefactor, and at length compelled Bernhard to resign his post and take a cantorship at Hamburg: ten years later he was recalled by the Kurfürst Johann George III, and remained in Dresden as capellmeister till his death, Nov. 14, 1692. His facility in counterpoint was very remarkable, and some extraordinary instances of his ability in this direction may be found in his setting of the Latin hymn 'Prudentia Prudentiana' (Hamburg, 1669) in triple counterpoint, as well as in other of his works.

[ F. G. ]