A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Schütz, Heinrich
[ J. R. M. ]
Correct p. 46 a, l. 4, etc. by the following:—Partly to distract himself from his great sorrow, partly to familiarize himself with the still newer development of music in Italy, with which the name of Claudio Monteverde is chiefly associated, Schütz set out on a second visit to Italy in 1629. He found musical taste in Venice greatly changed since the time of his first visit (1612), 'modern ears were being regaled with a new kind of sensation' ('recenti titillatione'). The new style consisted in the greater prominence given to solo singing, and to intensity of expression in solo singing, the freer use of dissonances, and greater richness and variety in instrumental accompaniment. In a series of works entitled Symphoniæ Sacræ, Schütz endeavoured to turn to account the new experiences he had gained, without however, like his new Italian models, turning his back upon his earlier polyphonic training. He never altogether forgot to unite the solidity of the old school with the piquancy of expression of the new. The first part of 'Symphoniæ Sacræ' appeared at Venice in 1629, and consists of twenty settings of Latin texts, chiefly from the Psalma and the Song of Songs. A second part of Symphoniæ Sacræ, with the sub-title 'Deutsche Concerten,' appeared at Dresden in 1657; a third part also at Dresden in 1650. The two later parts are settings of German Bible texts. They may be described as brief dramatic cantatas for various combinations of voices and instruments, and in virtue of them Schütz may be considered joint-founder with Carissimi of the Dramatic Oratorio. Winterfeld (Gabrieli, vol. iii. pp. 82, etc., also Evang. Kir. Gesang. ii. p. 315) singles out for special notice from the first part, 'Fili, fili mi, Absalom' (David's lament over Absalom), written for bass solo with accompaniment of four trombones, and from the third part, 'Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich' (a cantata for the festival of the Conversion of St. Paul), and 'Mein Sohn warum hast du uns das gethan' (for the first Sunday after Epiphany).
In 1631 and following years Saxony became the scene of war, and one result was the complete disorganization of the Elector's capelle, means failing for the payment of musicians, and the attention of the Elector and his court being occupied with more serious matters than music. Schütz obtained leave in 1633 to accept an invitation to Copenhagen from King Christian IV. of Denmark. The years 1635–41 were spent in wanderings to and fro between different courts with occasional returns to Dresden, Schütz being still nominally in the service of the Elector. The chief works worthy of notice published during these years are two sets of Geistliche Concerte for 1 to 5 voices, with Basso Continuo (1636, 39), the second set being especially remarkable by the composer's frequent directions for the securing of proper expression in his music. (It is to be remembered that marks and terms of expression were not then in vogue.) In 1641 Schütz returned to Dresden to make an effort to reorganize the music, but from want of means his efforts were not crowned with anything like success till 1645 or 47. A work of importance was written and produced about 1645, though strangely enough it was never printed or published in Schütz's life-time, and only appeared in print for the first time in 1873, edited by Carl Riedel of Leipzig. It is a small Passion Oratorio on the Seven Words from the Cross. This work is of importance as contributing some new elements to the development of the later Passion Music. First, the part of the Evangelist is no longer based on the liturgical intonation, as in the 'Resurrection' oratorio of 1623, but takes the form of the new Arioso Recitative. For the sake of variety Schütz divides this part among different solo voices, and sets it twice in the form of a quartet. Next, the work is opened and concluded with a chorus (5-part with basso continue) expressive of the feelings of Christians at the contemplation of our Lord upon the Cross. After the opening, and again before the concluding chorus, there occurs a short 5-part instrumental symphony, which has been aptly described as an ideal raising and dropping of the curtain before and after the action. The instruments to be used are not reified, but strings are probably more intended than anything else. The part of our Lord differs from the other parts in having a 3-part instrumental accompaniment. This probably originated out of the custom in previous 'Passions' (as followed in Scandelli's 'Resurrection' for instance), of setting the words of our Lord in 4 vocal parts. Schütz here improved upon the idea, first timidly suggested by himself in his 'Resurrection,' of giving the words of a single character to a single voice, for the sake of dramatic consistency, and assigning the accompanying parts to the instruments. The way in which this accompaniment is carried out deserves to be noticed. It is neither in the old style nor in the new, but a curious combination of both; the lower part is identical with the basso continue for sustaining the harmony throughout: the other two parts are written in the polyphonic style with the voice, consisting of imitations either preceding or following the vocal phrase. It is well known how Bach in his 'Matthäus-Passion' developed this idea of a special accompaniment to the words of our Lord, surrounding Him as it were with a halo. Naturally there are no arias in the modern sense in Schütz's work, all is in the form of expressive recitative. A touching simplicity and tenderness distinguish the whole work. In 1648 appeared his 'Musicalia ad Chorum Sacrum,' a work in quite a different style from those last mentioned, and showing a reaction in Schütz's mind against the exclusive claims of the modern 'Manier.' It consists of 29 pieces to German words, for 5, 6, and 7 voices, in the old motet or strictly polyphonic style, in which the bassus generalis or continuus may be dispensed with (as the title says, 'Wobei der Bassus Generalis auf Gutachten und Begehren, nicht aber aus Nothwendigkeit zugleich auch zu befinden ist'). In the preface he expresses the opinion that no one will become a capable musician who has not first acquired skill in strict contrapuntal work without the use of the basso continuo. Personal reasons to some extent combined with artistic reasons to produce the reaction in favour of the older school of music as against the new, to which we have referred. From 1647 onwards, in spite of the many personal sacrifices he had made on behalf of the Elector's capelle, as for instance by paying or increasing out of his own salary the salaries of others of the musicians, he appears to have suffered so many annoyances in connection with it as caused him to have almost a disgust for the further cultivation of music at Dresden, and induced him to solicit over and over again in 1651–55 dismissal from the Elector's service. The new Italian element in the chapel was very different from the old, Schütz was getting involved in continual differences and squabbles with a new Italian colleague Bontempi. Italian art was losing its earlier seriousness of purpose, turning its back upon its older traditions, and aiming simply at the amusement of princes and their courts, and thus acquiring a popularity dangerous to higher ventures of art. The Elector however refused to accept the resignation of his Capellmeister, and after 1655 affairs improved somewhat, so far as Schütz was personally concerned, so that he continued quietly at his post for the remaining sixteen years of his life.
In 1657 he published 'Zwölf geistliche Gesänge' a 4 for small choirs, a work which we might call a German Communion and Evening Service, consisting, as it does, mainly of settings of the chief portions of the Liturgy in order, viz. the Kyrie, Gloria, Nicene Creed, Words of Institution (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 composing 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 sinnreichen Inventionen'). It is greatly to be regretted that the next work with which Schütz 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 10 so-called 'Concerte' for various voices and instruments which were to come in at different points of the narrative. The introduction, 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 1 violone; the Chorus of Angels for 6 voices with violins and violas; the words of the Shepherds 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 Schütz's maturer views on instrumentation and the combination of voices and instruments. The last work of Schütz 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 Wolfenbüttel, and now in the library at Wolfenbüttel. The only copy of the other settings is that made by a later hand in 1690, regarding which see below in list of Schütz'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 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 Passion 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 Schütz himself in his Resurrection. 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 complete edition of Schütz'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 authentic Passions without anything to indicate its being by a different author, is sufficient to outweigh mere suspicions. These 'Passions,' compressed, and so far adapted to the requirements of modern performance, have been repeatedly produced with considerable success by the Riedelsche Verein of Leipzig.
To p. 46b, l. 6 from end, add In his later years Schütz'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 time in the reading of Holy Scripture and spiritual books. His last attempts at composition were settings of portions of the 119th 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 pilgrimage.' 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 'Symphoniæ Sacræ,' 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 Schütz. 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 coincidence of Schütz'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 his works by Messrs. Breitkopf & Hartel of Leipzig.
The following is a list of Schütz's works, based on Eitner, Monatshefte für Musikgeschichte, xviii. pp. 476".
I. WORKS PUBLISHED IN LIFETIME.
- Il primo libro de Madrigali de Henrico Sagitario Alemanno, Venice, 1611. Dedicated to Landgraf Moritz of Hesse-Cassel. Contains 18 Madrigals a 5, and 1 Dialogo a 8. (This work is said in Langhans's 'Geschichte der Musik,' i. p. l15, to be lost, but Eitner says a complete copy exists in the Library at Cassel.)
- 3 Pieces d'occasion, entitled 'Concerte,' published separately. Dresden, 1618.
- Psalmen Davids sammt etlichen Moteten und Concerten mit acht und mehr Stimmen, nebenst andern zweien Capellen dass dero etliche auf drei und vier Chor nach Beliebung gebraucht werden können, wie auch mit beigetägten Basso Continuo vor die Orgel, Lauten, Chitaron, etc. Dresden, 1619. Contains 26 Psalms.
- Psalm cxxxiii. for 8 voices with Basso Continuo, composed for his brother's wedding. Leipzig, 1619.
- Syncharma Musicum tribus Choris adornatum, etc. A piece d'occasion for the restoration of peace in Silesia. Vratislaw, 1621.
- Historia der fröhlichen und siegreichen Auferstehung unsers einigen Erlösers und Seligmachers Jesu Christi. In fürstlichen Capellen oder Zimmern um die Osterliche zeit zu geistlicher Recreation füglichen zu gebrauchen. Dresden, 1623. An Oratorio on the 'Resurrection of Christ.' The title shows that it was intended as well for Chamber performance as for Church.
- Elegy on the Death of 'Fürstin Frau Sophia, Herzogin zu Sachsen.' Melody with Basso Cont. Text by Schütz himself. Freiberg, 1623.
- Cantiones Sacræ quatuor vocum, cum Basso ad Organum. Freiberg, 1625. Contains 41 pieces a 4 with Latin words.
- De Vitæ fugacitate, Aria quinque vocum supra Bassum Continuum. Freiberg, 1625. A pièce d'occasion.
- Psalmen Davids, in Teutsche Beimen gebracht durch D. Cornelium Beckern … nach gemeiner Contrapunctsart in 4 Stimmen gestellt … Freiberg, 1628. Contains 92 new melodies by Schütz himself and 11 others harmonized by him. An edition, Güstrow, 1640, was published for use in Mecklenburgh-Schwerin. A later enlarged edition, with melodies for all the Psalms, appeared, Dresden. 1663.
- Symphoniæ Sacræ … variis vocibus ac Instruments accomodatae a 3, 4, 5. 6. Opus ecclesiasticum secundum. Venice, 1629. Dedicated to the Elector of Saxony. Contains 20 settings of Latin texts.
- 'Das ist je gewisslich wahr.' A motet for 6 voices in memory of Johann Hermann Schein, died 1631. Dedicated to Schein's widow and children. Dresden, 1631.
- Erster Theil Kleiner geistlichen Concerten, mit 1, 2, 3, 4, und 5 Stimmen sammt beigefügten Basso Cont. Leipzig, 1636. Contains 17 pieces to German words.
- Musicalische Exequien … mit 6, 8, und mehr Stimmen zu gebrauchen. Dresden, 1636. Contains 3 funeral pieces.
- Anderer Theil Kleiner geistlichen Concerten, mit 1, 2, 3, 4, und 5 Stimmen, sammt beigefügten Basso Continuo vor die Orgel. Dresden, 1639. Contains 31 pieces, texts German and Latin.
- Symphoniarum Sacrarum Secunda Pars … Deutsche Concerte mit 3, 4, 5 nämlich einer, zwo, dreien Vocal- und zweien Instrumental-Stimmen … Opus Decimum. Dresden, 1647. Dedicated to Christian V. of Denmark. Contains 27 pieces. German words.
- Musicalia ad Chorum sacrum. Geistliche Chor-Musik mit 5, 6, 7 Stimmen, beides Vocaliter und Instrumentaliter zu gebrauchen … Opus Undecimum. Dresden, 1648. Dedicated to the Burgermeister etc. of Leipzig out of respect for the Choir of the Thomas-Schule. Contains 29 Motets to German words.
- Symphoniarum Sacrarum Tertia Pars. Deutsche Concerte mit 5, 6, 7, 8, nämlich 3, 4, 5, 6. Vocal und zweien Instrumental-Stimmen … Opus Duodecimum. Dresden, 1650.
- Canticum B. Simeonis. German text of Nunc Dimittis, 2 settings for 6 voices. (Not perfectly preserved.)
- Zwölf Geistliche Gesänge a 4. Für Kleine Cantoreien. Opus Decimum Tertium. Dresden, 1657.
- Historia der Freuden- und Gnaden-reichen Geburt Gottes und Marien Sohnes, Jesu Christi … Vocaliter und Instrumentaliter in die Musik versetzt. Dresden, 1664. A Christmas Oratorio, but only imperfectly preserved.
II. WORKS UNPUBLISHED IN LIFETIME.
- Die Sieben Worte unsers Heben Erlösers und Seligmachers Jesu Christi, so Er am Stamm des heiligen Kreuzes gesprochen, ganz beweglich gesetzt … Parts in manuscript preserved in the Library at Cassel, discovered in 1855 by O. Kade, and first published in Score and adapted for modern performance by Carl Biedel. Leipzig, 1873.
- Historia des Leidens und Sterbens unsers Herrens Jesu Christi. a. Nach dem Evangelisten St. Matthaeus. b. Nach St. Marcus. c. Nach St. Lucas. d. Nach St. Johannes. An older form of the Johannes Passion exists in MS. 1665. Of the four Passions together there exists only a copy made by J. Z. Grundig In 1690, now in the Leipzig Stadt Bibliothek.
- Various single motets and concerted pieces, enumerated by Eitner, M. f. M. G., xviii. pp. 62, 67–70.
III. WORKS LOST.
- 'Daphne.' Opera, performed 1627. German text by Opitz, after the original by Rinuccini.
- A Ballet with Dialogue and Recitative, composed for the marriage of Johann Georg II. of Saxony, 1638. (Another Ballet, 'Von Zusammenkunft und Wirkung VII. Planeten,' existing in MS., is conjecturally ascribed to Schütz in Eitner's List, M. f. M. G. xviii. p. 69.)
All Schütz's MS. remains at Dresden were destroyed by fire, 1760. The same fate befel in 1794 what he may have left at Copenhagen.
IV. NEW EDITION IN SCORE.
Begun on the Tercentenary of the composer's Birthday, 1885.
Heinrich Schütz, Sämmtliche Werke, edited by Friedrich Chrysander and Philipp Spitta, and published by Messrs. Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig. Seven volumes have been issued up to the present time, of which the contents are as follows:
Vol. 1 contains the 'Resurrection' Oratorio, the Passions-Musik after the four Evangelists, the Seven Words from the Cross, and in an Appendix the imperfect Christmas Oratorio, and the older form of the Johannes-Passion.
Vols. 2 and 3 contain the Psalms and Motets of 1619.
Vol. 4, Cantiones Sacræ, 1625.
Vol. 5, Symphoniæ Sacræ, Part I, 1629.
Vol. 6, Geistliche Concerte of 1636 and 1639.
Vol. 7, Symphoniæ Sacræ, Part II. 1647.
[ J. R. M. ]