Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/805

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.

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 com- plete 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. Schiitz obtained leave in 1633 to accept an in- vitation 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, Schiitz 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 I to 5 voices, with Basso Continuo (1636, 39), the second set being especially re- markable 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.) j In 1641 Schiitz returned to Dresden to make an effort to reorganize the music, but from want of means his efforts were not crowned with any- thing 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 Schtitz'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 con- tributing 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 Schiitz 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 n anything else. The part of our Lord differs from the other parts in having a 3-part instru- mental accompaniment. This probably origi- nated 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. Schiitz 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 ac- companying 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 'Matthaus-Passion ' developed this idea of a special accompaniment to the words of our Lord, surrounding Him as it were with a halo. Na- turally there are no arias in the modern sense in Schiitz's work, all is in the form of expressive recitative. A touching simplicity and tender- ness 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 Schiitz'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 Noth- wendigkeit 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 with- out 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 ap- pears 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, Schiitz was getting involved in continual differ- ences 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 Schiitz was personally concerned, so that he continued quietly at his post for the remain- ing sixteen years of his life.

In 1657 he published 'Zwolf geistliche Gesange ' 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.