After his education in Vienna, Heinrich Schütz brought back home to Germany, ideas that would influence the works of J S Bach – and a couple of eras later – Johannes Brahms. What would he have thought of us today, celebrating his contribution to the advancement of Western Classical Music? He’d been given good reason not to expect great blessings during his unusually long and grief-stricken life.
The story of Heinrich Schütz reads like the book of Job. In the year he was born, 596 people from his home town Weissenfels, were killed by an epidemic of the plague. He endured the Thirty Years War that left his chapel, in his own words, “a veritable rubbish‐heap”. Within the space of a few years Schütz lost his parents, his young wife, his only brother and his two little daughters. Toward the end of his life, he began to go deaf. He repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, begged his employer to let him retire. Most extraordinarily, he lived to the age of 87 – far beyond the average life‐expectancy of the time.
As Indra Hughes sheds light on the German composer we find that his ability to write clever and joyful music didn’t wane with age. We also explore the sombre side of his musical output: Some written for Holy Week, some for a stranger reason, as we hear the story of the commissioning Prince who entertained guests by lying in his pewter coffin.
Schütz: Deus in auditorium - BIS CD‐1071
Schütz: Fili mi, Absalon - Sony SK 68 264
Schütz: Die seiben Worte - BIS CD‐832
Schütz: Dank sagen wir – Archiv 289463 046‐2
Schütz: Psalm 110 – MDG 3321170‐2
Schütz: Herzlich leib hab ich dich – HMC 901651
Schütz: Kreuzigung der beiden; Beschluss - ZZT 050402
Schütz: Herr, nun lasses du deinen diener - HMG 501261