Schütz, Heinrich

Schütz, Heinrich hīn´rĭkh shüts [key], 1585–1672, German composer. A pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli, he later worked with Monteverdi. Often considered the greatest German composer of the 17th cent., he was director of music at the Dresden court from 1617 until his death. Nearly 500 of his works survive. His first German work was his Psalmen Davids (1619), in which he used the new monodic, or declamatory, style. In 1627 he set to music a German translation of Dafne, set earlier in Italian by Jacopo Peri; the work (no longer extant) has been called the first German opera. Most of his works that have been preserved were written for the church, and they mark him as the outstanding master of 17th-century church music. His Symphoniae sacrae (1629, 1647, 1650) show the influence of Monteverdi. Later, in his oratorios and his settings of the Passion as narrated in each of the four Gospels, he combined the Venetian style of alternating choirs and the dramatic declamation of Florentine monody with the German polyphonic tradition. The resultant choral style influenced German music through the time of Handel and Bach.

See biographical study by H. J. Moser (1936, tr. 1959).

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