Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)

In the 1630's Schütz' ambitions as a composer were thwarted by the decimation of all courtly activity by the Thirty Years War. Very few musicians were actually left to perform chapel duties. In 1619, Schütz had published large scale collections for performances of up to forty players and singers. In both books of the Kleine Geistliche Konzerte, virtually his only published works from the 1630's, the most performers called for in any of the pieces are eight. These are however greatly serious masterpieces, and like any great artist Schütz made a virtue out of necessity. Schütz' setting of the text on how to behave at a banquet from Ecclesiasticus seems like an odd choice for a musical text. Certainly in 1647, the year of the Symphoniae Sacrae II, and the year before the Peace of Westphalia ended the horrific Thirty-Years War, the jewel encrusted in the ring must have seemed like Schütz' Protestant court surrounded on all sides by Catholic lands.

©Craig Smith

Back to Other Notes & Translations