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Thread: Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1620 - 1683)

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    Default Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1620 - 1683)



    Not a lot is known of his early life or musical education. His date of birth is conjectural and may be as late as 1623. The earliest documentation of his life is the certificate for his first marriage on June 28, 1643, which describes him as a cornettist at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. He may have been a court chapel violinist as early as 1635. Schmelzer's colleagues at the chapel included such distinguished composers as Johann Jakob Froberger, Giovanni Valentini, and Antonio Bertali.

    In 1649 he was appointed as a violinist in the court orchestra. He apparently rose to prominence as a violin virtuoso, as well as a composer, and enjoyed a close relationship with Emperor Leopold I, who was a well-known patron of the arts and a composer himself.

    Schmelzer wrote much of the dramatic music played at court from 1655 to 1680. Schmelzer arranged dance suites, which were important to the development of the German orchestral suite. These often began with an intrada, ended with a retirada, and included a variety of dance forms (as many as nine individual numbers). He unified these suites by using shared motives, but achieved variety by being quite free in the succession of tonalities.

    In 1660, composer J. Müller called him "the famous and nearly most distinguished violinist in Europe." It is believed that the Austrian violinist and composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704) was one of Schmelzer's students.

    Schmelzer started publishing his music in 1659. One of his most important sets of compositions was his six violin sonatas called Sonatae unarum fidium from 1664. It was the first collection of sonatas for violin and basso continuo published outside of Italy and showcases some of Schmelzer’s finest work. A solo violin sonata he wrote in 1678, probably the earliest example of an unaccompanied violin sonata was lost.

    In 1671, he became vice-Kapellmeister to the Imperial court under Giovanni Felice Sances as Kapellmeister. In 1673 Schmelzer gained a grant of ennoblement. When Sances died in 1679, Schmelzer petitioned for the post of Kapellmeister. The appointment was delayed because the court was moving from Vienna to Prague to avoid the plague. Schmelzer was appointed Kapellmeister retroactive to October 1 but within three months, Schmelzer had died, probably of the plague.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Some Schmelzer on You Tube:



    Violin sonatas

    Sonata IV. Unarum Fidium, 1664
    Sonata V. Unarum Fidium, 1664
    Sonata VI. Unarum Fidium, 1664
    Sonata "Cucù"
    Sonata "Victori der Christen
    Sonata I. Unarum Fidium, 1664
    Sonata II. Unarum Fidium, 1664
    Sonata III. Unarum Fidium, 1664


    Andrew Manze, violín
    Nigel North, theorbo
    John Toll, keyboard and organ
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Yet more Schmelzer on You Tube



    La Margarita - Music for the Court of Vienna & Prague

    1. Balletto a cavallo (1667)
    Corrente per l'Intrata di Sua Maesta Caesarea & di tutti i Cavaglieri - Giga per Entrata de i Saltatori e per molte altre figure - Allemanda per gl'Intrecci e figure grave introdotto da Sua Maesta Caesarea e Cavaglieri - Follia per nuovo ingresso de i Saltatori & altre operazioni de Cavalli - Sarabanda per il termine del Balletto
    2. Sonata IV a 6 (Sacro-profanus ConcentusMusicus, 1662)
    [Allegro] - Allegro - Adagio - Allegro
    3. Sonata I a 8 (Sacro-profanus Concentus Musicus, 1662)
    [Allegro] - Adagio - Allegro - [Adagio]
    4. Sonata VIII a 3 (Duodena Selectarum Sonatarum, 1659)
    [Adagio] - Allegro - Adagio
    5. Lied «In jenem Gefilde»
    per soprano, archi e basso continuo
    6. Sonata IX a 3 (Duodena Selectarum Sonatarum, 1659)
    [Adagio] - [Allegro] - [Adagio]
    7. Sonata XII a 7 (Sacro-profanus Concentus Musicus, 1662)
    [Allegro] - [Presto] - [Allegro]
    8. Die Fechtschule ('La scuola di scherma')
    Aria 1 - Aria 2 - Sarabande - Courente - Fechtschule - Bader Aria
    9. Lamento sopra la morte Ferdinandi III a 3
    Adagio - Todtenglock - [Canzona] - [Allegro] - [Adagio]

    Balletti (1666-168o):

    10. La Margarita
    11. Serenata - Allemanda
    12. Balletto di Matti
    13. Allemanda
    14. Sarabande
    15. Aria Viennesa
    16. Canarios
    17. La Pastorella - Gavotta styriaca - Hötzer seu Amener - Gavotta bavarica
    18. Gavotta gallica - Gavotta anglica
    19. Campanella - Lamento
    20. Erlicino
    21. Adagio - Allegro
    22. La Margarita


    Armonico Tributo Austria
    Lorenz Duftschmid [conductor]
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Yet more Schmelzer



    Chamber works

    Sonate in A Minor: I. Preludio II. Aria III. Variatio prima IV. Variatio seconda V. Gigue
    Ciaccona in A Major
    Sonate in B-Flat Major: I. Grave (e recitativo) II. Presto e adagio III. Fantaisie sur une basse obstinée IV. Grave e Aria
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    I discovered him when his Vespers were paired with Heinrich Biber in a Gradus ad Parnassum/Junhanel recording. It was a nice discovery.

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    I'm a fan of Johann Schmelzer's Sonata Quarta in D Major from his Sonatae Unarum Fidium (1663). There are two recordings that I find myself returning to--(1) Elizabeth Blumenstock & co. (on You Tube), and (2) Hélène Schmitt on the Alpha label. Both violinists are different in their approach and interpretation, which is something that I enjoy.


    Last edited by Josquin13; Jun-22-2018 at 08:40.

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