European Countries

Germany Early Music


According to Shoe-wiki, the development of a German musical tradition came relatively late compared to France, Italy and Great Britain. There is very little information on music in Germanic countries in the first millennium, while there are more precise traces of the participation of German convents and their monks in the tradition of the so-called Gregorian chant and in musical treatises: according to a thesis today controversial, German would be the origin of the sequence, due to Notker Balbulus (ca. 840-912). Then the figures of Tutilo (ca. 850-913), Wipo (1024-50), Hermannus Contractus (1013-54), Berno von Reichenau (ca. 970-1048) emerged. The Lied also belongs to the monodic songprofane, the first root of the long and fruitful tradition of the German Lied: its first cultured codification took place in the courtly lyric of Minnesang, developed in the sec. XII-XIV, linked to that of the French troubadours to an extent that it has not yet been possible to establish, but undoubtedly also provided with autonomous characters. Among these we must remember the definition of the so-called Barform – strophic form consisting of two equal stanzas (Stollen) followed by a wider verse (Abgesang), which often takes up part of the Stollen melody at the end -, which also characterizes the subsequent Lied polyphonic and Protestant choir. Among the main Minnesänger we should mention Walther von der Vogelweide and Neidhart von Reuenthal; songs of a popular character or of clerici vagantes are collected in the Carmina Burana. The widespread interest in the Lied is demonstrated by the fact that at its decline the courtly tradition of Minnesang found continuation starting from the century. XV in the artisanal and bourgeois sphere of the Meistersinger, whose main exponent was H. Sachs. In the polyphonic field it does not appear that in Germany there has been a flowering parallel to Ars nova Italian and French. Some compositions for several voices can be found in the fifteenth-century collections of Lochamer and Glogauer Liederbuch, while in the instrumental field K. Paumann (ca. 1415-73) and his organ school established themselves. In the second half of the fifteenth century, the genre that constituted the most original German contribution to Renaissance polyphony was formed: the polyphonic Lied, which reached its peak in the following century (thanks also to the diffusion operated by the musical press) as the preferred form of the bourgeois culture now in affirmation stage. Many sixteenth-century polyphonic elaborations of the Lutheran choir were also inspired by this form. Among the first German polyphonists are cited, in the century. XV, Adam of Fulda (ca. 1445-1505) and H. Finck (ca. 1445-1527), related to Flemish models. Of great importance was the activity of the Austrian Paul von Hofhaimer (1459-1537), organist of Maximilian I, and of the Flemish H. Isaac (ca. 1450-1517). Then emerged the figures of Th. Stoltzer (ca. 1480-ca. 1526) and above all of the Swiss L. Senfl (ca. 1488-ca. 1542).


In the sec. XVI the Protestant Reformation determined the birth of the choir repertoire and laid the foundations for autonomous German musical liturgical forms. The influence of Flemish school musicians permeated: in the second half of the century the dominant figure was Orlando di Lasso (ca. 1532-94), in service at the Munich court. Also through him a growing influence of the Italian style asserted itself and the madrigal, the song and the villanella spread and a polyphonic style more open to chromatism, homorhythm and more inclined to a melodic pre-eminence of the superior voice. In this period the most significant musicians were L. Lechner (ca. 1553-1606) e HL Hassler (1564-1612). The latter, like later M. Praetorius (1571-1621), J. Eccard (1553-1611), J. Gallus (1550-91) and others, also contributed to the spread of the Venetian polychoral style in Germany. Even the Baroque age was characterized, in instrumental music as well as in the taste for monody, by the presence of strong Italian influences, originally mediated with national traditions and coexisting with other French influences. This was a period of very high and intense flowering for Germany, especially in sacred and instrumental music. Dominant figures of the first generation were H. Schütz (1585-1672), whose passions and great sacred production are known (while his Dafne, the first German opera, exemplified on Italian models and composed on a text by M. Opitz); S. Scheidt (1587-1654), who was also one of the founders of the German organ tradition; JH Schein (1586-1630), author of instrumental suites and dances, as well as V. Hausmann (d. Between 1611 and 1614), I. Posch (d. 1622 or 1623) and P. Peuerl (ca. 1575- ca.1625). Organ and harpsichord music received influences from Frescobaldi and the French (as well as from the Dutch JP Sweelinck in northern Germany) and experienced a very rich flowering, whose main exponents were JJ Froberger (1616-67), J. Pachelbel (1653-1706), H. Scheidemann (ca. 1596-1663), D. Buxtehude (1637-1707), N. Bruhns (1665-97) and G. Böhm (1661-1733). Violin and orchestral music (relevant in this genre the French influences, by Lulli, especially on the suite) was represented by the Bohemian HIF von Biber (1644-1704), by J. Rosenmüller (ca. 1619-84), NA Strungk (1640 -1700), G. Muffat (1653-1704) and Ph. H. Erlebach (ca. 1657-1714). The division between Lutheran and Catholic Germany was reflected above all in the field of sacred music (and organ music of a liturgical nature): at the Lutheran courts and churches the sacred concert in German developed cantata sacra, where the choral tradition converged, determining a genre that has no parallel in other countries. The choral was also present in a relevant way in the Passions. Among the authors of sacred concerts and cantatas we should mention F. Tunder (1614-67), M. Weckmann (ca. 1619-74), J. Ph. Krieger (1649-1725), the aforementioned D. Buxtehude, JR Ahle (1625-73), S. Knüpfer (1633-76), J. Schelle (1648-1701), J. Kuhnau (1660-1722) and F. Zachau (1663-1712). At the height of the vocal and instrumental traditions mentioned up to now, JS Bach made a grandiose synthesis. Together with him Händel (1685-1759) was the final figure of the German Baroque, with largely different interests (Italian opera and cantata, oratorio), also linked to his stay in England.

Germany Early Music