|Although most of the combatants of the Thirty Years War were foreign, the war took place almost
completely on German soil, and during these years, intellectual life suffered immensely as the War
significantly disrupted Germany's economic and cultural life. Music could not be held back,
however. Ambitious musicians, especially the Lutherans, were eager for fame and desirous of having
their music printed and published. Johann Hermann Schein, the kantor at Thomaskirche in Leipzig
between 1616 and 1630, published twelve collections books of his sacred and secular music and over
a hundred occasional pamphlets in the decade of the 1620s, and Michael Praetorius (above) at the
Court of Wolfenbuttel produced twenty-two large books on music between 1605 and 1619.
The music scene, which was influenced predominantly from the Netherlands, gave way to that of
Italy. Schein was one of the first to import the early Italian stylistic innovations into German music.
Throughout the first half of the seventeenth century, the city of Leipzig produced about a tenth of all
printed music in German-speaking lands. Although a relatively small city of only 15,000 citizens, it
was renowned as a center for both trade and learning and hosted three trade fairs each year. Leipzig
also enjoyed a rich musical life, its local musicians including Schein and Johann Rosenmuller, with
strong connections to the musicians at Dresden such as Heinrich Schutz, foremost among German
composers of the seventeenth century. A pupil of the Venetian master Giovanni Gabrieli, Schütz
developed a highly personal musical language of rhetorical gestures in order to express the meanings
and emotions of scriptural texts. Another well-traveled German was Johann Jakob Froberger who
studied in Rome with Girolamo Frescobaldi. Froberger was employed off and on by the Hapsburg
court in Vienna between 1637 and 1653 and he usually worked within the Italian tradition.
Between 1590 and 1660, a total of forty printers are known to have worked in Leipzig and music
was published by twenty-three firms. Some printers were probably aided by the composer or
students, because printed music was often marked by mistakes and errors in regards to the various
signs and symbols. To add more to the problems, in the decade of the 1640s, Leipzig was attacked
four times and suffered two outbreaks of the plague, yet its music printing persevered.
Praetorius was born Michael Schultheiß in Creuzburg an der Werra. His father was a pastor who had
been a pupil of Luther, and because of his stand on the Augsburg Interim, the family was forced to
move to Torgau in 1573. Praetorius was one of the most prolific composers of his generation in
Germany, listing over forty volumes of printed music, including sacred and secular works of all kinds
for voices, instruments, choirs and organ. His style was strongly influenced by Schütz, Scheidt and
the latest Italian music, and most of Praetorius’s sacred music is based on Protestant hymns.
His patron was the Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg and Praetorius accompanied him to the city of
Wolfenbüttel to become his Kapell-meister in 1603. The small city, Lower Saxony on the Oker River
south of Braunschweig, developed around the 11th century castle of the dukes of Braunschweig-
His position required much travelling in Germany which helped him earn wide renown as a conductor
of musical performances, an organ consultant and an expert on music and musical instruments. From
1613-1616, Praetorius was in Dresden at the court of the Elector of Saxony, and he later returned to
Braunschweig well-versed in philosophy, theology, and languages, including Greek, Hebrew and
Latin. In addition to his composing and his amazing theoretical and practical understanding of music,
he was also a gifted musicologist.
From 1605 to 1610 he edited Musae Sioniae, a collection of 1,244 arrangements of songs and hymns
in nine volumes. From 1615 to 1619, he edited his 3 volume Syntagma musicum, about sacred and
profane musicology. Energetic Praetorius also wrote much other liturgical music and a set of over
three hundred dances. He died in 1621.
|Music through Hell and Misery