Johannes Walter

(1496 - 1570)

German cantor and composer. In 1517 he belonged to the chapel of Friedrich the Wise of Saxony, and became a friend of the reformers Luther and Melancthon, and a collaborator with Luther in the organization of music for the Reformed services, including the provision of chorale melodies. He was cantor at the Latin school at Torgau in 1526 -- one of the first to occupy a type of post held by many leading Protestant musicians in Germany -- and from 1548 directed music at the Saxon court chapel there and later at Dresden (where the court transferred). He retired to Torgau in 1554.

Walter's Geistliches Gesangbüchlein of 1524 marked a historical beginning for Lutheran music as the earliest collection of chorale settings; it also included motets. He published several more similar volumes and a book of Magnificats, while his Passion settings and instrumental canons survive in MS. Walter did not create a new form in his approach to the chorale; rather he adapted the best techniques of existing secular polyphonic song by Senfl and others, slightly modernizing their contrapuntal idiom or writing in a fairly homophonic manner, so that the text was clear. The chorale itself usually lay in the tenor part.

A Partial Johannes Walter Discography | IVC: Evangelical Church Music