VIE: The Sonata in the German Baroque

German ensemble music at the beginning of the seventeenth century was chiefly influenced by Italian older-type dances and English consort music. Schein 's Banchetto musicale [1617] shows both coupled with the favorite German scoring for mixed wind and string instruments. The trio sonata was developed by Paul Peuerl [d. 1650?], Johann Vierdanck [1600?-1660], and Johann Rosenmüller , the last of whom amplified the form by adding a slow introduction or 'sinfonia'. All these men composed sonatas for four, five and six instruments which maintained the slow-quick alternation of their Italian models while writing in a considerably more contrapuntal style. The long quasi-fugal themes of Rosenmüller's movements strongly resemble those of contemporary German organ canzonas, but without the strict 'patterning' to be found in Scheidt 's contrapuntal writing. In central and southern Germany a school of violinist-composers explored the virtuoso technique of their instrument to the utmost: at a time when Italian violinists had virtually abandoned the earlier baroque experiments in multiple stopping of strings, the Germans had perfected a polyphonic technique of great subtlety by the use of 'scordatura' (i.e. altering the tuning of the strings). The greatest of the group, Heinrich Biber , wrote a cycle of fifteen Mystery Sonatas (c. 1675), each a meditation on a 'mystery' of the Catholic devotion known as the Rosary, in which every sonata has a different tuning. Biber mingles church and chamber sonata movements with 'arias', ground-bass variations and elaborately rhapsodic preludes in a stylistic synthesis typical of many later German composers.

See also: VE: The Sonata in the Italian Seicento and VIIID: The Solo and Trio Sonata in the Italian Settecento

The Composers (and some others)

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