Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672)

Was the greatest German composer before J. S. Bach.  Evidence of his importance is the oft-repeated designation of Schutz as the father of German music.  He was the composer of the first German opera, "Daphne."  His contacts with Italian music of the late 16th century and early 17th century led him to write many dramatic religious vocal works to German texts that introduced the new Baroque style into Germany.  He adapted the recitative, the thorough bass, and the concertato principle to works for the Lutheran service, and laid the foundation for the great art of dramatic church music in his "Symphoniae sacrae" (Sacred Symphonies), "Cantiones sacrae" (Sacred Songs), and "Kleine geistliche Konzerten" (Little Sacred Concerti), which later blossomed into the cantatas and passion music of Bach and his contemporaries.  Recent performances based on research into Schutz's music have revealed a starkness and simplicity of dramatic presentation.  These characteristics are apparent in such works as "Die Sieben Wortte..." (The Seven Last Words) and his passion settings to the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John.