Heinrich Ignaz Franz Von Biber (1644-1704)

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A Grand Day Out20190329

Donald Macleod explores the music, and what little is known of the life, of Baroque master Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. Today, the focus is on Biber’s magnificent Salzburg Mass.

For many years after its score turned up in a Salzburg grocer’s, the Missa Salisburgensis wasn’t regarded as a work by Biber. The scholars of the Salzburg Mozarteum, to whom the choirmaster who made the momentous discovery took the score for identification, attributed it to one Orazio Benevoli and dated it to 1628, when, it was supposed, the mass was performed at a service for the consecration of the new Salzburg Cathedral. It was not until the 1970s that the attribution to Benevoli was contested, when it was spotted that the watermarks on the score’s paper placed it much later in the century. Further musicological detective-work followed, and nowadays most scholars concur that the Missa Salisburgensis is without doubt the work of Biber, and that it was composed for the service that marked the high-point of a grand eight-day festival not in 1628 but in 1682, when the city celebrated the 1100th anniversary of the founding of the diocese of Salzburg. Our performance was recorded in the monumental space where it was first heard – that of Salzburg Cathedral, rebuilt to its original design after a single Allied bomb destroyed its colossal dome in 1944.

Balletti a 6 (1. Sonata)
Clemencic Consort
René Clemencic, director

Missa Salisburgensis (Kyrie, Gloria)
The Amsterdam Baroque Choir and Orchestra
Ton Koopman, conductor

Sonata a 7
Jaap ter Linden, cello
Albert Rasi, Michele Zeoli, violone
Stephen Keavy, Jonathan Impett, Michael Harrison, Robert Vanryne, David Hendry, Mark Bennet, trumpet
Martin Ansink, timpani
Ton Koopman, conductor

Missa Salisburgensis (Credo)
The Amsterdam Baroque Choir and Orchestra
Ton Koopman, conductor

Sonata Sancti Polycarpi
Jaap ter Linden, cello
Albert Rasi, Michele Zeoli, violone
Stephen Keavy, Jonathan Impett, Michael Harrison, William O’Sullivan, Robert Vanryne, David Hendry, Simon Gabriel, Mark Bennet, trumpet
Martin Ansink, timpani
Ton Koopman, conductor

Missa Salisburgensis (Sanctus, Agnus Dei)
The Amsterdam Baroque Choir and Orchestra
Ton Koopman, conductor

Producer: Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

Donald Macleod on Biber. Today, the focus is on Biber's magnificent Salzburg Mass.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

Career Move20190325

Donald Macleod explores the music, and what little is known of the life, of Baroque master Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. Today, Biber runs an errand for his boss, but absconds en route.

Biber was born in the small town of Wartenberg (present-day Stráž pod Ralskem) in Bohemia – now in the Czech Republic, then part of the Holy Roman Empire – where his father worked as gamekeeper for the local bigwig. Biber’s first appearance in the historical records is in his early 20s, when we find him in the service of Karl Liechtenstein, prince-bishop of Olomouc in central Moravia. Liechtenstein was a huge music fan who maintained a first-rate choral and instrumental ensemble at nearby Kroměříž Castle, where he also kept an impressive library of musical scores – to this day, the source of all Biber’s surviving autographs. We’ll probably never know the precise circumstances that drove the 26-year-old Biber to leave the Prince-Bishop’s service so abruptly, but when the opportunity presented itself, he seized it with both hands. Dispatched on a lengthy trek to the Austrian Tyrol to collect some instruments from a celebrated violin-maker there, he only made it around three-quarters of the way: as far as Salzburg, where he did a bunk, trading in his old employer for a new and even more illustrious one, Prince-Archbishop Maximilian Gandolph von Küenburg. In Salzburg, Biber put down roots, married the daughter of a wealthy local businessman, fathered eleven children and gradually rose through the court ranks to become Kapellmeister. His risky career-gamble had paid off.

Missa Alleluia (Kyrie)
Soloists of St Florianer Sängerknaben
Markus Forster, Alois Mühlbacher, alto
Markus Miesenberger, Bernd Lambauer, tenor
Gerhard Kenda, Ulfried Staber, bass
Ars Antiqua Austria
Gunar Letzbor, conductor

Sonata ‘La pastorella’
Reinhard Goebel, violin
Phoebe Carrai, cello
Thierry Maeder, organ

Battalia a 10 (Sonata di marche)
Le Concert des Nations
Jordi Savall, conductor

Sonata violino solo representativa
Patricia Kopatchinskaja, baroque violin
Anthony Romaniuk, harpsichord

Partita VI in D (Harmonia Artificioso-Ariosa)
The Purcell Quartet

Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

Donald Macleod on Biber. Today, Biber runs an errand for his boss, but absconds en route.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

He Who Endures, Wins20190327

Donald Macleod explores the music, and what little is known of the life, of Baroque master Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. Today, Biber’s music for church and stage.

Biber is known to posterity primarily as a composer for the violin, yet much of his time in Salzburg was spent in the production of ecclesiastical and theatrical music. Of his stage works, including at least three operas and fifteen ‘school dramas’, only one has survived, his opera Arminio, or Chi la dura la vince – ‘He who endures, wins’. Its score has certainly endured, but the opera, despite many fine moments, is rarely heard nowadays. Many of Biber’s masterly sacred works were composed with the cavernous spaces of Salzburg Cathedral in mind, and make full use of the spatial possibilities afforded by that monumental building.

Arminio, or Chi la dura la vince: Act I, Scene 1 (extract)
Salzburger Hofmusik
Wolfgang Brunner, conductor

Psalmi de B. M. Virgine, from Vesperae longiores ac breviores, 1693: Dixit dominus; Laudate pueri; Laetatus sum; Nisi Dominus; Lauda Jerusalem; Magnificat.
Cantus Cölln
Konrad Junghänel, conductor

Arminio, or Chi la dura la vince: Act I, Scene 7)
Gotthold Schwarz, baritone (Arminio)
Salzburger Hofmusik
Wolfgang Brunner, conductor

Arminio, or Chi la dura la vince: Act II, Scene 10 (extract)
Barbara Schlick, soprano (Giulia)
Salzburger Hofmusik
Wolfgang Brunner, conductor

Arminio, or Chi la dura la vince: Act III, Scene 9
Gerd Kenda, bass (Tiberio)
Hermann Oswald, tenor (Germanico)
Markus Forster, alto (Vitellio)
Florian Mehltretter, bass (Seiano)
Salzburger Hofmusik
Wolfgang Brunner, conductor

Litaniae Sancto Josepho
Cantus Cölln
Concerto Palatino
Konrad Junghänel, conductor

Producer: Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

Donald Macleod on Biber. Today, Biber's music for church and stage

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

Mystery Man20190326

Donald Macleod explores the music, and what little is known of the life, of Baroque master Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. Today, Biber’s best-known work – his Mystery, or Rosary, Sonatas.

Unpublished during his lifetime and unknown outside of a small circle at the Salzburg court, for more than two centuries Biber’s Rosary Sonatas existed in a single source – a mistake-peppered presentation copy which appears to have passed through the hands of a succession of private collectors before being deposited, eventually, in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. The sonatas – there are fifteen of them, organised in three groups of five – describe events in the lives of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, starting with The Annunciation and culminating in The Coronation of the Virgin. Heard as a complete cycle, they take the listener on an emotional journey of extraordinary range and intensity, whose rich and varied palette of colours Biber summons up by means of a technique called scordatura – literally, ‘mis-tuning’. From the second sonata on, Biber deliberately mis-tunes the violin in 14 different ways, resulting in subtly different tone-colours and allowing the performer to play combinations of notes that would be impossible on a normally-tuned instrument. The collection ends with a Passacaglia for unaccompanied violin that while returning to the standard tuning in which it opened, brings the cycle to a transcendent conclusion.

Sonata 1 in D minor: The Annunciation (The Rosary Sonatas: The Five Joyful Mysteries)
Riccardo Minasi, violin
Bizzarrie Armonichi

Sonata 2 in A major: The Visitation (The Rosary Sonatas: The Five Joyful Mysteries)
Rachel Podger, violin
Jonathan Manson, cello
Marcin Świątkiewicz, organ and harpsichord
David Miller, archlute

Sonata 6 in C minor: The Agony in the Garden (The Rosary Sonatas: The Five Sorrowful Mysteries)
Walter Reiter, violin
Timothy Roberts, chamber organ
Elizabeth Kenny, theorbo

Sonata 10 in G minor: The Crucifixion (The Rosary Sonatas: The Five Sorrowful Mysteries)
John Holloway, violin
Davitt Moroney, harpsichord
Tragicomedia

Sonata 14 in D major, The Assumption of the Virgin (The Rosary Sonatas: The Five Sorrowful Mysteries)
Riccardo Minasi, violin
Bizzarrie Armoniche

Passacaglia in G minor for unaccompanied violin
Andrew Manze, violin

Produced by Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

Donald Macleod on Biber. Today, Biber's best-known work \u2013 his Mystery, or Rosary, Sonatas

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

Preserved In Print20190328

Donald Macleod explores the music, and what little is known of the life, of Baroque master Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber. Today, the five remarkable printed collections of instrumental music that spread Biber’s name across Europe.

That music in the Western Classical tradition has enjoyed, by and large, a relatively good survival rate, is down to the fact that unlike improvised music, it has a system of notation that allows it to be written down. Even so, much music from the past has been lost – a prime example being Bach’s cantatas, of which it’s been estimated that around 40 percent have gone missing in action. That’s because they existed only in manuscript – often just in a single copy, which could easily be inadvertently mislaid, damaged or destroyed. The manuscript score of Biber’s great Missa Salisburgensis, which is the focus of tomorrow’s programme, nearly ended up as wrapping paper in a Salzburg grocer’s shop; if a local choirmaster hadn’t happened to be dropping by for some groceries at just the right moment, the huge – that’s to say, 82 by 57 cm! – folios of Biber’s magnum opus might very well have been split up and dispersed among dozens of peckish customers, bundled around their Bratwurst, Pumpernickel and Apfelkuchen. The odds of survival are immeasurably lengthened for music that gets into print, ensuring a wide distribution of multiple copies. Only six collections of Biber’s music appeared in print during his lifetime, five of them instrumental; so it was his instrumental music, and particularly his music for violin, that formed the basis of his reputation, both among his contemporaries and for many years after his death.

Sonata No 11 in A (Sonatae tam Aris, quam Aulis servientes)
Freiburger Barockorchester Consort

Partita No 3 in A minor (Mensa sonoris, seu Musica instrumentalis)
Purcell Quartet

Sonata No 3 in F (Sonatae violino solo)
Monica Huggett, violin
Sonnerie

Sonata No 12 in A major (Fidicinium sacro-profanum)
Ars Antiqua Austria
Gunar Letzbor, violin 1 and direction

Partita No 1 in D minor (Harmonia artificioso-ariosa)
Rebel

Producer: Chris Barstow for BBC Wales

Donald Macleod on Biber. Today, the printed collections that spread Biber's European fame.

Donald Macleod offers a weekly guide to composers and their music.

201901Career Move20190325
201902Mystery Man20190326
201903He Who Endures, Wins20190327
201904Preserved In Print20190328
201905A Grand Day Out20190329