Hans Ulrich Franck, Der geharnischte Reiter (1643)
Thirty Years of War: Henrich Schütz and Music in Protestant Germany
AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE AND CONCERT at Boston University, May 11-12, 2018
Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering, 610 Commonwealth Avenue, BU, admission free
The Thirty Years War (1618–1648) changed the political and physical landscape of central Europe, laying waste to broad swathes of territory and bringing widespread death and disease to warrior and civilian alike. The 400th anniversary of this war provides an occasion to revisit old issues, gain new perspectives, and better understand a body of music that, created in times of greatest adversity, includes some of the most important achievements of its era.
Friday, 11 May, 9:30-12:30
- Joshua Rifkin (Boston University): “Thirty Years of War and Henrich Schütz”
- Thomas Marks (The Graduate Center, CUNY): “The Sighs of Doves and Turtledoves: Singing the Politics of Suffering in German Lutheran Devotional Song (1618–1648)”
ABSTRACT: The sigh of the dove and turtledove was interpreted in Christian theology since the time of Augustine as a sonic signifier of spiritual sadness. The dove groaned because of its continuous rejection of worldly pleasures and its painful yearning to return to heaven, while the widowed turtledove sighed from her [sic] eternal longing to reunite with her deceased life-partner in heaven. This paper examines the reception of this topos in Lutheran devotional music during the Thirty Years War. In it, I examine a collection of Lutheran musical texts that reference the sighs of doves and turtledoves and contextualize these songs with other contemporary sources such as broadsheets and devotional literature. From this analysis, I argue that the emotional states associated with the sighs of doves and turtledoves, and thus the musical works that made reference to them, were inflected with novel political connotations characteristic to the contemporary Lutheran experience of the war.
Drawing from imagery in the Song of Songs, Lutherans began to associate especially the voice of the turtledove with the suffering and persecution of the Lutheran Church. Abandoned during the war and pursued by enemy birds of prey, the true Church and bride of Christ groaned and sighed for the return of her life-partner who would protect her from aggressive Catholic enemies. This re-conceptualized topos had implications on the ways in which Lutherans would have felt the emotional effects of contemporary confessional politics. Hearing the actual voices of doves and turtledoves in a particular soundscape might have prompted the attentive Lutheran to think on her own persecution and suffering. Performing the musical works that expounded on this emotional topos, though, effectively reenacted the voices of these birds in the musical medium. As German Lutherans sang about the sad sighs of doves and turtledoves, they filled their emotional communities with the sounds of their own groaning, sighing lamentations.
- Joanna Carter Hunt (Florida State University): “A Tale of Two Cantors: Heinrich Grimm (1592-1637) and Thomas Selle (1599-1663) during the Thirty Years War”
ABSTRACT: During the tumultuous religious and political struggle known as the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), the lives of countless musicians were upended and their career trajectories greatly altered. In May 1631, the city of Magdeburg was occupied and burned to the ground by the Imperial troops of Ferdinand II. Many citizens who survived the devastation, such as Magdeburg’s cantor Heinrich Grimm, were forced to relocate and rebuild their lives elsewhere. Archival evidence suggests that Grimm initially hoped he could find employment in the more politically and financially stable city of Hamburg, and fled with his family to the North. After his departure from Magdeburg, the former cantor described himself as a “musician in exile” (HenricusGrimmius Holtzmündenʃis, Muʃicus olim/ Magdeburgicus, nunc exul) until he was able to find work in Braunschweig, first, perhaps, at the court of Duke Friedrich Ulrich and, later, as organist of St. Andreas Church in 1632, where he remained until his death.
Grimm’s influence as a musician as demonstrated by his extant musical and theoretical works, as well as by his pupils’ own accounts seems stymied in comparison to that of Hamburg’s cantor Thomas Selle. Beginning in 1624, Selle held successive teaching posts in various north German cities with increasing responsibility and in 1641 assumed the prominent position of cantor in the populous Hanseatic city. His duties there included organizing the music in Hamburg’s four main churches and its cathedral, teaching music at the St. Johannis School, and coordinating other civic musical events. During his lengthy tenure in Hamburg, Selle composed nearly 300 pieces, including a work celebrating the Peace of Westphalia, and enjoyed supervising its thriving musical culture until he died in 1663. Similarly, Heinrich Grimm served as Magdeburg’s cantor between 1617 and 1631. His position likewise involved composing music for liturgical purposes and civic performances, as well as directing the polyphonic choral music in the city’s principal churches and the cathedral. Grimm was also responsible for general music instruction at Magdeburg’s Altstadt School. Once the city was destroyed, however, Grimm’s career path changed and he was forced to adapt to his unfortunate circumstances. Without the benefit of the resources available to Selle in Hamburg, or the stature of his position, Grimm was less prolific as a composer and author as he might otherwise have been. While he did eventually secure a position in Braunschweig, a city with an active musical life and a court, Grimm was displaced by the Thirty Years War and his career and output suffered as a result.
This paper seeks to compare the careers of Selle and Grimm to illustrate some of the issues facing musicians, more specifically cantors, during the Thirty Years War. Aside from documents and correspondence, some of their own compositions address the hardships of war and suffering. Although one can only speculate about the influence Grimm may have garnered had he not become “a musician in exile,” a comparison of his career with that of Selle provides an interesting perspective on the two similarly positioned cantors and their productivity as the war unfolded.
2 – 5 pm
- Derek Stauff (Hillsdale College) “Religious Exile in Seventeenth-Century Lutheran Music”
ABSTRACT: Religious persecution and exile left their imprint on the social fabric of seventeenth-century Germany. Intent on establishing confessional uniformity in their lands, the Catholic Habsburgs suppressed Protestantism across Bohemia, Austria, and other areas of central Europe. To avoid forced conversion, many Protestants emigrated, especially to Lutheran central Germany. Over the past decades, historians have begun to gauge the social, political, and economic repercussions brought on by these self-described refugees. Their impact, I argue, also extends to the music and musical institutions of central Germany.
Prominent Lutheran composers like Andreas Hammerschmidt and Stephan Otto were themselves refugees and worked for patrons in a similar predicament. But regardless of their first- hand experience as migrants, composers, including Schütz, set texts that subtly allude to exile. Their texts use the word Elend, with its potential double meaning of both general misery and, more specifically, exile. They also set texts whose original biblical context could be linked to exile. Some of these passages figure prominently in Lutheran devotional literature directed to refugees. The Lutheran repertoire includes not just settings of the most obvious exile passages, like Psalm 137 (“An den Wassern zu Babel”), but also of Psalm 42 (“Wie der Hirsch schreit”) and Psalm 126:5 (“Die mit Tränen säen”). Schütz’s “Auf dem Gebirge” from his Geistliche Chor-Muic offers a more complicated example, a setting of words from Matthew 2, which the evangelist took from Jeremiah 31. Both chapters connect to exile. Furthermore, in their printed music, composers introduced iconography evoking the topic. The frontispiece to Hammerschmidt’s Dialogi (1645), for instance, shows Manasseh, the exiled king of Judah, who in 2 Chronicles 33 repented of his wickedness and was allowed to return home. The engraving thereby encourages readers to link Hammerschmidt’s music to exile and hope for return.
Lutheran composers like Schütz or Hammerschmidt and their patrons may have chosen such texts and images with confessional migration in mind. In the same way that refugees and their hosts cultivated devotional literature related to exile, they could also raise the issue in sacred music to comfort migrants, encourage the goodwill of locals, or honor patrons for their charity.
- Hannah Spracklan-Holl (University of Melbourne): “Protestantism, Nationalism and the Idea of ‘German-ness’ in a Seventeenth-Century Singspiel: Neuerfundenes Freuden Spiel genandt FriedensSieg (1642)”
ABSTRACT: This paper explores the idea of a “German” national and social identity in the period between the Treaty of Goslar (1642) and the Peace of Westphalia (1648) as expressed in Neu erfundenes Freuden Spiel genandt FriedensSieg (1642), a Singspiel performed at Wolfenbüttel in 1642 with text by Justus Georg Schottelius (1612–1676) and music by Duchess Sophie Elisabeth (1613–1676). A notable feature of Schottelius’ text is his use of the word “German” as a descriptor for a person, rather than the German-speaking court or region from which that person comes. The latter was far more common during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries until the foundation of the German Confederation in 1815 which, although unsuccessful, represented a desire for a unified German identity.
Throughout FriedensSieg, Protestant faith emerges as an essential characteristic of “German-ness” in two distinct ways: through anti-Habsburg sentiment, and in the use of historical and allegorical figures who espouse Protestant beliefs as characters in the Singspiel. During the Thirty Years’ War, Wolfenbüttel and its surrounding duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg was part of the anti-Habsburg alliance which was partially distinguished by its predominately Protestant confession. In 1642 the Treaty of Goslar forced Holy Roman Empire troops out of Wolfenbüttel, allowing Duchess Sophie Elisabeth and her husband, Duke August the Younger of Braunschweig-Lüneburg (1579–1666), to return to the ducal court after a period of exile, an event which was celebrated with a performance of FriedensSieg. This paper demonstrates how Duke August’s regaining of power at this time is paralleled in FriedensSieg with the Singspiel’s portrayal of the Germanic chieftan Arminius, who became a symbol of German unification in the nineteenth century. Particular focus is paid to the ways in which August’s leadership and, significantly, his faith, are represented musically as ideal cornerstones of seventeenth-century German identity, as well as to the connections between seventeenth-century German-language Singspiele and nationalism in the seventeenth-century German-speaking lands.
- Liza Malamut (Boston University) “The Wartime Trombonists of Schütz’s Dresden”
ABSTRACT: This presentation will address the role of trombonists in seventeenth-century German sacred music in the context of the Thirty Years War. While recent scholarship has uncovered valuable information about the function and affekt of the trombone in post-Reformation Lutheran music, fewer studies have delved into the connection between trombone music, trombonists, and the socioeconomic climes associated with this time period.
Focusing on works by Heinrich Schütz, I will explore this connection as it existed in Dresden from 1615-1672. Schütz’s trombone writing provides a window into the working lives of seventeenth-century trombone players. In turn, accounts of these trombonists — payment records, letters, and eyewitness records — reveal the interconnection between Schütz’s use of the trombone and the conditions surrounding wartime and postwar music-making in the sacred spaces of Dresden.
5:30 – 7:30 Reception / Dinner
8 pm: Concert: “Thirty Years of War: Music of Henrich Schütz,”
directed by Joshua Rifkin – Marsh Chapel, 735 Commonwealth Avenue, BU, admission free
Saturday, 12 May, 9:30-12:30
- Bettina Varwig (University of Cambridge), Keynote Lecture. “Music in the Thirty Years’ War: Towards an Emotional History of Listening”
- Arne Spohr (Bowling Green State University): “With ‘Seiten-Kunst’ to ‘Fürsten Gunst’ – The Careers of the Anglo-German Musicians William, Christian and Steffen Brade in the Context of the Thirty Years’ War”
ABSTRACT: Historiography has often emphasized the decline of musical culture in Germany between c.1620 and 1650 due to the effects of the Thirty Years’ War, leading to the social marginalization of many musicians. However, an over-generalizing view on war-struck Germany as a ‘cultural desert’ tends to overlook individual cases of musicians who found means to be professionally successful despite the decline of musical patronage during the war. It is the aim of my paper to analyze individual strategies of professional careers of musicians, to show how they adapted to and coped with the effects of war, not only in order to survive, but also to even achieve professional success.
The careers of three members of a British family of musicians active on the continent will serve as case studies: the career of the string player and composer William Brade (ca. 1560-1630), and those of his sons Christian (ca. 1595-after 1654) and Steffen Brade (ca. 1600-1649). The careers of these three musicians in northern Germany and Denmark span over 50 years, from 1594, when William is first recorded as an instrumentalist at the Danish court, to the death of Steffen in 1649.
Through my close reading of little-known sources such as the funeral poems published on the occasion of William’s death, as well as occasional poetry dedicated to Steffen by two of Germany’s leading poets of the time, Martin Opitz and Simon Dach, I will discuss both the changing structures of musical patronage and musical institutions, and strategies of adapting to these changes. While father Brade was able to achieve his success solely based on his musicianship, when court and city patronage still made this possible, his two sons successfully pursued dual careers: Christian as lutenist and court valet (Kammerdiener), Steffen as lutenist and soldier. I will demonstrate in particular how Steffen was able to use music as a cultural capital for advancing his career as a soldier, a career that by far surpasses that of his father William, even though (or, in view of his career as soldier, rather because) it took place during the devastating Thirty Years’ War.
- Keith Polk (University of New Hampshire): “Currents and Cross Currents in German Ensembles on the Eve of the Thirty Years War”
ABSTRACT: Heinrich Schütz was recruited as a choir boy in his early teens by the count of Hessen in Kassel. He spent the remainder of his professional career (discounting study years in Italy) as a musician in a German court, first for a few years in Kassel, then, from 1615 onward at the court of the elector of Saxony. He was shaped by the court environment of his early years, and subsequently, the conditions of court life laid out the boundaries of his creative efforts. As a composer, he was constantly aware of, and in fact remarkably sensitive to, the performance resources available to him. Sill, while we are well informed concerning Schütz’s biography, and have available a great deal of his music, the nature of the performing forces that he could draw upon is a topic that has received limited study. It will be the purpose here to survey the context of the performance conditions in the early seventeenth century of German courts in general, and those of Dresden in particular.
2 – 5 pm
- Motoaki Kashino (Boston University): “Schütz’s Pfeifers: Stadtpfeifer Traditions and Performing Forces for Schütz during the Thirty Years War”
ABSTRACT: In choosing his instrumental forces, later works of Heinrich Schütz shows a unique tendency of pairing the same instruments to accompany vocal ensembles at a time. Even in works that were presumably performed as a whole, such as Historia der Geburt Jesu Christi, SWV 435, six different pairs of instruments (violetta (viola da braccio), violin, viola, recorder, clarino, and trombone) are called for, one pair at a time, in most of the intermediums—some of the instruments even making only one-time appearance in the whole piece. Considering the Stadtpfeifer tradition of doubling, one can argue that the performance of the piece did not employ twelve performers dedicated to play these six pairs of different instruments. Rather, performers were likely to have doubled many of these instruments. This writing will explore the development of such style by tracing major works of Schütz throughout 30 Years’ War period and beyond in order to draw a clearer picture of the performance practice of the time.
- Torbjørn Ottersen (Polonsky Academy, The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute): “Echoes of Heaven, Echoes of Schütz – and Echoes of the Thirty Years’ War? Rudolf Mauersberger’s Dresdner Requiem”
ABSTRACT: The Allied bombing of Dresden in February 1945 left widespread death and destruction in its wake. Above the ruined city centre towered the dark shell of the city’s Protestant Hauptkirche, the Kreuzkirche. When the church could reopen in 1955, it did so with a new addition: a Schütz chapel, at the instigation of Rudolf Mauersberger. Mauersberger, Kreuzkantor 1933–71, was an active promoter of Schütz’s work throughout his term in office. It is thus not surprising that when he decided to erect a musical memorial to the bombing, his Dresdner Requiem (1947–8, rev. until mid-1960s), Schütz was an obvious source of inspiration.
Using the Catholic requiem mass as its formal scaffolding, Mauersberger’s Requiem offers an apocalyptic and paschal trajectory from death and destruction to resurrection and redemption, achieved through extensive Biblical centos of Mauersberger’s creation and the deployment of significant vocal and instrumental forces. Mauersberger spread his performers across three separate locations, and, as has frequently been noted, his inclusion of a ‘2. Chor (ferngestellt)’, is clearly based on the ‘chorus secundus’ of the Musikalische Exequien III.
After an apocalyptic Dies irae-section the Requiem reaches its climax: the extensive Sanctus section, in which the three choirs’ echoing intonation of the word ‘Heilig’ seems an almost literal rendition of Praetorius’ 1613 description of the resounding ‘Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus’ of the heavenly choirs. Like Schütz in the Musikalische Exequien, Mauersberger offers an intimation of the heavenly afterlife (cf. Varwig 2011).
Echoes of Heaven, echoes of Schütz – and echoes of the Thirty Years’ War? Perhaps. The Musikalische Exequien themselves, of course, were written during the war, and not untouched by the way novel means of warfare brought the war close home (Varwig 2011) – precisely as happened with the WWII bombing war. Furthermore, in German historiography Schütz had become, especially after 1918, a figure who suffered through that war, and salvaged German music after it (Varwig 2011). And Mauersberger’s ‘Sanctus’ is, suggestively, intertwined withJerusalem, du hochgebaute Stadt, a hymn written during, and in response to, the Thirty Years’ War. So among the echoing choirs an historical echo might, indeed, also be perceptible.
- Round Table (David Dolata, Florida International University), Chair
Conference Organizing Committee: Victor Coelho (Boston University), Joshua Rifkin (Boston University),Bettina Varwig (University of Cambridge)