Monday, December 18, 2006

The Rosary Sonatas of Heinrich Von Biber

Today, I will be focusing or talking about the "Rosary Sonatas" also called the Mystery Sonatas of Heinrich Von Biber -- a Baroque Composer of the late 17th Century.

He was renowned for his Sacred Compositions.

Here is some information on Heinrich Von Biber from a couple of links.


"Biber Mystery Sonatas"

by James Clements

In 1676 Heinrich Biber wrote of his ‘faith in stringed instruments (fidem in fidibus)’, demonstrating his love of rhetoric, probably imbued in him by his Jesuit education. Of all Biber’s seven collections of music, however, the expression ‘faith in stringed instruments’ is most evident in the Mystery or Rosary Sonatas, which survive in a beautifully-written manuscript, compiled in the early 1670s, and now housed in the Bavarian State Library. The manuscript contains fifteen compositions for violin and bass, and a concluding Passacaglia for unaccompanied violin. In the absence of a title page, the various titles in use today derive from the fifteen engravings in the manuscript, one placed at the start of each of the first fifteen compositions depicting, in turn, the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary. Similarly, the Passacaglia is accompanied by a drawing of a Guardian Angel holding the hand of a child.

The engravings were probably cut from a Rosary psalter, the name given to the hundreds of devotional books published by Rosary confraternities active in central Europe at this time. These books contained detailed instruction on praying the Rosary, and frequently included biblical quotations, meditations, prayers, and engravings depicting the mysteries. Such books were produced by the Jesuits — a religious order who influenced education and devotional practices more than any other religious group in seventeenth-century Europe — and who were known for advocating Rosary devotion with music. One such confraternity existed in Salzburg during the seventeenth century. It met in the lecture hall — the Aula Academica — of Salzburg’s University, which still contains fifteen paintings depicting the mysteries. The Rosary Sonatas were probably performed in this room.

As Biber mentions in the Latin dedication of the Rosary Sonatas, Rosary devotion was promoted most ardently by the dedicatee of the collection and Biber’s employer, Archbishop Maximilian Gandolph von Khuenberg, who may have attended meetings in the Aula Academica. The paintings in the Aula Academica, the engravings in Biber’s manuscript and Rosary psalters exemplify the importance of imagery in Rosary devotion in the region at this time, which correlates with a principal concept of Jesuit devotion, namely, the use of all five senses when praying. Thus, by contemplating the image, reading the texts, and hearing the music, individuals were supposed to create a mental picture of the mystery, often in minute detail and at great length.

Read more at:

2) Check out more on "The Rosary Sonatas" at this Awesome Link

If anyone wants a link to listen to 3 of the 15 Rosary Sonatas composed by Biber, Contact me via email.

No comments: