Music, School of


Date of this Version



The American Organist (October 1985) 19


Copyright © 1985, American Guild of Organists. Used by permission


The year 1985 marks the anniversaries of four celebrated Baroque musicians. Three of them--Scarlatti, Handel and Bach--belong to the late Baroque and were renowned during their time as keyboard virtuosi. The fourth, Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672), belongs to the early Baroque, and his relation to the keyboard is neither so clear nor so recognized. Although Schutz was never acclaimed as a keyboard virtuoso, he was indeed an accomplished organist and remained in close contact with that instrument throughout his long career.

While it is possible that Schutz had already begun keyboard training as a student in Weissenfels, the early formation of his keyboard technique must have taken place for the most part in Kassel during his 13th to his 22nd year at the Collegium Mauritianum, the superb court school supported by the Landgrave Moritz of Hesse. Especially after his voice changed, Schutz seems to have devoted his energy to the mastery of various instruments, this at the prompting of the Landgrave, who was a strong supporter of music and was himself an organist. The Landgrave regarded this training as good cultural formation and as a prudent preparation for future employment. Schutz's organ study also laid an excellent foundation for the study of choral composition, since much organ repertoire at this time still consisted of intabulations (made by organists themselves) of choral works; in this regard, Giovanni Gabrieli and Hans Leo Hassler come to mind, both of whom were organists by profession, but gained great fame as composers of choral music.

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