31 December 2008

Schütz and Bach

Following up on my recent commentary on Heinrich Schütz's Geistliche Chormusik 1648, wherein I touched on the relative lack of influence of Schütz on Bach, I came across these two links to Youtube performances by the Calmus Ensemble of Leipzig which illustrate this point nicely. One is of a (very lovely) short motet (really a strophic part-song) by Bach, Dir, dir Jehova, and the other is of Schütz's Also Hat Gott die Welt Geliebt, from the aforementioned GCM 1648. Bach's vocal style is much more "instrumental;" Schütz's owes much of its texture and compositional technique to "Renaissance" composers such as Palestrina, Victoria, and, especially, his teacher Giovanni Gabrieli.

Of course, a good deal of this is just due to the passage of time. Schütz was a hundred years older than Bach. But this isn't the entire explanation. Bach was definitely familiar with, and influenced by, Michael Praetorius, who was born even earlier than Schütz. On the other hand, Schütz's influence on Johann Theile and Matthias Weckmann is very clear, whereas it's not noticeable in the music of their contemporaries Pachelbel or Buxtehude, both of whom left their imprints on Bach's style.

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