The Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), the great catastrophe in the history of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, left distinct traces also in the music of the time. Especially in central Germany – since the Reformation one of the most fertile musical regions of Europe – the war often led to a drastic reduction, even the total dissolution of municipal and courtly ensembles. Following the Peace of Westphalia, the revival of the musical institutions despite adverse conditions took place with surprising swiftness, however. But what began as a mere “restitution of the old practices that had become extinct” soon turned out to be fundamental innovations, generating a musical culture that had little in common with the situation before and during the war. In view of this development it is not surprising that the lexicographer Johann Gottfried Walther with regard to the German conditions attributed the beginning of the “musica moderna” to the year 1650 (rather than to the invention of monody and the introduction of the basso continuo around 1600).
This book focuses on the profound caesura in German music history of the mid-17th century and traces the changes in figured church music in the years between about 1640 and 1675 as well as the development of the compositional paradigms in general. In the interplay of source and repertoire studies, analysis and biography the author generates a complex picture of musical practice and transmission, of mutual influence and of the great innovations in the oeuvres of notable and lesser-known German composers (among them Heinrich Schütz, Johann Rosenmüller, Caspar Förster, Johann Theile, Sebastian Knüpfer, Christian Ritter, Johann Philipp Krieger and Dietrich Buxtehude) and their Italian models of the Venetian (Alessandro Grandi, Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Rovetta) and the Roman school (Giacomo Carissimi, Bonifazio Graziani, Vincenzo Albrici, Giuseppe Peranda).