The violin sonatas of Heinrich Franz Biber
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Heinrich Franz Biber was born in Wartenberg, Bohemi in 1644, and died at Salsburg in 1704. He is known to have held two posts during his lifetime, from approximately 1666 to 1670 in a court at Kremsier, Moravia, and from then on at Salzburg. His position at the Salzburg court was repeatedly improved, until, by the time of his death he was not only Capellmeister and Lord High Steward, but also had achieved knighthood. Biber wrote a considerable quantity of music, both vocal and instrumental. A virtuoso of the violin, his compositions for that instrument are technically complicated. They are of a typically middle Baroque, North European quality - tonally somewhat modal, rhythmically varied and rough, structurally segmented, and melodically diversified. The majority of Biber's sonatas for solo violin involve the use of scordatura, or abnormal tuning. This practice, which was common during the Beroque period, seems to have been due more to theoretical than to practical considerations. The strings were generally tuned into the key of the piece being performed, and occasionally, in Biber's case, chordal, technical, or coloristic effects not otherwise achievable, were produced. Biber's most extensive work for the violin is a set of fifteen sonatas, consecrated to the fifteen Biblical mysteries, although in the majority of these sonatas, the composer's programatic intentions remain obscure, several of them have a very discernable programatic content. A set of etchings associated with the manuscript are sometimes presumed to provide the programatic source, but in the writer's opinion, there is some reason to suppose that these pictures were a later addition.
This item was digitized by the Internet Archive. Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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