Heinrich Albert

Heinrich Albert was born at Lobenstein, Voigtland, Saxony, June 28, 1604: nephew and pupil of the famous composer Heinrich Schutz. He studied music in Dresden, but was compelled by his parents to give it up for a legal education at Leipzig. In 1626 he started for Konigsberg, where Stobaus was at that time capellmeister, but was taken prisoner by the Swedes and did not reach his destination till 1628. In 1631 he became organist to the old church in that city, and in 1638 married Elizabeth Starke. He died Oct. 6, 1651.

Albert was at once poet, organist, and composer. As poet he is one of the representatives of the Konigsberg school, with the heads of which he was closely associated.

His church music is confined, according to Winterfeld, to a Te Deum for three voices, published Sept. 12, 1647. He, however, composed both words and music to many hymns, which are still in private use, e.g. ‘ Gott des Himmels and der Erden.’ These, as well as his secular songs, are found in the eight collections printed for him by Paschen, Mense, and Reusner, under the patronage of the Emperor of Germany, the King of Poland, and the Elector of Brandenburg. These collections sold so rapidly that of sonic of them several editions were published by the author. Others were surreptitiously issued at Konigsberg and Dantzig under the title of ‘ Poetisch-musikalisches Lustwiildlein,’wlich Albert energetically resisted. These latter editions, though very numerous, are now exceedingly rare. Their original title is ‘Easter (Zweiter, etc.) Theil der Arien odor AIelodeyen etlicher theils geistlicher theils weltlicher, zu gutten Sitten and Lust dienender Lieder.’ Then followed the dedication, a different one to each part. The second is dedicated to his ‘most revered uncle, Heinrich Sclifitz,’ the only existing reference to the relationship between them. Albert’s original editions were in folio, but after his death an octavo edition was published in 1657 by A. Profe of Leipzig. In his prefaces Albert lays down the chief principles of the musical art, a circumstance which gives these documents great value, as they belong to a time in which by means of the ‘basso continuo’ a reform in music was effected, of which we are still feeling the influence. Mattheson, in his ‘ Ehrenpforte,’ rightly assumes that Albert was the author of the ‘ Tractatus de modo conficiendi Contrapunctam,’ which was then in manuscript in the possession of Valentin Hausmann. In the preface to the sixth section of his ‘Arien’ Albert speaks of the centenary of the Konigsberg University, August 28, 1644, and mentions that he had written a ‘ Comodien Musik’ for that occasion, which was afterwards repeated in the palace of the Kurfiirst. Albert was thus, next after H. Schiitz, the founder of German opera. Both Schdtz’s ‘Daphne’ and Albert’s ‘ Comodien-Musik’ appear to be lost, doubtless because they were not published.

Albert’s ‘ Arien’ give a lively picture of the time, and of the then influence of music. While the object of the opera as established in Italy was to provide music as a support to the spoken dialogue, so the sacred ‘concert’ came into existence at the same time in Italy and Germany as a rival to the old motets, in which the words were thrown too much into the background. But the sacred ‘concert’ again, being sung only by a small number of voices, necessitated some support for the music, and this was the origin of the ‘ basso continuo.’ Albert, who, on his arrival at Konigsberg, had which he was closely associated. undergone a second course of instruction under Stobaus, attained in his music a peculiar character which may be described as the quintessence of all that was in the best taste in Italy and Germany. Owing to the special circumstance that Albert was both a musician and a poet and no small poet either-ire has been rightly called the father of the German ‘Lied.’ His place in German music may be described as a pendant to the contemporary commencement of Italian opera.