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Heinrich Schutz

1585 - 1672

Heinrich Schütz (German: [ʃʏt͡s]; 18 October [O.S. 8 October] 1585 – 6 November 1672) was a German composer and organist, generally regarded as the most important German composer before Johann Sebastian Bach and often considered to be one of the most important composers of the 17th century. He wrote what is traditionally considered to be the first German opera, Dafne, performed at Torgau in 1627, the music of which has since been lost.

He is commemorated as a musician in the Calendar of Saints of some North American Lutheran churches on 28 July with Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel.

Heinrich Schütz, c. 1650–60 (Leipzig),
by Christoph Spetner

Key Works

(b. Kostritz, October 8, 1585; d. Dresden, November 6, 1672)

The greatest German composer of the 17th century. His music, shaped by the Italian practice of the Renaissance and Baroque, served as the cornerstone of Baroque musical art in Germany.

Schutz came from a close-knit, respected bourgeois family of innkeepers and small businessmen. He grew up in Weissenfels and showed musical inclination early, learning to sing angelically as a child. When the local landgrave, Moritz of Hessen-Kassel, stayed at the inn and heard him, Schiitz’s destiny was changed. Moritz prevailed upon the boy’s father to permit him to take charge of his education. At Kassel, Schutz served as choirboy and was schooled at an academy for noble children, where he excelled in languages. In 1608 he entered the University of Marburg to study law, acceding to his father’s wish that he have a “secure profession.” Again he was an outstanding student. But Moritz, quite convinced of his young protege’s unique musical gift, made an offer neither Schutz nor his father could refuse, proposing to pay Schiitz’s way with a two-year stipend (200 thalers a year) to study, in Venice, with Giovanni Gabrieli.

Schutz arrived in Venice in 1609. The bond between teacher and student became so close that Gabrieli persuaded Moritz to foot the bill for a third year, at the start of which Schutz published, as his Op. 1, his Primo libro de madrigali, a collection of five-voice madrigals dedicated to Moritz. Following Gabrieli’s death in 1612, Schutz returned to Moritz’s court as organist. But within a couple of years Johann Georg I, the Elector of Saxony, requested that Schutz come to Dresden as acting Kapellmeister. Moritz had little choice but to comply with the sovereign’s wishes, and give up the musician whose talents he had done so much to develop. In Dresden, Schutz was responsible for music for court ceremonial functions. He published Psalmen Davids in 1619; also that year he married. (His wife died in 1625, leaving two daughters who were brought up by their maternal grandmother; Schutz never remarried.) In 1627 Schutz composed the earliest known opera in German, Dafne, based on the same libretto that had been used in Jacopo Peri’s groundbreaking Dafne of 1598; the music does not survive. The following year Schutz made a second trip to Italy, his goal to familiarize himself with the nascent Baroque style in music. Monteverdi was his guide this time around. Schutz was particularly interested in dramatic monody, the new, highly expressive concertato style of solo vocal writing that made use of basso continuo. He immediately put it to use in his Symphoniae sacrae, which were published in Venice in 1629, shortly before he returned to Dresden. Two years later, music at the Dresden court came to a halt, as Saxony entered the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48). Schiitz soldiered on in service of the Saxon court for another 40 years, through good times and bad, but spent long periods in Denmark and at Wolfenbuttel, the court of the Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg.

He continued writing music until shortly before his death, at 87, with no diminishment of ability. In 1670 he asked a former deputy to write a five-voice psalm setting “in the Palestrina style of counterpoint,” by then a century old, for use at his funeral. The three other pieces performed on that occasion he wrote himself.

Heinrich Schütz, 1627

Heinrich-Schütz-Stele von Berndt Wilde in Dresden

Madrigal - "Seven Last Words from the Cross"

Davids Psalmen

Historia der Auferstehung Jesu Christi (Op. 3)

Cantiones Sacrae I nr. 03 de 10

01. Schütz: Cantate Domino Canticum Novum 3:36
02. Schütz: Venti, Rogo, In Cor Meum 4:06
03. Schütz: Deus, Miseratur Nostri 2:17
04. Schütz: Verba Mea Auribus Percipe I 2:40
05. Schütz: Verba Mea Auribus Percipe II 2:44
06. Schütz: Ego Dormio, Et Cor Meum Vigilat I 4:15
07. Schütz: Ego Dormio, Et Cor Meum Vigilat II 4:22
08. Schütz: O Bone, O Dulcis, O Benigne Jesu I 3:02
09. Schütz: O Bone, O Dulcis, O Benigne Jesu II 2:13
10. Schütz: Quid Commisisti, O Dulcissime Puer I 3:37
11. Schütz: Quid Commisisti, O Dulcissime Puer II 3:39
12. Schütz: Quid Commisisti, O Dulcissime Puer III 5:10
13. Schütz: Quid Commisisti, O Dulcissime Puer IV 3:30
14. Schütz: Quid Commisisti, O Dulcissime Puer V 2:27
15. Schütz: Aspice, Pater, Piissimum Filium I 3:07
16. Schütz: Aspice, Pater, Piissimum Filium II 1:40
17. Schütz: Aspice, Pater, Piissimum Filium III 3:48
18. Schütz: Inter Brachia Salvatoris Mei 4:34
19. Schütz: Supereminet Omnem Scieentam I 4:26
20. Schütz: Supereminet Omnem Scieentam II 2:36

Cantiones Sacrae II 1625 n. 4 de 10

01. Schütz: Ecce Advocatus Meus 4:05
02. Schütz: Sicut Moses Serpentem In Deserto Exaltavit 3:04
03. Schütz: Spes, Mea, Christe Deus 3:06
04. Schütz: Turabor, Sed Non Perturbabor 2:31
05. Schütz: Ad Dominum Cum Tribularer I 2:49
06. Schütz: Ad Dominum Cum Tribularer II 2:35
07. Schütz: Heu Mihi, Domine 4:20
08. Schütz: Dulcissime Et Benignissime Christe 4:07
09. Schütz: In Te, Domine, Speravi 3:10
10. Schütz: Oculi Omnium In Te Sperant, Domine I 0:57
11. Schütz: Oculi Omnium In Te Sperant, Domine II 2:45
12. Schütz: Oculi Omnium In Te Sperant, Domine III 1:29
13. Schütz: Confitemini Domino I + II 1:44
14. Schütz: Confitemini Domino III 1:38
15. Schütz: Domine, Ne In Furore Tuo Arguas Me I 2:57
16. Schütz: Domine, Ne In Furore Tuo Arguas Me II 3:58
17. Schütz: Domine, Ne In Furore Tuo Arguas Me III 3:44
18. Schütz: Domine, Non Est Exaltatum Cor Meum I 2:58
19. Schütz: Domine, Non Est Exaltatum Cor Meum II 2:51
20. Schütz: Domine, Non Est Exaltatum Cor Meum III 1:33

Schutz’s endeavors over a long career were of huge importance to the development of music in Germany. By adapting the techniques of the new Italian theatrical style to German sacred music, he brought the Baroque revolution to his homeland, and infused its musical language with a new grace and expressiveness. The core of his achievement were the “sacred concertos”—sacred vocal works with continuo for a variable complement of solo voices, often with obbligato instruments (usually strings). Among these are the two sets of Kleine geistliche Concerte and the three sets of Symphoniae sacrae, the first with Latin texts, the latter two with German. Schutz wrote motets in both the old polyphonic style and the modern (i.e., with continuo). In addition to these there are the psalm settings of his Psalmen Davids, hybrid works for voices and basso continuo—part motet, part sacred concerto. He also composed three Passions, a Magnificat, a Requiem (the Musicalische Exequien, in German), and a Christmas Story (1660); the latter’s joyous, colorfully Italianate music already points the way to Bach.

Schutz had a strong sense of duty, coping into his old age with difficulties not of his making, writing for what was available when war resulted in reduced performing forces. His works are informed by a spirit of resilience, endurance, and acceptance of both loss and opportunity. In his own life he drew comfort from Scripture, particularly the Psalms, and he wrote music that sought to convey that solace to others, as beautifully and economically as possible.

1627 Dafne - akt 3

Psalm 23 from the Becker Psalter

Symphoniae sacrae I per soli, strumenti e basso continuo 257-276

I. Paratum cor meum, Deus SWV 257
II. Exultavit cor meum in Domino SWV 258
III. In te, Domine, speravi SWV 259
IV. Cantabo domino in vita mea SWV 260
V. Venite ad me omnes qui laboratis SWV 261
VI. Jubilate Deo omnis terra SWV 262
VII. Anima mea liquefacta est SWV 263
VIII. Adjuro vos, filiae Jerusalem SWV 264
IX. O quam tu pulchra es, amica mea SWV 265
X. Veni de Libano, veni, amica mea SWV 266
XI. Benedicam Dominum in omni tempore SWV 267
XII. Exquisivi Dominum et exaudivit me SWV 268
XIII. Fili mi, Absalom SWV 269
XIV. Attendite popule meus legem meam SWV 270
XV. Domine, labia mea aperies SWV 271
XVI. In lectulo per noctes SWV 272
XVII. Invenerunt me costudes civitatis SWV 273
XVIII. Veni, dilecte mi, in hortum meum SWV 274
XIX. Buccinate in neomenia tuba SWV 275
XX. Jubilate Deo in chordis SWV 276

Das ist je gewisslich wahr

Kleine geistliche Concerte

Musikalische Exequien op. 7

1.- Concierto en forma de misa de funeral alemán
2.- Motete: Herr, wenn ich nur Dich habe
3.- Canticum Simeonis: Herr, nun lässest Du Deinen Diener

Anderer Theil kleiner geistlichen Concerten, Op. 9

Die sieben Worte Jesu Christi am Kreuz (SWV 478)

Symphoniae sacrae II per soli, strumenti e basso continuo 341-367


I. Mein Herz ist bereit, Gott SWV 341
II. Singet dem Herren ein neues Lied SWV 342
III. Herr unser Herrscher, wie herrlich ist dein Nam SWV 343
IV. Meine Seele erhebt den Herren SWV 344
V. Der Herr ist meine Stärke SWV 345
VI. Erster Teil: Ich werde nicht sterben, sondern leben SWV 346
VII. Anderer Teil: Ich danke dir, Herr, von ganzem Herzen SWV 347
VIII. Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr SWV 348
IX. Frohlocket mit Händen und jauchzet dem Herren SWV 349
X. Lobet den Herrn in seinem Heiligtum SWV 350
XI. Hütet euch, dass eure Herzen nicht beschweret werden SWV 351

XII. Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener im Friede fahren SWV 352
XIII. Was betrübst du dich, meine Seele? SWV 353
XIV. Erster Teil: Verleih uns Frieden genädiglich SWV 354
XV. Anderer Teil: Gib unsern Fürsten und aller Obrigkeit SWV 355
XVI. Es steh Gott auf SWV 356
XVII. Wie ein Rubin in feinem Golde leuchtet SWV 357
XVIII. Iss dein Brot mit Freuden SWV 358
XIX. Der Herr ist mein Licht und mein Heil SWV 359
XX. Zweierlei bitte ich, Herr, von dir SWV 360
XXI. Herr, neige deine Himmel und fahr herab SWV 361
XXII. Von Aufgang der Sonnen SWV 362
XXIII. Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden SWV 363
XXIV. Die so ihr den Herren fürchtet SWV 364
XXV. Drei schöne Dinge seind SWV 365
XXVI. Von Gott will ich nicht lassen SWV 366

Geistiche Chormusik I

01. Schütz: No. 1. Es wird das Scepter von Juda nicht entwendet werden, SWV 369 3:04
02. Schütz: No. 2. Er wird sein Kleid in Wein waschen, SWV 370 2:50
03. Schütz: No. 3. Es ist erschienen die heilsame Gnade Gottes, SWV 371 3:59
04. Schütz: No. 4, Verleih uns Frieden genädiglich, SWV 372 2:27
05. Schütz: No. 5. Gib unsern Fursten und aller Obrigkeit Fried und gut Regiment, SWV 373 2:21

06. Schütz: No. 6. Unser keiner lebet ihm selber, SWV 374 3:53
07. Schütz: No. 7. Viel werden kommen von Morgen und von Abend, SWV 375 3:31
08. Schütz: No. 8. Sammlet zuvor das Unkraut, SWV 376 2:01
09. Schütz: No. 9. Herr, auf dich traue ich, SWV 377 3:38
10. Schütz: No. 10. Die mit Tranen saen, SWV 378 4:19
11. Schütz: No. 11. So fahr ich hin zu Jesu Christ, SWV 379 3:44
12. Schütz: No. 12. Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt, SWV 380 2:55
13. Schütz: No. 13. O Lieber Herr Gott, Wecke Uns Auf 3:35
14. Schütz: No. 14. Trostet, trostet mein Volk, SWV 382 3:53
15. Schütz: No. 15. Ich bin eine rufende Stimme, SWV 383 4:55
16. Schütz: No. 16. Ein Kind Ist Uns Geboren 4:04
17. Schütz: No. 17. Das Wort ward Fleisch, SWV 385 4:47

Geistiche Chormusik II 

01. Schütz: No. 18. Die Himmel erzahlen die Ehre Gottes, SWV 386 4:56
02. Schütz: No. 19. Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr, SWV 387 11:01
03. Schütz: No. 20. Das ist je gewisslich wahr und ein teuer wertes Wort, SWV 388 5:24
04. Schütz: No. 21. Ich bin ein rechter Weinstock, SWV 389 3:51
05. Schütz: No. 22. Unser Wandel ist im Himmel, SWV 390 4:34
06. Schütz: No. 23. Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herren sterben, SWV 391 5:05

07. Schütz: No. 24. Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh allzeit, SWV 392 4:30
08. Schütz: No. 25. Ich weiss, dass main Erloser lebt, SWV 393 3:27
09. Schütz: No. 26. Sehet an den Geigenbaum und alle Baume, SWV 394 4:20
10. Schütz: No. 27. Der Engel sprach zu den Hirten, SWV 395 2:38
11. Schütz: No. 28. Auf dem Gebirge hat ein Geschrei gehort, SWV 396 4:17
12. Schütz: No. 29. Du Schalksknecht, alle diese Schuld habe ich dir erlassen, SWV 397 4:20


Syphoniae Sacrae III,  part 1


1.Der Herr ist mein Hirt, SWV 398
2. Ich hebe meine Augen auf, SWV 399
3. Wo der Herr nicht das Haus bauet, SWV 400


Symphoniae Sacrae III, part 2


5. O, Herr, hilf, SWV 402
6. Siehe, es erschien der Engel des Herren, SWV 493


Symphoniae Sacrae III, part 3


7. Fegen den alten Sauerteig aus, SWV 404
8. O süser Jesu Christ, SWV 405

Symphoniae Sacrae III, part 4


9. O Jesu süss, wer dein gedenkt, SWV 406
10. Lasset uns doch den Herren, unsern Gott, loben, SWV 407

"Magnificat anima mea" SWV468

Schutz was born in Kostritz in modern-day Germany and received a musical education. First a choirboy, he went in 1609 to study with Giovanni Gabneli in Venice, where he was exposed to Italian musical influences. He moved to Dresden in spring 1617, married the daughter of a court official, and rose in influence as the director of the leading musical centre of Protestant Germany, under the patronage of Johann Georg I, Elector of Saxony.

April 1627 was spent at the Elector's castle at Hartenfels celebrating the marriage of the Elector's daughter.
On 12 April, Schutz premiered his pastoral tragicomedy Daphne. The score has not survived but Daphne is considered the first German opera and initiated a great tradition in Germany. After the marriage, Schutz visited Italy and spent time with Monteverdi in Venice.

In 1635 Prince Heinnch of Reuss, Schutz's patron and friend, died. The Prince left precise details of the music he wanted for his funeral, and Schutz responded by writing his largest and most important funeral work, the Musicalische Excquien. 
The work is in several sections and calls for various combinations of soloists and choirs with a cello and harpsichord accompaniment.

The financial pressures caused by the Thirty Years' War led to a serious depletion of the Dresdencourt's resources. Schutz was therefore pleased to travel to Copenhagen when asked by the Crown Prince of Denmark to arrange the music for his wedding m 1634. He rose to become Kapellmeister, and after a similar post in Hanover returned to Dresden in 1645.

Now approaching 60, Schutz sought retirement. This was denied, but he was allowed to work only six months of each year for the following decade. He sought full retirement on three further occasions, complaining of the shameful state of the court musicians, which failed to inspire him. Eventually, Elector Gcorg died in 1656 and his replacement granted the release Schutz so richly deserved. Schutz continued to compose during retirement, concentrating as he had throughout his life on sacred music. Christmas story, based on Gospel texts, was first performed m 1660; and around 1665 he wrote the St John Passion, one of three Passions from late in Schutz's life, which in line with liturgical practice in Dresden feature unaccompanied voices. It is considered one of the pinnacles of the composer's work and influenced Bach when he came to write his great Passion settings. At the end of his life Schutz suffered from failing eyesight and hearing, and in his eighty-fourth year he died following a stroke. His compositions managed to amalgamate the ornate-ness of the Italian Baroque with the more sober music traditions of Germany: a grafting of styles that was a vital part of Schutz's great contribution to German music.

Rembrandt: Portrait of an anonymous musician, 1633 (Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.).
In Schütz-research regarded as inauthentic and not portraying Heinrich Schütz.

Lucas Passion

Johannes Passion

Matthaus Passion

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