Heinrich Biber: Man of Mysteries
Saturday, August 12, 2006 at 05:27AM
Stephen Brookes

August 12, 2006
biber.jpgBorn today in 1644:  the unconventional composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, whose works are so complex, idiosyncratic and wildly inventive that he's sometimes compared with Charles Ives.

Biber's best known for his "Mystery Sonatas" for violin, which date from about 1670. Hunt them down and feast; with their unconventional scordatura tuning and relentless spiritual intensity, they've become practically the object of cult worship . Rachel Barton Pine played the glorious Passacaglia for solo violin (a set of 65 variations on a baroque ground base) at her recital here at the National Gallery of Art in March.  Aside from being a tour-de-force of violin technique -- with more virtuoso passagework, complex double- and triple-stopping and springing bowings than you could shake a bow at -- this was music of pure scorching radiance and power.

Musicologist and Biber specialist  James Clements has a good essay  on the violin works, with some more general information on the composer here. Downloadable scores of much of Biber's music (including the Passacaglia) are available here.


Article originally appeared on stephen brookes (http://www.stephenbrookes.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.