Musica BalticaIn Germany almost the whole treasury of 17th century music fell victim to wars, fires and annual spring cleanings. The libraries of Riga, KÃ¶nigsberg, Danzig and Stettin perished in the last war. What survived had been in the hands of bibliophiles: Sebastien de Brossard's collection in Paris, Duke August von Braunschweig's collection in WolfenbÃ¼ttel and the DÃ¼ben family collection in Stockholm. The most complete archive of northern German vocal and instrumental music is constituted by the so-called DÃ¼ben Sammlung, a manuscript collection started in 1660 by the DÃ¼ben family of German composers in the employ of the Swedish court and kept since 1733 in Uppsala. This is a rear example of not only the richness of the repertoire of a 17th century court orchestra but even more of the varieties of music played in the Baltic countries which had come into the sphere of Swedish influence after the Thirty Years War and the peace of Westphalia.
Here can be found printed Ä¢lamentsÄ£ (Ä¢Klag-GesÃ¤ngeÄ£) by organists from Riga and Stettin which they had composed on the occasions of death in the local ruling families. There are also imaginative instrumental pieces by composers not connected with the court or having only the flimsiest of ties with it. There are many pieces from Venice and Vienna, filtered here possibly through LÃ¼beck. After the Iron Curtain has come down, it is not easy to get used to the idea of musica baltica but it exists, due to the patronage of LÃ¼beck and German merchants. The emergence of an independent tradition then or later was not facilitated by the historical reality, turbulent even after the Thirty Years War. Still, the music imported from Vienna, Venice and central Germany could be so successfully enriched with the local dialects that at the end of the Hanseatic period a master could emerge, Dietrich Buxtehude, whose work summed up the aspirations of his predecessors which, with the addition of his own ideas, could merge into a uniform northern German style. Thus joined, improved and ennobled, the Hanseatic style contributed greatly to the music of the German late baroque period and the style evolved by Bach and HÃ¤ndel.
Even longer than the English-influenced pavan - here represented by an anonymous Fantasia for 7 viols and by a piece by the LÃ¼beck violinist Baltzar for 3 violins and basso continuo - in the cold north survived the choral. While LÃ¼tkeman had only tentatively transferred it form the ecclesiastical into the secular sphere, then Meder in 1700 incorporated it boldly as a character piece for ethnic minorities into programmatic music. Johann Fisher, Lully's wild pupil, invested it with Ä¢serious pathosÄ£. The suite, the most vigorous genre of the middle class and student music-making, was not yet standardised, but for the sake of compositional nobility it had already abandoned its Ä¢dance valueÄ£. The capriccio - a sequence of heterogeneous small phrases was taken to perfection by Johann Vierdanck, a student of the Mantovan violin virtuoso Carlo Farina.
The Ä¢realÄ£ sonata was overshadowed by all this. Inventory lists show that sonatas from central Germany, Dresden and especially Vienna were highly appreciated but the local production was rare. The few surviving northern sonatas vary greatly. There are significant stylistic differences between the works of Vincenco Albrici who was from 1652 to 1654 the orchestral conductor at the court of Queen Christina, and joined her later in her exile, and Andreas Kirchoff, influenced by Schmelzer. Dietrich Becker's sonata for four violins is resounding music for the town hall antechamber, full of technical brilliance and sophisticated nuances of sound.