Johann Heinrich Schmelzer: Notes and Commentary

Johann Heinrich Schmelzer was one of the most important violinists of the Baroque period, and an important influence on later German and Austrian composers for violin. He made substantial contributions to the development of violin technique and promoted the use and development of sonata and suite forms in Austria and South Germany. He attained a high reputation in a field (violin playing and violin composition) which at the time was dominated by Italians; indeed, one traveler referred to him in 1660 as “nearly the most eminent violinist in all of Europe.” Schmelzer’s Sonatae unarum fidium of 1664 was the first collection of sonatas for violin and basso continuo to be published by a German-speaking composer. It contains the brilliant virtuosity, sectional structure, and lengthy ground-bass variations typical of the mid-Baroque violin sonata. Austrian violinist and composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704) is believed to have been one of Schmelzer’s students. He lived from 1620-1623 to 1680.—Excerpted from Wikipedia

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