Born: 444; Bramberg, England
Died: June 9, 1527; Vienna, Austria
The origins of Heinrich Finck are not known with certainty, but he may have been born in or near Bramber. What is known of Finck, who was quite successful in his day, is that he spent most of his life at the court of the Polish kings. As a boy, after 1454, he seems to have served in the chapel choir at Cracow. We know for certain also that in 1482 he enrolled in the University of Leipzig. By 1489 records show that he had returned to Cracow, whereRead more he befriended Conrad Celtis. Later in that same year, he is found in Vilinis at the court of Alexander, Prince of Lithuania. When the prince became King of Poland, Finck returned with him to Cracow. More than a decade later, 1510, Finck took an appointment to the court of Ulrich, the Duke of Wurttemberg. This appointment spelled the end of the easy security that Finck had known until then. Ulrich was on the cusp of marrying Sabina of Bavaria, and he wanted the celebration to be of legendary pomp. To that end, Finck composed the impressive nuptial mass for the Duke, the Missa sex vocum. The wedding took place on March 22, 1511.
Possibly in the same spirit that wanted such a lavish wedding, the Duke soon brought his land to the edge of ruin with wasteful spending, forcing him to make some serious cuts to his expenses; the first thing to suffer was the arts, of course, and especially music. Finck's only reason for being there, the choir, was disbanded in 1514. For greater reasons impossible to know, this change initiated a long period of wandering for the already aging composer. For the next 13 years, until his death, he served under various masters, including, briefly, Emperor Maximilian I, and, from 1519 on, Archbishop (and later Cardinal) Matthaus Lang, in Salzburg. He also spent a period of several years in seclusion at the Scots Monastery in Vienna. It seems these years were unhappy ones for Finck. But in 1527 the tides turned favorable again and he received one of his most illustrious appointments, albeit rather too late. Now well past 70 years old, the composer was made court Kapellmeister for King Ferdinand. Unfortunately for Ferdinand, Finck died that same year, on June 9. Read less