Born: December 21, 1628; Zercice, Czech Republic
Died: November 10, 1665; Stuttgart, Germany
Samuel Capricornus was a talented and versatile composer following in the footsteps of Heinrich Schütz. In addition to pursuing music he also studied theology, philosophy, and Latin. His early activities are not documented until his appearance in Vienna in 1649. His stay there was not permanent and he next appears in a much different context in Strasbourg. In sharp contrast to the sumptuous counter-Reformation culture of the Habsburg capital,Read more Strasbourg presented a more modest Protestant alternative. Unable to find a permanent post there, he returned home where he worked as the director of music at Bratislava (Pressburg). He finally gained a notable and permanent position in 1656 when he was appointed kapellmeister to the Wurttemberg Court in Stuttgart, where he remained the rest of his life.
Like Schütz, Capricornus was successful in combining Italian concertante style with the German motet and his style occupies the territory between Schütz and Bach. His motets often feature colorful writing for voices and obligato instruments, including virtuoso parts for viola da gamba. While the bulk of his output is sacred music, he was also an important early figure in music for the stage -- all of which has been lost. Capricornus' printed works attained considerable popularity and several collections were published posthumously. A large part of his output is scattered across Europe in manuscripts that still await further investigation. His popularity and success were attested to by none other than Schütz himself, who, after receiving a copy of his 1665 collection Opus Musicum Schütz replied: "your remarkable works have been passed on to me and they fill me with delight. Go on serving God and his Church in this fashion." Read less
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