Lived: 1585 – 1672
Mostly in: Venice and Dresden
Best Known For: The Christmas Story, Musikalische Exequien, Symphoniae Sacrae Books I to III, Psalmen Davids
Similar To: Monteverdi, Buxtehude, Schein, Scheidt
Excitable high recorders and dulcian speed the shepherds on their way to Bethlehem; the cries of “Ehre sei Gott” pulsate with the whirring of angels’ wings, while the brass accompanying the high priests add a touch of Rembrandt to an unfolding tableau that softens the precision and illustrative thrust of a Dürer woodcut with the festive sparkle of a beguiling instrumental palette. It’s little wonder that out of all Heinrich Schütz’s works, The Christmas Story, first heard during Christmas Day Vespers 1660, is the best known. Some three quarters of a century later, Johann Sebastian Bach would marry theology, meditation and jubilation in his own six-cantata Christmas Oratorio; Schütz, however, is content to deliver his season’s greetings with a brand of finely calibrated...