Heinrich spent his early years in several places in northern Germany under the influence of
two religions. There is some confusion as to whether Schütz was a Calvinist himself or a
Lutheran by conviction, raised in a Calvinist home. When Schütz
was thirteen, Landgrave Moritz of Hessen (1572-1632), who had spent the night at the inn
owned by Schütz's father, heard the boy Heinrich sing. The Landgrave asked Christof Schütz to
allow his son to attend the Collegium Maurizianum in the city of Kassel.
He eventually came under the influence of Georg Otto (1544-1619) while attending the
Collegium Maurizianum, because this man was the head of the court choir during those years. Schütz did well during his school days. He received instruction in math, logic, liberal arts, Latin, Greek, French, and Hebrew.
Great stress was laid on music in both theory and practice. His broad education definitely singles
him out among all the masters of music.
Schütz left Kassel in 1608 to study law at the University of Marburg. He hadn't been
there long when Landgrave Moritz came to visit and encouraged him to continue his studies
in music. He was offered funds for a trip to Italy to study there. Schütz accepted his offer.
Venice, at the time of Heinrich's visit (1609-1612) was the center of the highest musical culture for much of Northern Europe as well. Schütz became the student of
Giovanni Gabrieli (1555-1612).
Shortly after his return from Italy Schütz was appointed second court organist in
Kassel by Landgave Moritz. Johann Georg I of Electoral Saxony,
was so impressed with Schütz after hearing one of the choirs he conducted, that he desired
to secure his services. Landgrave Moritz surrendered the musician to him on a supposedly
temporary basis. The appointment of Schütz as director of the electoral chapel in Dresden was finalized in 1617.
On June 1, 1619, Schütz was married to Magdalene Wildeck. They had two daughters and his wife
died September 6, 1625
In 1628 Schütz undertook a second journey to Venice, where he remained for about
a year. The reason for this was to escape the opening years of the
Thirty Years War, and to keep informed of new musical developments in Venice.
From 1630 to 1637 the Black Death infected the city of Dresden, and death struck many
of his friends and relatives. Due to the war there also was a lack of funds and Schütz had
trouble getting paid, so he requested and was granted a leave of absence. He then went
to work for Prince Christian at the court of Denmark. Many trips to Copenhagen followed, the last
one in 1644.
Even at an old age, Schütz was still able to compose new
musical works and revise works written earlier. Heinrich Schütz died on November 6, 1672, at the age of 87.
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