Heinrich Schutz was a main composer of the mid-Baroque musical time period. His musical style and compositions show the influence of his teachers Gabrieli and Monteverdi. He wrote in mostly polychoral and concertato styles and is mostly known for his sacred music works especially his Passion settings. The Thirty Years War also influenced Schutz’s musical style as it transformed into a more simple style later in his career. Schutz’s motet Ich bin eine rufende Stimme incorporates more of Schutz’s late style of writing but there are still glimmers of the influence of his old teachers throughout the piece as well as Baroque period musical style traits.
Heinrich Schutz’s motet Ich bin eine rufende Stimme is written for an SSATTB choir and basso continuo. Basso continuo is a trademark of the Baroque period and is not lost on the works of Schutz. In this piece there are multiple areas where it feels like there is going to be a cadence (around 0:35 and 0:50 in the video for example) but it does not. It keeps going and doesn’t resolve. This is another characteristic of Schutz and of the Baroque period. The piece has a minor feel, which makes sense when looking at the translation. The piece is about John the Baptist talking about the coming of Christ and how he is unworthy. The piece finally resolves for the first time at around 1:08 and the listener finally feels like the piece is actually going somewhere. Schutz’s style is clearly seen in this piece with the interplay of voices, imitation (especially seen at the very beginning of the piece), and the strong tonal pull to cadences (when they happen).
When comparing Schutz’s later work to one of his earlier pieces one can see and hear many similarities and differences. Cantiones Sacrae was written in 1625. When first listening to it, the piece seems to not have a tonal center and sounds very weird while as Schutz’s later work Ich bin eine rufende Stimme does seem to have a tonal center (minor key). There is voice imitation in both works. Cantiones Sacrae shows Schutz’s writing in a modal style and has non functioning harmonies throughout which is what he is known for.
I came across Ich bin eine rufende Stimme when I was looking for pieces of the mid-Baroque period. After studying and listening to this work, I don’t know if I really like Schutz’s compositions compared to the other composers of the time period because he wrote very modal music. It was sometimes hard to listen to because there sometimes did not seem like there was a sense of direction and the harmonies were very different and didn’t really go together. I do think he was a great composer of his time; it is just not my cup of tea!
Burkholder, J. Peter, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca. A History of Western Music. Eighth Edition. (W.W. Norton and Company, New York, New York). 2010.
“Heinrich Schutz – Ich bin eine rufende Stimme.” Youtube video. Posted by “stigekalder.” Uploaded Nov. 21, 2011. Accessed March 1, 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r9LN7kcoA4
Heinrich Schutz: “Ich bin eine rufende Stimme” SWV 383 – Geistliche Chormusik. “Motet Translations.” Accessed March 1, 2014. http://emmanuelmusic.org/notes_translations/translations_motets/t_swv383_schutz.htm
Oron, Aryeh. Heinrich Schutz (Composer). “Bach Cantatas Website.” Published January 2006. Accessed March 1, 2014. http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Schutz-Heinrich.htm