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Heinrich Schütz

Heinrich Kostritz Schütz (October 9, 1585 - November 6, 1672) was a German composer and organist, generally regarded as the first German baroque composer. He wrote what is thought to be the first German opera, Dafne (although it has since been lost).

Schütz was born in Köstritz[?] and was a choir-boy as a child. He probably went on to study law at Marburg, before going to Venice to study music with Giovanni Gabrieli. He subsequently had a short stint as organist at Kassel before moving to Dresden in 1615 to work as court composer to the Elector of Saxony.

He held his Dresden post until the end of his life (sowing the seeds of what is now the Dresden Staatskapelle while there), but left Dresden itself on several occasions; in 1628 he went to Venice again, this time to study Claudio Monteverdi's music, and in 1633, after the Thirty Years' War had disrupted life at the court, he took a post at Copenhagen. He returned full time to Dresden in 1641, and did not leave again until his death there from a stroke.

Schütz' compositions show the influence of his teacher, Gabrieli, and of Monteverdi, whom he had studied. His best known works are probably in the field of sacred choral music, which he wrote quite a lot of, especially his Symphoniae sacrae, the Psalms of David and his three Passion settings.

Schütz was of great importance in bringing new musical ideas to Germany from Italy, and as such had a large influence on the German music which was to follow.

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