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Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber

(1664 - 1704)

Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (August 12, 1644 - May 3, 1704) was a Bohemian-Austrian virtuoso, and one of the first great composers for the violin.

His music was published extensively, though it was often idiosyncratic. Today he is best known for composing violin pieces requiring the performer to extract unusual chordal effects and sonorities made possible through scordatura, or non-standard tuning of the violin. His works show a tendency towards harmonic diapason and canonic use that pre-dates the works of Johann Pachelbel and Johann Sebastian Bach.

The two most famous works that are heavily reliant on scordatura for special tone colors are the Mystery Sonatas (15 sonatas on the Rosary) and Harmonia artificiosa-ariosa, a set of seven partitas for string ensemble. Especially in his later years, Biber also composed extensive choral music, operas, and sacred music such as the Missa Salisburgensis, an intense polyphonic setting of the mass for 53 voices.

Recommended Recordings


Alia Vox 9825
"Battalia" à 10; Requiem à 15/Alia Vox 9825
Jordi Savall/Le Concert des Nations
"Battalia" à 10; Requiem, etc./L'Oiseau-Lyre 436460-2
Philip Pickett/New London Consort
"Battalia" à 10; Sonatas, etc./Teldec 450997914-2
Nikolaus Harnoncourt/Vienna Concentus Musicus
"Battalia" à 10; 4 Sonatas, etc./Archiv 429230-2
Reinhard Goebel/Musica Antiqua Köln

Core Repertoire - Start Here! "Rosary" (or "Mystery") Sonatas for Violin & Continuo

Virgin VBD562062-2
16 "Rosary" Sonatas/Virgin VBD562062-2
John Holloway (violin), Davitt Moroney (organ), Stephen Stubbs (lute)/Tragicomedia

16 "Rosary" Sonatas/Harmonia Mundi HMU907321/2
Andrew Manze (violin), Richard Egarr (harpsichord)

16 "Rosary" Sonatas/Signum SIGCD021
Walter Reiter (violin)/Cordaria

9 "Rosary" Sonatas, Vol. 1/AS&V Gaudeamus CDGAU350
Monica Huggett (violin)/Ensemble Sonnerie
Signum SIGCD021

7 "Rosary" Sonatas, Vol. 2/AS&V Gaudeamus CDGAU351
Monica Huggett (violin)/Ensemble Sonnerie

16 "Rosary" Sonatas/Winter & Winter 9100292
Marianne Rônez (violin)/Affetti Musicali

Sonatas, Trio Sonatas

Chandos Chaconne CHAN0605
7 Sonatas "Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum", Battalia à 10, etc./Chandos Chaconne CHAN0605
Catherine Weiss (violin), Katherine McGillivray (viola), Anette Isserlis (viola)/Purcell Quartet
10 Violin Sonatas, 2 Passacaglias/Harmonia Mundi HMU2907344/45
Andrew Manze (violin), Nigel North (lute), John Toll (harpsichord)/Romanesca
12 Sonatas "Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum"/Accord 465931-2
Clemencic Consort/René Clemencic