"Scordatura" (literally "mis-tuned" or "de-tuned") refers to any tuning of a stringed instrument other than the normal or established one. This practice was not uncommonly used in the baroque era, especially in violin music, for special acoustic effects, to give the instrument more resonance in a particular key, and sometimes in order to allow the performance of chords that would otherwise be unplayable. (In classical music it is today no longer in common use, but it remains in some folk music traditions.) This practice flourished especially in the southern German and Austrian lands in the 17th century, and its foremost exponent was H. I. F. Biber (1644-1704).
Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber von Bibern began life as Heinrich Biber; he added the middle names as a tribute to two of the founders of the Jesuit order, Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier, and the "von Bibern" when in 1690 he was knighted for his artistry by Emperor Leopold I of Austria. At that time he was Kapellmeister at the court of the Archbishop of Salzburg, where he had 75 - 80 singers and instrumentalists to work with, and was writing large-scale sacred works such as the famous 53-voice Missa Salisburgensis. His rise to fame began as a violinist in Kroměříž (in Moravia, now part of the Czech Republic), and he is considered to have been the greatest violin virtuoso of the 17th century. He is perhaps best known for a collection of extraordinary violin sonatas known today as the Mystery (or Rosary) Sonatas, where the strings of the violin need to be tuned differently for each piece. In our program Scordatura Violin we will perform two of these sonatas (one of which requires the two middle strings of the violin to be crossed behind the bridge and the nut, resulting in the tuning g-g'-d'-d"), accompanied by the glorious Italian Baroque organ in the Fountain Court of the MAG.
Also on the program will be a sonata by Biber for two scordatura violins; music by Viennese composer Johann Schmelzer (ca. 1620-1680), one of the finest violinists of the generation before Biber; and a scordatura violin sonata by Johann Erasmus Kindermann (1618-1655), a well-respected organist, violinist and composer from Nürnberg.
Thursday March 15, 7:30 pm
Memorial Art Gallery Fountain Court
500 University Avenue, Rochester, NY
This performance is a part of the Third Thursday Concert Series at the Memorial Art Gallery.
The concert is free with Gallery admission, which is half-price after 5:00 pm on Thursdays.