Mystery (Rosary) Sonatas (Biber, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von)
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Scores and Parts
Erwin Luntz (1877-1949)
The realisation of Sonata XI within the volume (score pp.49–57 and non-scordatura violin part pp. 19–20) is largely incorrect; a corrected realisation was later issued, which appears on pages 149 to 154 of the PDF; Biber’s original part appears on pages 139 and 140 of the PDF file (or refer to pages 47–53 of the original manuscript, above).
Erwin Luntz (1877-1949)
Pages 1–9 comprise the original 1905 print without the faulty realisations of the violin part; pages 10–15 are the revised accompaniment, with a more correct realisation of the scordatura. The scordatura violin part as Biber wrote it is on pages 16 and 17.
Arrangements and Transcriptions
Sonata XVI in G minor
For Cello solo (Hamrefors)
- (with Martin Pearlman, harpsichord. Recorded 2007 for WGBH Boston and here distributed as part of their Classical Performance Podcast.)
|Work Title||Mystery (Rosary) Sonatas [and Passacaglia]|
|Alternative Title||Rosenkranz-Sonaten; Copper-Engraving Sonatas|
|Composer||Biber, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von|
|Opus/Catalogue Number||C 90–105|
|Year/Date of Composition||?1674|
|Composer Time Period||Baroque|
|Instrumentation||Violin and basso continuo|
The Mystery (or Rosary) Sonatas constitute one of the virtuoso high points of the Baroque violin literature, as in addition to the daring technical and contrapuntal demands of Biber’s writing, each sonata employs a different tuning of the violin’s strings, known as scordatura (the first sonata and the final passacaglia alone employ the standard violin tuning). In addition the eleventh sonata requires the violinist to cross over the middle strings at the bridge and nut to allow octave tunings between the adjacent pairs of outer strings. Each of the violin sonatas is accompanied by a figured continuo bass, whereas the passacaglia is for violin alone. The collection of sonatas survives in a manuscript copy with engravings accompanying each of the sections and portraying the depicted scene.
A lengthy but illuminating discussion of the background for this style of composition is found at Dr James Clements’ website, entitled Penetrating the Mysteries.
15 Sonatas and Passacaglia
The Joyful Mysteries
- Sonata 1 in D minor, The Annunciation, senza scordatura
- Præludium. Aria allegro – Variation – Adagio. Finale
- Sonata 2 in A major, Mary's Visit to Elizabeth, scordatura a e' a' e''
- Sonata. Presto. Allemande. Presto
- Sonata 3 in B minor, The Nativity, scordatura b f♯' b' d''
- Sonata – Presto. Courante – Double. Adagio
- Sonata 4 in D minor, The Presentation, scordatura a d' a' d''
- Ciacona – Adagio – Presto – Adagio
- Sonata 5 in A major, Child Jesus in the Temple, scordatura a e' a' c♯''
- Præludium – Presto. Allemande. Gigue. Sarabande – Double.
The Sorrowful Mysteries
- Sonata 6 in C minor, The Agony in the Garden, scordatura a♭ e♭' g' d''
- Lamento – Adagio – Presto. [Aria] – Adagio – Adagio
- Sonata 7 in F major, The Scourging of Jesus, scordatura c' f' a' c''
- Allemande – Variation. Sarabande – Variation.
- Sonata 8 in B♭ major, The Crown of Thorns, scordatura d' f' b♭' d''
- Sonata, Adagio – Presto – Adagio. Gigue – Double, Presto – Double II
- Sonata 9 in A minor, Carrying the Cross, scordatura c' e' a' e''
- Sonata. Courante – Double. Finale
- Sonata 10 in G minor, The Crucifixion, scordatura g d' a' d''
- Præludium. Aria – Variatio – Adagio
The Glorious Mysteries
- Sonata 11 in G major, The Resurrection, scordatura g d' × g' d'' (= g g' d' d'')
- Sonata – Surrexit Christus hodie. Adagio
- Sonata 12 in C major, The Ascension, scordatura c' e' g' c''
- Intrada. Aria Tubicinum. Allemande. Courante – Double
- Sonata 13 in D minor, The Holy Ghost, scordatura a e' c♯'' e''
- Sonata. Gavotte. Gigue. Sarabande
- Sonata 14 in D major, The Assumption of Mary, scordatura a e' a' d''
- [Prelude] – Grave – Adagio. Aria – Aria – Gigue
- Sonata 15 in C major, Crowning of the Virgin Mary, scordatura g c' g' d''
- Sonata. Aria – Canzone. Sarabande
The Guardian Angel
- Passacaglia in G minor for solo violin, senza scordatura
- Passagalia – Adagio – Allegro – Adagio