Twelve Concerti a 4, Op. 7
Henricus Albicastro – Twelve Concerti a 4, Op. 7
(Johannes Hendrik Weissenburg, or Weysenbergh)
(b. 1660? Bavaria or perhaps Vienna, or somewhere in Switzerland – d. Maastricht, 26 January 1730)
Henricus Albicastro was the name by which this talented musician from the Alpine lands preferred to be known. Very little is known about him, but he eventually settled in the Netherlands, enrolling at the University of Leiden in 1681. When he married for a second time in 1722 he gave the castle of Neuberg an den Donau as his birthplace – he had several times claimed to be of the noble Bavarian family of Weissenburg. Yet other sources give his birthplace as Vienna, and the Musicalisches Lexicon of Johann Gottfried Walther (1732) says he was Swiss. Whatever his origin, he blossomed as a composer in the Netherlands; even while he was a student he had a special responsibility for leading the musical ensemble of Leiden University’s collegium musicum (academia). His music first appeared in print in 1696, followed by a flurry of activity that saw nine collections of music for strings (Opp. 1–9) published by the Amsterdam publisher Estienne Roger.
Albicastro’s music is generally in a style that weds the polyphonic south-German violin school (Schmelzer, Biber, Walther, Muffat, Westhoff) to the melodic and structural innovations of Italians such as Torelli. These twelve Concerti a 4 (strings with continuo) represent an important early step – in fact one on the earliest – on the road towards the Central European dominance of Western music of the next 150 years. But Albicastro did not write music for the rest of his life; in 1706 during the War of the Spanish Succession he joined the Dutch cavalry as a lieutenant-captain, rising to become a full captain in 1708. His military career seems to have absorbed all his energies from that point onwards, for there is no record of his writing anything after that.
Phillip Brookes, 2018
For performance material please contact Bärenreiter, Kassel. Reprint of a copy from the Musikbibliothek der Münchner Stadtbibliothek, Munich.