Meet Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber

Forget Justin Bieber. The Canadian pop star has nothing on the Bohemian-Austrian baroque composer and violinist, Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (12 August 1644 [baptized] – 3 May 1704). Believed to have been Jesuit educated in his earlier years at the Society’s Gymnasium at Opava in Bohemia, von Biber was clearly Catholic in the range of his compositional subject-matter.

Besides his beautiful Masses (some of which can be found on YouTube, like the Missa Bruxellensis, the Missa Christi Resurgentis, and the Missa Salisburgensis), von Biber is known for an amazing set of fifteen short sonatas for violin and continuo known as the Mystery Sonatas. Each of the fifteen is a musical meditation on a mystery of the rosary. According to WikiPedia, “In the extant copy of the collection, each piece is accompanied by a small engraving depicting the mystery it portrays, while the image (an ink drawing) preceding the passacaglia depicts a guardian angel with a child.”

A peculiarity of the pieces is their use of scordatura, alternate tunings, for the violin in all but the first and last sonatas.

There is too much ugly in the world. Listen to this music. It is beautiful, and Catholic.