Christoph Demantius

Christoph Demantius


• 1567 1643


Demantius was born in the North Bohemian town of Liberec at a time when the majority of the town?s inhabitants were German-speaking Protestants. After his formative years in Liberec, Demantius moved to Bautzen, a rather curious corner of Lusatia; and it was here that he wrote an influential dictionary of musical terms in the German language. In 1593 he received a degree from the prestigious University of Wittenburg and moved to Leipzig the following year. He stayed there no more than two years, accepting a post back in Lusatia (this time in Zittau) in 1597. He was finally able to secure a permanent position in the Black Forest town of Freiburg, a post he would keep for the rest of his life. However, the troubles of the war arrived in Freiburg in 1632, though the town was sparred the worst of the war.

Demantius? music is generally conservative when compared to his contemporaries (such as modernists like Monteverdi) composing primarily in the prima prattica, owing much to Palestrina and Lassus. Demantius has left many excellent compositions, but he perhaps best remembered for his six-voice setting of the Passion according to St. John; part of a tradition that leads to the Passion settings of the high baroque, such as those of J.S. Bach and others. His works were all intended for the Lutheran church and are primarily in German, with a smaller portion in Latin. Despite their outward formality, Demantius? works a have deeply felt sense of purpose and urgency, which may account for their continued popularity among both parishioners and professionals alike.