Johann Schop

Johann Schop


• 1590 1667


Composer Johann Schop was the first German violinist to gain prominence in the early Baroque era, a period heavily dominated by Italian musicians. Schop was born in Lower Saxony likely around 1590-1595, as we first hear of him in 1614 through a document that records his temporary appointment to an orchestra in Wolfenbüttel. Schop didn't stay long, as in 1615 he moved to Copenhagen to join the orchestra belonging to King Christian IV, and in Copenhagen Schop struck up a friendship with another transplant, English viol player and composer William Brade. Both fled Copenhagen in 1619 just ahead of a breakout of the Black Death, and we do not hear of Schop again until 1621, when he arrives in Hamburg. Although granted some freedom to travel, Schop accepted the posts of court musician and Kapellmeister in Hamburg and continued to work there until his death nearly 50 years later.

Schop became one of the most famous and revered musicians of his day and in 1634 he traveled back to Copenhagen, along with Heinrich Albert and Heinrich Schütz, to attend and contribute music to the marriage ceremony of Crown Prince Christian of Denmark. As long as he reigned, King Christian IV hoped to regain Schop's permanent services in the Danish court, but Schop resisted the temptation and remained in Germany. Schop was a prolific composer whose surviving output is divisible into three distinct categories, that of instrumental dance music, solo songs, and sacred concertos. He published two books of dance pieces in the 1630s that were very popular; still other dances, including a suite, exist in manuscript. Schop's songs, important progenitors of the German secular lied, appear scattered throughout a number of printed collections and in manuscript copies as well. His Variations on "Nasce la pena mia" is the earliest known German violin piece written in variation form, and his contact with Brade was significant, as Schop made extensive use of English dance forms such as the galliard, pavan, and lacrimae. Schop had at least two sons, Johann Schop II and Albert Schop, who likewise became well-known musicians.