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Enrico (Heinrich) Albicastro
|Enrico (Heinrich)||Albicastro • Weissenburg von Biswang|
Sheet music for Enrico Albicastro
- Il giardino armonico sacro-profano di dodici suonate in due parti, parte I dell’opera terza continente VI suonate a tre stromenti col basso per l’organo. — Brugge, Francesco van Heurck, 1696
- XII Suonate a tre, due violini et violoncello col basso per l’organo ... opera prima. — Amsterdam, Estienne Roger, 
- XII Sonate a violino solo col basso continuo ... opera seconda. — Amsterdam, Estienne Roger,  Lost
- XII Sonate a violino e violone col basso continuo ... opera terza. — Amsterdam, Estienne Roger, 
- XII Suonate a tre, due violini e violoncello col basso per l’organo ... opera quarta. — Amsterdam, Estienne Roger,  Modern ed.: 12 sonatas for two violins, cello and keyboard: op. 4 / ed. Timothy Roberts. Vols. 1-4. London, Grancino, 1987 (Early Ensemble Series 7a–d)
- Sonate a violino solo col basso continuo ... opera quinta. — Amsterdam, Estienne Roger, 
- Sonate a violino solo e basso continuo ... opera sesta. — Amsterdam, Estienne Roger,  Lost
- XII Concerti a quatro, due violini, alto, violoncello e basso continuo ... opera settima. — Amsterdam, Estienne Roger,  Modern ed.: Zwölf Concerti a 4 : Op. 7 / hrsg. Max Zulauf. Basel, Bärenreiter, 1955 (Schweizerische Musikdenkmaler 1)
- [XII] Sonate da camera a tre, due violini e violone col basso per l’organo ... opera ottava. — Amsterdam, Estienne Roger,  Modern ed.: Zwölf Triosonaten: Op. 8 / hrsg. Max Zulauf. Basel, Bärenreiter, 1974 (Schweizerische Musikdenkmaler 10)
- XII Sonate a violino solo col violone o basso continuo ... opera IX. — Amsterdam, Estienne Roger, 
- In manuscript: Coelestes angelici chori, motet for soprano, four instruments and bc — Brussels, Royal Conservatory, ms FG3
- Trio Sonata op. 8, no. 3. Trio Sonnerie (Teleac TEL 8901-8905)
(Contribution by <firstname.lastname@example.org>.)
The name Giovanni Henrico Albicastro, one of the few pseudonyms in Dutch music history, is an Italianized form of the amateur composer’s actual German name: Johann Heinrich von Weissenburg. Albicastro came from Bieswangen in central Bavaria, not far from Pappenheim, where he is believed to have been born around 1660. The family name probably refers to the village of Weissenburg, which is near to Bieswangen. Great interest in Albicastro exists among the Swiss — a consequence of Johann Walther’s supposition in his Musicalisches Lexicon (1732) that Albicastro came from Switzerland. However, this information is uncorroborated, which makes the Swiss claim to this composer doubtful.
In 1686 Weissenburg arrived in the city of Leiden, in the Dutch Republic, where he registered at the university as a “Musicus Academiae”. The title would seem to imply that he was employed by the university as a musician, or in other words that he was responsible for the academy’s official music-making, particularly as part of public ceremonies, such as the inauguration of a new Rector Magnificus. The university archives make no mention of such activities, however. In any case, Weissenburg could not have held this position for very long, for shortly after 1690 others (François Koopman, Charles le Vray) were appointed to the post.
There is evidence that Weissenburg spent several years in the Spanish Netherlands. In 1696 a collection of twelve of his trio sonatas appeared, entitled Il giardino armonico sacro-profano, edited by Franchois Barbry and published in Bruges by Franchois van Heurck. Only the first six sonatas of this collection have survived; the complete title, incidentally, refers to the work as “opus 3”. (No information has survived on the previous op. 1 or 2.)
Barbry was an amateur musician of Bruges who in 1695 was granted a patent to publish the music of eight composers, collectively identified in the patent application as “Italians”. On closer inspection, most of the compositions appear to have been non-Italian works. Weissenburg appears first in the list, most likely because he had some sort of relationship with Barbry. Then follows Sebastian Scherer, which can be no coincidence either. Scherer (1631–1712) was a Bavarian musician who spent his entire life as a “music master” and organist in Ulm. Given that Ulm is situated near Bieswangen, that Scherer was a generation older than Weissenburg and further, that he had published a collection of Italianate trio sonatas in Ulm in 1680, it seems reasonable to conclude that Scherer was Weissenburg’s music teacher.
In 1708 Weissenburg’s career took a radical turn when he was promoted to the rank of cavalry captain in the State army. Presumably he had already acquired military experience prior to this, but no details have been found. Johan Hendrik van Weissenburg — as he is referred to in military documents — fought in the last years of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1713), and remained in the army after the Peace of Utrecht (1713). His name is mentioned for the last time in the Dutch army’s annual officers’' roll of 1730. Nothing is known of Weissenburg’s life after 1730, which leads to the assumption that he died not long afterwards.
Weissenburg was a fairly productive composer, but given the details of his life it is not surprising that most publications of his music were issued within a limited period, namely, the time immediately preceding his service in the Dutch army. The pieces issued between 1701–1706 under the pseudonym Albicastro by the Amsterdam music publisher Estienne Roger are a rather compact series of nine opuses. They comprise collections of violin sonatas (op. 2, 3, 5, 6 and 9), trio sonatas (op. 1, 4 and 8), and string concertos (op. 7) in a decidedly Italianate idiom (i.e. that of Corelli), but slightly more angular and with occasionally more unexpected turns. The succession of movements almost always follows the “church sonata” sequence, with four movements arranged in the order slow, fast, slow, fast. First movements seem at times somewhat capricious given their succession of short fragments in contrasting tempos and characters.
Albicastro composed mellifluous and fascinating music of high quality. If we consider him a Dutch composer — and his biography does give reason to do so — then he ranks among the most important of the first quarter of the eighteenth century. He forms a link between his predecessor Carolus Hacquart and the later composers Willem de Fesch, Pieter Hellendaal and Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer. In Albicastro, Corelli imitation in the Dutch Republic reached its peak.
(Contribution by <email@example.com>.)