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Caspar von Stieler (Composer)

Born: March 1, 1632 - Erfurt, Thuringia, Germany
Died: June 24, 1707 - Erfurt, Thuringia, Germany

German poet and playwright, Caspar von Stieler, studied theology and medicine in Leipzig, Erfurt and Giessen between 1648 and 1650, when he went to Königsberg for further study in philosophy and theology.

Caspar von Stieler was a secretary to a Prussian cavalry regiment from 1654 to 1657 and saw action in the Polish–Sweish war. He then began a four-year period traveling, first in north Germany and then in Holland, France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland. In 1662, a year after he returned to Germany, he studied law in Jena. In 1663 he was chamber secretary in Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, and from 1666 to 1676 he was in Eisenach as secretary to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar; at this period he was enrolled as ‘Der Spate’ in the society known as the "Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft" and under that name wrote his aesthetic treatise Die Dichtkunst des Spaten (MS, 1685, DK-Kk; ed. H. Zeman, Vienna, 1975). For the last 30 years of his life he held various appointments in Jena, Weimar, Holstein, Hamburg and finally Erfurt, where he worked as writer, lawyer and private tutor.

Caspar von Stieler's importance for music lies primarily in his "Die geharnschte Venus, oder Liebes-Lieder im Kriege gedichtet" (Hamburg, 1660/R1968 with edn), which until recently was wrongly ascribed to Schwieger. This collection of 70 strophic songs contains solo lieder with basso continuo by six composers indicated by initials only which may be interpreted thus: J.K. (Jakob Kortkamp or Johann Kruss), C.B. (Christoph Bernhard), JS. (Johann Schop), M.C. (Martin Köler [Coler] and possibly a second composer too), J.M.R. (Johann Martin Rubert) and C.S. (Stieler himself). Five other pieces are taken from French ballets and four more from other French works; one lied is a madrigal. Stieler also figures in the history of German dramatic music before the opening of the Hamburg Opera; he included music during his plays and between the acts, but it has been lost.

Caspar von Stieler is the probable composer of and alternate melody used with the chorale text "Wo soll ich fliehen hin", which appeared in his "Der bussfertige Sünder, oder Geistliches Handbuchlein" (Jena, 1679) and was later revised by J.S. Bach in Cantata Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut BWV 199. It should however be noted that this is not the melody of the main chorale "Wo soll ich fliehen hin" but rather a very special melody with very limited use in J.S. Bach's repertoire.


Source: Grove Music Online (Oxford University Press, 2005, by John H. Baron)
Contributed by
Thomas Braatz (September 2005)

Chorale Melodies used in Bach’s Vocal Works





Wo soll ich fliehen hin (alternate melody)

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