Johannes Walter

Though this German poet and Kantor was not a magnificent composer he had a profound impact on Lutheran hymnody. Walter led a strict Lutheran life after the Reformation and also wrote "Geystliches gesangk Buchleyn" which was the first Lutheran hymn book, and a hymnbook that contained a forward written by Luther. It contained thirty eight German settings -- indicative of Luther's concept of vernacularization -- and only five Latin texts. Melancthon, whom Walter met when he met Luther, praised the hymn book describing how this music was sung in Wittenberg. These hymns prepared the table for the new direction of German church music. Characteristically Walter attempted to use a breadth of textual settings and scored many compositions with five to seven voices using the tenorlied as his guide. Studies at Leipzig brought him into the choir of the Elector of Saxony for which he sang bass. Later Walter spent time in Torgau and Dresden where he was the director of the Hofkapelle until he retired. ~ Keith Johnson

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