was a German composer and organist, generally regarded as the most important German composer before Johann Sebastian Bach and often considered to be one of the most important composers of the 17th century along with Claudio Monteverdi. He wrote what is thought to be the first German opera, Dafne, performed at Torgau in 1627; however, the music has since been lost. He is commemorated as a musician in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church on July 28 with Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel. He was buried in the Dresden Frauenkirche but his tomb has since been destroyed.
He was the eldest son of Christoph Schütz and Euphrosyne Bieger. In 1590 the family moved to Weißenfels, where his father, Christoph managed the inn "Zum Ring". When staying at the inn, Schütz's musical talents were discovered by Moritz von Hessen-Kassel in 1599. After being a choir-boy he went on to study law and etymology at Marburg before going to Venice from 1609–1612 to study music with Giovanni Gabrieli. He subsequently had a short stint as organist at Kassel before moving to Dresden in 1615 to work as court composer to the Elector of Saxony. In 1619 Schütz married Magdalena Wildeck who had been born in 1601. She produced two daughters before her death in 1625, Anna Justina born in 1621 and Euphrosyne born in 1623.
In Dresden he sowed the seeds of what is now the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, but left there on several occasions; in 1628 he went to Venice again, most likely meeting Claudio Monteverdi there—he may have studied with him—and in 1633, after the Thirty Years' War had disrupted life at the court, he took a post at Copenhagen. He returned to Dresden in 1641. In 1655, the year that his daughter Euphrosyne died, he accepted an ex officio post of Kapellmeister at Wolfenbüttel. He died from a stroke in 1672 at the age of 87.
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