Johann Ulrich Steigleder (1593–1635) — Ricercar No. 12 in C for organ
Johann Ulrich Steigleder (1593–1635) was a German baroque composer and organist and was taught primarily by his father Adam, who had been a student of Simon Lohet. Steigleder was organist first in Lindau and then from 1617 in Stuttgart where he became organist of the Württemberg court in 1627. He died of plague during the Thirty Years’ War. Steigleder published two collections of organ pieces. “Ricercar tabulatura” (1624) was the first German music edition published using engraved copper plates. Steigleder even prepared the plates (very crudely) himself. Along with Samuel Scheidt’s “Tabulatura nova,” it was one of the first significant German printed collections to employ five-line staff notation. The book contains 12 ricercars: two each in the keys of D, E, F, G, A, and C. In contrast with other early keyboards ricercars, Steigleder’s are decidedly instrumental (and not vocal) in character, with influence from the English virginalists (with whom he worked in the Stuttgart court). They employ a wide variety of inventive musical devices and are all quite different from each other. Steigleder was one of the first composers to make the transition from tones (primi toni, etc.) to keys. His second organ collection, “Tabulaturbuch Dass Vatter Unser” (1627) is an even more remarkable achievement, consisting of 40 variations on the chorale “Vater unser in Himmelreich.” The variety of compositional techniques employed across the variations (which range in duration from the 12 minute opening fantasia to short treatments that break up the tune into sections) encompass nearly every musical technique that was available to a keyboard composer of Steigleder’s time, and display tremendous invention.