‘London’ sonata No. 1 in C minor
‘London’ sonata No. 2 in B flat major
‘London’ sonata No. 3 in F minor
‘London’ sonata No. 4 in F major
‘Leuven’ sonata in D minor
‘Kilravock’ sonata in A minor
Henricus Albicastro – to use the name that Johann Heinrich Weissenburg (c.1660–1730) chose for himself in his brief and unofficial career as a musician – is not only one of the most enigmatic violinist-composers active at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but also one of the musically most capable: a man who married the polyphonic art of the south German violinist school (Schmelzer, Biber, Walther, Muffat, Westhoff) to the melodic and structural innovations of Italians such as Torelli.
Albicastro’s place of origin was described as Vienna when he matriculated as a student in the University of Leiden in 1684, but in his publications he claimed a connection with the noble Weissenburg family of Bieswangen in Bavaria and at his second marriage, in 1722, gave the castle of Neuburg an der Donau, likewise in modern Bavaria, as his birthplace. The Musicalisches Lexicon of Johann Gottfried Walther (1732) identified him as a Swiss by birth. This looks improbable, unless it refers to a remote family connection.
Even while a student, Albicastro had a special responsibility for leading the musical ensemble of the university’s collegium musicum (academia). As a composer he made his début in print in 1696, and between 1701 and 1706, in a whirlwind of activity, he published nine collections of music for strings (Opp. 1–9) with the celebrated Amsterdam publisher Estienne Roger. But by 1706 at the latest his career took a different turn: he joined the cavalry of the Dutch army as a lieutenant-captain, rising to become a full captain in 1708. It seems that his military career absorbed all Albicastro’s energies from that point onwards: there is no record of any music composed or published by him after 1706. Instances where social elevation caused gifted amateurs to give up public expression of their musical talent are not uncommon for the time, and understandable in terms of a wish to preserve status.
Michael Talbot and Andrew Woolley:
Some Information about Henricus Albicastro together with a Thematic Catalogue of Albicastro’s Violin and Continuo Sonatas
click here to download