Gunar Letzbor | Ars Antiqua Austria
Picturesque Kitzbühel has not only given the world skiers and mountain climbers – in 1665 the composer Benedikt Anton Aufschnaiter was born here, sadly now generally forgotten; he studied in Vienna and in 1705 assumed a post as Kapellmeister at the Prince-Archbishop’s court in Passau, where he died in 1742. In accordance with his post at a Catholic episcopal see, Aufschnaiter’s surviving works are primarily religious, among them a collection of eight four-part sonate di chiesa, “church sonatas” by the name of Dulcis Fidium Harmonia Op. 4. Aufschneiter dedicated each to one of the great saints and Church Fathers Gregory, Augustine, Jerome, Mark and John.
Gunar Letzbor, music director of the ensemble Ars Antiqua Austria, has made an intensive study of Aufschnaiter’s sonate di chiesa: “When I heard this composer’s music for the first time I was immediately bowled over with admiration. I was captivated mind and soul by this highly developed, autonomous musical idiom with pronounced Austrian colouring. Passion, joy, fear, despair, love, awe before God, tenderness …” For all the powers of emotional expression oriented towards transcendence, Aufschneiter also astonishes us through his skills in musical structure and his mastery in generating the most diverse sound colours. Gunar Letzbor asks himself: “Aufschnaiter a Catholic Bach? A bold question, but judge for yourself!”