Johann Rosenmüller Sonata Decima à 5 in F Major

Johann Rosenmüller Sonata Decima à 5 in F Major

Sonata Decima à 5

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Johann Rosenmüller (ca1619-1684) taught theology at the University of Leipzig and studied music there with Tobias Michael, the cantor of Thomasschule. After being arrested for suspicion of misconduct with several schoolboys, he disappeared from Germany. Resurfacing at San Marco in Venice, Italy, he was composer at the Ospedale della Pietà from 1678 to 1682. This Italian influence is seen in most clearly in his liturgical works. Incorporating the solo cantata and Italian operatic and instrumental styles into his works prepared the path for the German sacred cantata. While in Italy, Johann Phillip Krieger studied composition with him in 1673-1674, and then returned to Germany with the Italian influence learned from his teacher. A decade later, Rosenmüller returned to Wolfenbüttel, where he died several years later. The sonatas discussed here are one of two sets he composed, the first of which was Sonate da camera in 1667.


Sonata Decima à 5 is the tenth sonata of Sonate à 2. 3. 4. è 5. Stromenti da Arco & Altri, a group of twelve sonatas. This set of 1682 sonatas was dedicated to Anton Ulrich, cousin to the Duke Johann Friedrich or the house of Brunswick-Lüneburg. It is thought Rosenmüller travelled back to Germany with Ulrich in 1682. Until approximately 1700, Italian sonatas were thought to be suitable for church and only the exception was marked de camera, therefore this set of sonatas is believed to have been intended for church. Following the Italian form of the developing sonata from instrumental canzona to sonata, there is a clear division between the alternating allegro and adagio sections. The first adagio section in measure 32 moves into 3/2 time in measure 38, then in measure 43, the allegro movement begins in 6/4 time. The entire Sonata Decima à 5 is quite imitative, as seen in the early Italian instrumental canzonas. This demonstrates the Italian influence on Rosenmüller’s works. The northern German influence can be seen in his use of more than three instruments in these sonatas, with this particular piece using five: first and second violino, first and second violetta, viola (de gamba), and basso continuo.

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Here is a pdf link to the rest of the score:


I am comparing Sonata Seconda à 2  of the same set of works with Sonata Decima à 5. Sonata Seconda à 2 consists of much shorter sections that Sonata Decima à 5. Both have definite divisions between each section. In  Sonata Seconda à 2, however, several beginning sections only have two or three measures before they change tempo (measures 6, 10, 13). There are eight sections, but the last three are much longer, measures 20 thru 160.  Although both pieces have imitation, it is much more evident in Sonata Decima à 5. Although these were both written in 1682, Sonata Seconda à 2 seems to reflect an earlier type of sonata than Sonata Decima à 5.

Here is a pdf link to the rest ofSonata Seconda à 2 :

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It was much harder to find a mid-Baroque composer than other Baroque years. As I looked, the concept of the changes in the sonata that developed over the era intrigued me. I enjoy small chamber ensembles, and this particular one had an appealing sound with the imitation in each part.

Works CitedEdit

Crocker, Richard. A History of Musical Style, 183-219. New York: Dover Publications, 1986.

IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library. Sonata Decima à 5.,3,4_e_5_stromenti_da_arco_et_altri_%28Rosenm%C3%BCller,_Johann%29.

IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library. Sonata Seconda à 2.,3,4_e_5_stromenti_da_arco_et_altri_%28Rosenm%C3%BCller,_Johann%29.

Mangsen, Sandra, et al. "Sonata." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed March 1, 2014,

Randal, Don Michael, ed. “Sonata.” The Harvard Dictionary of Music, 4th ed. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2003.

Snyder, Kerala J. "Rosenmüller, Johann." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed March 1, 2014,

Stauffer, George B. ed. “The World of Baroque Music: New Perspectives. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

Wold, Milo, Gary Martin, James Miller, and Edmund Cykler, eds. An Outline History of Western Music 9th ed. Boston, Massachusetts: McGraw-Hill, 1998.