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Johannes Schenck (1660 - 1712)

Details of the life of Johannes Schenck are relatively sparse and the subject of varied speculation. He was born in Amsterdam, where he was baptized on 3 June 1660 into the Reformed Church. Nothing is known of his teachers, but he established himself as a distinguished virtuoso on the viola da gamba. In this he followed the tradition established by performers from England such as Daniel Norcombe, who was earlier employed at the court of Archduke Albert in Brussels, Henry Butler, musician and viol teacher to Philip IV of Spain and William Young, who served at the court of Archduke Carl Ferdinand in Innsbruck. An undated engraving in Amsterdam by Peter Schenck, once thought to have been a younger brother of the composer but apparently unrelated, shows the formally dressed and bewigged virtuoso standing to play, with his six-string bass viol resting on a footstool, in the performance style of the time. As a composer his work represents an early synthesis of French, German and Italian styles.




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