ACRONYM: The Battle, the Bethel, & the Ball

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ACRONYM's exploration of the wild music written by and attributed to H.I.F. von Biber includes several pieces recorded here for the first time. Works include programmatic battle music, Latin church music, and dance suites.


Programmatic battle music has long been popular, from Renaissance polyphony in which singers imitate gunfire and cries, to Romantic-era orchestral works which feature actual cannon in the percussion section. Many seventeenth-century pieces of German battle music referred to military conflicts between the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire, which by then had been taking place periodically for more than three hundred years.

Perhaps the most famous surviving work of baroque battle music is the concluding piece on our recording, composed by H. I. F. von Biber, an Austrian composer who worked in Graz and Kroměříž before settling in Salzburg. Biber’s Battalia (1673) is in eight continuous movements and dedicated to the god Bacchus. A brief untitled introduction is followed by Die liederliche gesellschaft von allerley Humor (the dissolute company of all sorts of humor), in which eight contemporaneous folk songs are heard simultaneously in different keys, and a note in the manuscript reads: “hic dissonat ubique nam ebrii sic diversis Cantilenis clamare solent” (here is dissonant everywhere as drunks shout out various songs). This cacophony is followed by two untitled presto movements, with Der Mars (the god of war) between them. A gentle aria is a respite but segues directly into Die Schlacht (the battle). Der Mars and Die Schlacht each explicitly call for extended string techniques rarely heard until the twentieth century: striking the strings with the wood of the bow, threading paper between the strings to produce a rattle, and snap pizzicato. Battalia ends with an Adagio: Lamento der verwundten Musquetir (lament of the wounded musketeer).

The full program notes are included with the album, in an 18 page full color booklet.

Engineered, produced, and mastered by Ryan Streber, Oktaven Audio
Edited by Kivie Cahn-Lipman, Loren Ludwig, and Ryan Streber
Modern editions (Jucunda, Balettae, Sonatina, Ciacona) by Charles Brewer
Translations by Martha Brundage
Notes by Kivie Cahn-Lipman
ACRONYM photo by Jeff Weeks
Cover art by Hieronymus Bosch,
from The Garden of Earthly Delights
Design by Marc Wolf


Baroque string ensemble ACRONYM is dedicated to giving modern premieres of the wild instrumental music of the seventeenth century. The group formed in 2012 to create the first recording of the "Alphabet Sonatas" of Johann Pezel. ACRONYM's following disc, sonatas by Antonio Bertali, was released in 2014 to critical acclaim; Alex Ross selected it as a CD pick, and Early Music America Magazine wrote "the idiomatic performances and spacious recording by these young musicians are absolutely first rate. This is a disc ... belonging in everyone's collection." In 2015 ACRONYM released a third album—the first recordings of Giovanni Valentini's instrumental works—which was praised in Gramophone for being "played with expertise, enthusiasm, and an almost tactile sense of timbre." In 2016 ACRONYM released its fourth album: Wunderkammer. Upcoming projects include the first recording of Samuel Capricornus's monumental "Jubilus Bernhardi" with the Bach Choir of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.

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