His prolific works show a predilection for canonic use and harmonic diapason that pre-date the later Baroque works of Pachelbel and JS Bach. He was known as a violin virtuoso and is best known for his violin works.
The music of Biber has enjoyed a renaissance, in part, because of The Rosary Sonatas. This remarkable set of 16 sonatas is also known as The Mystery Sonatas (for key events in the lives of the Virgin Mary and Christ) and The Copper-Engraving Sonatas (for the engravings at the head of the sonatas). Each sonata employs a different tuning of the violin. This use of scordatura transforms the violin from the pleasures of the Five Joyful Mysteries (the Annunciation, etc.) to the trauma of the Five Sorrowful Mysteries (the Crucifixion, etc.) to ethereal nature of the Six Glorious Mysteries, starting with the Resurrection Sonata, where the two middle strings are symbolically crossed over to Sonata No 16, a passacaglia for solo violin with standard tuning, completing the cycle of scordaturas. It might be worth to mention that in Sonata No 15 nearly literally the theme of Paganini's Capriccio No 24 appears. We can assume, that as later Liszt and Rachmaninov were inspired by Paganini's Caprice No 24, Paganini was inspired by Biber.
Biber wrote much choral and chamber music, concertos, operas and a number of more well-known pieces such as the Nightwatchman Serenade and Harmonia Artificiosa. A work which is currently attributed to him (formerly it was attributed to Orazio Benevoli) is the Missa Salisburgensis, an astonishing polyphonic setting of the mass for 53 independent voices.
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
|Mystery 'Rosary' Sonatas (Biber)|
|Sonatae tam aris, quam aulis servientes (Biber)|