Heinrich Albert, also Heinrich Alberti, (* 28. June 1604 in Lobenstein; † 6. October 1651 in Königsberg) was a composer and song writer of the baroque period. He was an important representative of the Königsberger poet circle and songwriter following Heinrich Schütz.
Heinrich Albert was born in Lobenstein in the Principality of Reuss (Thuringia). From 1619 to 1621 he attended the Latin school in Gera and in 1622 he studied music under his cousin Heinrich Schütz in Dresden who introduced him to the basis of composition techniques. From 1623 Albert was forced to study law following the request of his parents. It is to be assumed that he continued to study music there with the Thomas cantor Joh. Hermann Schein who was a friend of Schütz.
In 1626 he avoided the oncoming danger of the Thirty Years War and went to Königsberg with his friend Simon Dach. In 1627, on the way from Königsberg to Warschau as part of a Dutch peace delegation, he was taken prisoner by the Swedish and only managed to return to Königsberg one year later. Afterwards he initially studied the science of fortification but eventually turned to the study of music fully. From 1st April 1631 until his untimely death at only 47 years of age Heinrich Albert was permanently employed as organist at the cathedral. The university arranged the funeral and the in Latin held memorial address became the most important source for his biography.
Albert was student of the cathedral and court conductor Johann Stobäus (†1646). Stobäus represented the Königsberger audio school, which can be estimated roughly from Johannes Eccard to Johann Sebastiani (around 1590 – 1690). Here the polyphonic choral movement in five parts dominated, which was also maintained by Albert. However, Heinrich Albert became popular with his monophonic basso continuo songs out of which many were created through a reduction of own polyphonic movements.
Albert was a member of the Königsberger poet circle to which among others Simon Dach, Robert Roberthin, Georg Mylius and temporarily Martin Opitz belonged. The group met at the “Kürbshütte” (pumpkin hut), a cabin in Heinrich Albert’s garden. The garden was the “Schwedenschanze” (Swedes redoubt) at the mouth of the Lindengraben into the Pregel river.
The “Kneiphöfsche Rat” (Kneiphöfer Council) bestowed it upon its organist in 1630. At the hut Albert grew pumpkins. His friends carved their shepherd’s names into the paring. Here, in 1638, Martin Opitz visited his friend Simon Dach. Both the garden and the hut grew victim to the urban planning at the time as it scheduled construction of the “Weidendamm” (willow bank).
At the grove in Bad Lobenstein there is a Heinrich Albert memorial stone.
Heinrich Albert set poems of his friends and his own to music. From 1638 he published his work mostly in eight booklets in total “arias and melodeys” as scores. Albert attached the booklets with self-written preambles in which he gave extensive and detailed playing instructions. Alongside many instance prints were published, which so far are bibliographically not fully determined.
The “Ännchen von Tharau” (“Anna of Tharau”) may well be Albert’s most popular song. The lyrics were for a long time credited to Simon Dach. However, Joseph Müller-Blattau made it probably, that Albert himself may be the author of the poem in flawed Sambian Low German. Today the song is mostly sung after the High German lyrics version of Herder and the newer melody of Friedrich Schiller.