Fidicinium Sacro-Profanum, Sonatae tam aris quam aulis servientes, Sonata per chiesa e per camera, Sacro profanus Concentus musicus: these are the titles of collections or instrumental pieces by the two greatest Austrian composers of the late seventeenth century, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer and Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber.
Their learned and mysterious names allude to the fact that the music is intended to serve purposes both ‘profane’ and sacred, even though it is purely instrumental. How should we interpret this apparent contradiction today? Is the declared juxtaposition of styles confirmed in the scores themselves? Are we dealing here with a mere artifice, calculated to stimulate the curiosity of the amateur, or with the revelation of a musical language undergoing profound transformation? The multiplication of collections on this theme made it a somewhat commonplace one.
With his Fidicinium, Biber exploits the subject in a wholly innovative fashion, thanks to multiple musical and symbolic references, thereby asserting his status as one of the major figures of his era.