The Mystery or Rosary Sonatas by Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704) were composed for the Confraternity of the Rosary in Salzburg, probably by 1676.
Each piece represents one episode in the life of the Virgin Mary from the series of fifteen meditations that correspond to the fifteen beads of the Rosary. The pieces are organised into three groups, following the Rosary: the five Joyful Mysteries, comprising the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity of Christ, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and His Finding in the Temple; the five Sorrowful Mysteries, relating to the events leading up to and including the Crucifixion of Christ; and the five Glorious Mysteries, relating to the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, the sending of the Holy Spirit, and the Assumption and the Coronation of the Virgin.
The source for the collection is Mus. MS. 4123 preserved in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich. Each ‘sonata’ is preceded by an engraving relating to the subject of each piece, as well as the tuning of the violin strings (different for each piece). The editor has added a transliteration of the violin part in sounding pitches in a small middle stave in order to aid efficient learning of each piece for both violinist and continuo players.