Alsted [Alstedt, Alstedius], Johann Heinrich
- Ingo Schultz
- , revised by Howard Hotson
(b Ballersbach, nr Herborn, March 1588; d Gyulafehérvár [Weissenburg, Transylvania; [now Alba Julia, Romania], Nov 9, 1638). German theologian, encyclopedist and music theorist. From 1608 he taught at the Calvinist academy, Herborn, where J.A. Komenský was among his pupils. Following the disruptions of the Thirty Years War, he transferred to Gyulafehérvár in Transylvania in 1629–30. His liberal strand of Calvinist thought is reflected in his theological understanding of music: he tolerated secular music (both polyphonic and instrumental) alongside strictly regulated church music as long as it was committed to the spiritual purpose of all music. Classifying music among the mathematical disciplines, he treated it briefly in a series of mathematical textbooks and most extensively in his masterwork, the largest, most comprehensive and systematic encyclopedia assembled to that time (1630). Like that of most of the 37 disciplines handled in the work, his treatment of music is derivative, and its chief importance lies in its comprehensiveness, systematic presentation, wide distribution and easy accessibility within the encyclopedia as a whole. Like Erycius Puteanus and David Mostart, he favoured seven-syllable solmization series (...