Dietrich Buxtehude (1637 —1707)

DIETRICH BUXTEHUDE
... young J.S. Bach, who undertook an arduous journey traversing over 250 miles by foot to witness performances of Buxtehude's organ play!

Dietrich Buxtehude was born in 1637 in Denmark (most likely in Helsingborg or Oldsloe) and became one of the most renowned organists of his time. As the organist of St. Mary's church in Lübeck, he held one of the most coveted musical positions in Northern Europe. Under his tenure, a series of public concerts – Abendmusik established by his predecessor Franz Tunder, came to prominence, turning the city of Lübeck into an artistic mecca. The high level of the musical culture of Buxtehude's Lübeck attracted many musicians to the city. Some celebrities of the time, like G.P. Telemann and G. F Handel, came to town to meet Buxtehude in person. Buxtehude's fame also captivated the mind of young J.S. Bach, who undertook an arduous journey traversing over 250 miles by foot to witness performances of Buxtehude's organ play!

Today Buxtehude is known primarily as a composer of organ music and one of the most important representatives of the powerful North German Organ School. Many might be surprised however, that he composed more vocal pieces than organ compositions (122 to 114, respectively). Buxtehude's vocal music represents a very wide range of textures and compositional styles. His virtuoso setting of Psalm 97:4-6, — the Jubilate Domino (BuxWV 64) — is one of the finest examples of the solo motet, pairing an alto with an obligato part played by the viola da gamba or cello. It begins with an instrumental sonata, almost a self-standing composition by its own merits, in which three sections of the piece, each one corresponding to one verse of the psalm, are articulated by strong cadences and changes of meter.

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