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His organ works represent a central part of the standard organ repertoire and are frequently performed at recitals and in church services. He composed in a wide variety of vocal and instrumental idioms, and his style strongly influenced many composers, including Johann Sebastian Bach , his student. Today, Buxtehude is considered one of the most important composers in Germany of the mid-Baroque. He is thought to have been born with the name Diderich Buxtehude.
His father originated from Oldesloe in the Duchy of Holstein , which at that time was a part of the Danish realms in Northern Germany. His father — Johannes Buxtehude — was the organist at St. There he succeeded Franz Tunder and followed in many of the footsteps of his predecessor. He married Tunder's daughter Anna Margarethe in — it was not uncommon practice that a man marry the daughter of his predecessor in his occupation.
Buxtehude and Anna Margarethe had seven daughters who were baptized at the Marienkirche; however, his first daughter died as an infant. Johannes died a year later, and Dieterich composed his funeral music.
Dieterich's brother Peter, a barber, joined them in In he reorganized a series of evening musical performances, initiated by Tunder, known as Abendmusik , which attracted musicians from diverse places and remained a feature of the church until In , Handel and Mattheson both traveled to meet Buxtehude, who was by then elderly and ready to retire. Both Handel and Mattheson turned the offer down and left the day after their arrival.
Although more than vocal compositions by Buxtehude survive, very few of them were included in the important German manuscript collections of the period, and until the early twentieth century, Buxtehude was regarded primarily as a keyboard composer. His surviving church music is praised for its high musical qualities rather than its progressive elements.
The bulk of Buxtehude's oeuvre consists of vocal music, which covers a wide variety of styles,  and organ works, which concentrate mostly on chorale settings and large-scale sectional forms. Chamber music constitutes a minor part of the surviving output, although the only chamber works Buxtehude published during his lifetime were fourteen chamber sonatas.
Unfortunately, many of Buxtehude's compositions have been lost. The former includes several autographs, both in German organ tablature and in score. Both collections were probably created during Buxtehude's lifetime and with his permission. Copies made by various composers are the only extant sources for the organ works: chorale settings are mostly transmitted in copies by Johann Gottfried Walther , while Gottfried Lindemann's and others' copies concentrate on free works.
Johann Christoph Bach 's manuscript is particularly important, as it includes the three known ostinato works and the famous Prelude and Chaconne in C major, BuxWV Although Buxtehude himself most probably wrote in organ tablature, the majority of the copies are in standard staff notation.
The nineteen organ praeludia or preludes form the core of Buxtehude's work and are ultimately considered his most important contributions to the music literature of the seventeenth century. They are sectional compositions that alternate between free improvisation and strict counterpoint. They are usually either fugues or pieces written in fugal manner; all make heavy use of pedal and are idiomatic to the organ.
These preludes, together with pieces by Nicolaus Bruhns , represent the highest point in the evolution of the north German organ prelude , and the so-called stylus phantasticus. They were undoubtedly among the influences of J. Bach, whose organ preludes, toccatas and fugues frequently employ similar techniques. The preludes are quite varied in style and structure, and are therefore hard to categorize, as no two praeludia are alike.
Buxtehude's praeludia are not circular, nor is there a recapitulation. A fugal theme, when it recurs, does so in a new, changed way. The sections may be explicitly separated in the score or flow one into another, with one ending and the other beginning in the same bar. The texture is almost always at least three-voice, with many instances of four-voice polyphony and occasional sections in five voices BuxWV being one of the notable examples, with five-voice structure in which two of the voices are taken by the pedal.
The introductory sections are always improvisatory. The preludes begin almost invariably with a single motif in one of the voices which is then treated imitatively for a bar or two. After this the introduction will most commonly elaborate on this motif or a part of it, or on a short melodic germ which is passed from voice to voice in three- or four-voice polyphonic writing, as seen in Example Occasionally the introduction will engage in parallel 3rds, 6ths, etc.
For example, BuxWV begins with a single voice, proceeds to parallel counterpoint for nine bars and then segues into the kind of texture described above. The improvisatory interludes, free sections and postludes may all employ a vast array of techniques, from miscellaneous kinds of imitative writing the technique discussed above, or "fugues" that dissolve into homophonic writing, etc.
Tempo marks are frequently present: Adagio sections written out in chords of whole- and half-notes, Vivace and Allegro imitative sections, and others. The number of fugues in a prelude varies from one to three, not counting the pseudo-fugal free sections.
The fugues normally employ four voices with extensive use of pedal. Most subjects are of medium length see Example 2 , frequently with some degree of repercussion note repeating, particularly in BuxWV and BuxWV , wide leaps or simplistic runs of 16th notes. One of the notable exceptions is a fugue in BuxWV , which features a six-bar subject. The answers are usually tonal, on scale degrees 1 and 5, and there is little real modulation.
Stretto and parallel entries may be employed, with particular emphasis on the latter. Short and simple countersubjects appear, and may change their form slightly during the course of the fugue. In terms of structure, Buxtehude's fugues are a series of expositions, with non-thematic material appearing quite rarely, if ever. There is some variation, however, in the way they are constructed: in the first and last fugues of BuxWV the second voice does not state the subject as it enters during the initial exposition; in BuxWV the second exposition uses the subject in its inverted form, etc.
Fugue subjects of a particular prelude may be related as in Froberger 's and Frescobaldi 's ricercars and canzonas BuxWV , , etc.
The fugal procedure dissolves at the end of the fugue when it is followed by a free section, as seen in Example Buxtehude's other pieces that employ free writing or sectional structure include works titled toccata , praeambulum , etc.
A well-known piece is BuxWV , in the rare key of F-sharp minor; it is believed that this prelude was written by Buxtehude especially for himself and his organ, and that he had his own way of tuning the instrument to allow for the tonality rarely used because of meantone temperament.
There are over 40 surviving chorale settings by Buxtehude, and they constitute the most important contributions to the genre in the 17th century. Buxtehude's principal contributions to the organ chorale are his 30 short chorale preludes. The chorale preludes are usually four-part cantus firmus settings of one stanza of the chorale; the melody is presented in an elaborately ornamented version in the upper voice, the three lower parts engage in some form of counterpoint not necessarily imitative.
Most of Buxtehude's chorale settings are in this form. The ornamented cantus firmus in these pieces represents a significant difference between the north German and the south German schools ; Johann Pachelbel and his pupils would almost always leave the chorale melody unornamented.
The chorale fantasias a modern term are large-scale virtuosic sectional compositions that cover a whole strophe of the text and are somewhat similar to chorale concertos in their treatment of the text: each verse is developed separately, allowing for technically and emotionally contrasting sections within one composition.
Buxtehude was careful with correct word setting, paying particular attention to emphasis and interpretation. Buxtehude's chorale variations are usually in two or three voices. They consist of around 3—4 variations of which only one may use the pedal. There are only a few chorale variations, and there are no distinctive qualities that characterize them. The pieces that do not fall into any of the three types are Auf meinen lieben Gott BuxWV , which is, quite unusually for the time, a dance suite based on the chorale, and the ones based on the chant Magnificats BuxWV —5 and Te Deum laudamus , BuxWV , which are structurally similar to chorale fantasias.
The three ostinato bass works Buxtehude composed—two chaconnes BuxWV — and a passacaglia BuxWV —not only represent, along with Pachelbel's six organ chaconnes, a shift from the traditional chaconne style, but are also the first truly developed north German contributions to the development of the genre. The pieces feature numerous connected sections, with many suspensions, changing meters, and even real modulation in which the ostinato pattern is transposed into another key.
Some of the praeludia also make use of ostinato models. The praeludium in C major, BuxWV , begins with a lengthy pedal solo and concludes not with a postlude of arpeggios and scale runs, but with a comparatively short chaconne built over a three-bar ostinato pattern in the pedal:. The praeludium in G minor, BuxWV , in which the ostinato pattern is derived from the subject of one of the fugal sections, also ends in a chaconne.
In addition, another praeludium in G minor, BuxWV , employs a repeating bass pattern in the beginning. The rest of Buxtehude's keyboard music does not employ pedals. Of the organ works, a few keyboard canzonas are the only strictly contrapuntal pieces in Buxtehude's oeuvre and were probably composed with teaching purposes in mind. BuxWV is more of a canzona two sections, both fugal and on the same subject , while BuxWV is more like a typical Buxtehude prelude, only beginning with a fugue rather than an improvisatory section, and for manuals only.
There are also 19 harpsichord suites and several variation sets. The suites follow the standard model Allemande — Sarabande — Courante — Gigue , sometimes excluding a movement and sometimes adding a second sarabande or a couple of doubles.
The gigues employ basic imitative counterpoint but never go as far as the gigue fugues in the chorale fantasias or the fugal writing seen in organ preludes. It may be that the more developed harpsichord writing by Buxtehude simply did not survive: in his writings, Johann Mattheson mentioned a cycle of seven suites by Buxtehude, depicting the nature of planets, but these pieces are lost.
The several sets of arias with variations are, surprisingly, much more developed than the organ chorale variations. BuxWV La Capricciosa may have inspired Bach's Goldberg Variations BWV both have 32 variations including the two arias of the Goldberg Variations ; there are a number of similarities in the structure of individual movements; both include variations in forms of various dances; both are in G major; and Bach was familiar with Buxtehude's work and admired him, as has been related above.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Danish-German organist and composer. The only surviving portrait of Buxtehude, playing a viol , from A musical party by Johannes Voorhout Helsingborg , Scania , Denmark—Norway. Composer Organist. Main article: List of compositions by Dieterich Buxtehude. Was frag ich nach der Welt BuxWV Variations on an Aria by Lully Rofilis.
Played with organ MIDI file. Toccata in F BuxWV Cantate Domino BuxWV Ciaconna in E-moll BuxWV See Snyder, Kerala. New York: Schirmer Books, University Rochester Press. Retrieved 1 February — via Google Books. Revised edition. Rochester: University of Rochester Press , , pp.
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