Dieterich Buxtehude ; (c. 1637/39 – 9 May 1707) was a Danish-German organist and composer of the Baroque period. 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. Today, Buxtehude is considered one of the most important composers in Germany of the mid-Baroque.
Early years in Denmark
He is thought to have been born with the name Diderich Buxtehude. Scholars dispute both the year and country of his birth, although most now accept that he was born in 1637 in Helsingborg, Skåne, at the time part of Denmark (but now part of Sweden). His obituary stated that "he recognized Denmark as his native country, whence he came to our region; he lived about 70 years". Others, however, claim that he was born at Oldesloe in the Duchy of Holstein, which at that time was a part of the Danish Monarchy (but is now in Germany). Later in his life he Germanized his name and began signing documents Dieterich Buxtehude. Buxtehude was exposed to the organ at a young age, as his father, Johannes Buxtehude, was the organist at St. Olai church in Helsingør. Dieterich was employed as an organist, first in Helsingborg (1657–1658), and then at Helsingør (1660–1668). St. Mary’s in Helsingør is the only church where Buxtehude was employed that still has the organ in its original location.
and funerals. There he succeeded Franz Tunder and followed in many of the footsteps of his predecessor. He married Tunder's daughter Anna Margarethe in 1668 – 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. After his retirement as organist at St Olaf's Church, his father joined the family in Lübeck in 1673. Johannes died a year later, and Dieterich composed his funeral music. Dieterich's brother Peter, a barber, joined them in 1677.
His post in the free Imperial city of Lübeck afforded him considerable latitude in his musical career, and his autonomy was a model for the careers of later Baroque masters such as George Frideric Handel, Johann Mattheson, Georg Philipp Telemann and Johann Sebastian Bach. In 1673 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 1810. In 1703, Handel and Mattheson both traveled to meet Buxtehude, who was old and ready to retire, by the time he met them. He offered his position in Lübeck to Handel and Mattheson but stipulated that the organist who ascended to it must marry his eldest daughter, Anna Margareta. Both Handel and Mattheson turned the offer down and left the day after their arrival. In 1705, J.S. Bach, then a young man of twenty, walked from Arnstadt to Lübeck, a distance of more than 400 kilometres (250 mi), and stayed nearly three months to hear the Abendmusik, meet the pre-eminent Lübeck organist, hear him play, and, as Bach explained, "to comprehend one thing and another about his art". In addition to his musical duties, Buxtehude, like his predecessor Tunder, served as the bookkeeper of the church funds.
Influence and legacy
Although more than 100 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, which is similar to that of Bach's later church music.
List of compositions by Dieterich Buxtehude - [Click - Here]
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 librettos for his oratorios, for example, survive; but none of the scores do, which is particularly unfortunate, because his German oratorios seem to be the model for later works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann. Further evidence of lost works by Buxtehude and his contemporaries can be found in the recently discovered catalogue of a 1695 music-auction in Lübeck.
Gustaf Düben's collection and the so-called Lübeck tablature A373 are the two most important sources for Buxtehude's vocal music. 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 137. Although Buxtehude himself most probably wrote in organ tablature, the majority of the copies are in standard staff notation.