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Buxtehude, Dietrich

organist music werke aug

Buxtehude, Dietrich, significant Danish-born German organist and composer; b. probably in Helsing-borg, c. 1637; d. Liibeck, May 9, 1707. His father, Johannes Buxtehude (1601–74), an organist of German extraction, was active in Holstein, which was under Danish rule. After receiving a thorough education, in all probability from his father, Dietrich became organist at St. Mary’s in Helsingborg (1657 or 1658), and then at St. Mary’s in Helsingør (1660). On April 11, 1668, he was appointed organist and Werkmeister in succession to the recently deceased Franz Tunder at St. Mary’s in Liibeck, subject to the condition that he would abide by the custom of marrying the predecessor’s unmarried daughter; he did so, marrying Anna Margaretha on Aug. 3, 1668. He continued the Abendmusiken, concerts consisting of organ music and concerted pieces for chorus and orch., held annually in Lübeck in late afternoon on 5 of the 6 Sundays immediately preceding Christmas. Mattheson and Handel visited Buxtehude on Aug. 17, 1703, with the ostensible purpose of being considered as his successor; but it is a valid surmise that the notorious marriage clause, which would have com pelled the chosen one to marry Buxtehude’s daughter, allegedly lacking in feminine charm, deterred them from further negotiations. In 1705 J.S. Bach made a pilgrimage allegedly to hear the Abendmusik, to study with Buxtehude, and possibly to investigate the impending opening; though details of Bach’s trip are subject to speculation, there can be no doubt that Buxtehude exercised a profound influence on Bach, as both organist and composer. Buxtehude’s daughter, 1 of 7, eventually married her father’s successor, Johann Christian Schieferdecker, on Aug. 29, 1707. Buxtehude exerted a major influence on the organists who followed him by virtue of the significant role he played in the transitional period of music history from Froberger to the contrapuntal mastery of Bach. Though little of his music exists in MS, many composers were known to have made copies of his works for their own study. His major student was Nicolaus Bruhns. Buxtehude appears prominently in the painting Domestic Music Scene (1674) by Johannes Voorhout. For a detailed compilation of Buxtehude’s works, see G. Karstàdt, éd., Thematisch-systematisches verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke von D. B.: B.-Werke-Verzeichnis (Wiesbaden, 1974). Editions of his works include: P. Spitta, éd., D. B.: Werke für Orgel (1875-76; rev. and aug., 1903-04, by M. Seiffert; suppl., 1939, by M. Seiffert); M. Seiffert, éd., D. B.: Abendmusiken und Kirchenkantate, in Denkmàler Deutscher Tonkunst, XIV (1903; 2 nd éd., rev., 1957, by H.J. Moser); W. Gurlitt, éd., D. B.: Werke (Klecken and Hamburg, 1925-28); E. Bandert, éd., D. B.: Klavervaerker (Copenhagen, 1942); J. Hedar, éd., D. B.: Orgelwerke (Copenhagen, 1952); K. Beckmann, éd., D. B.: Samtliche Orgelwerke (Wiesbaden, 1972); K. Snyder, general éd., D. B.: The Collected Works (18 vols., N.Y., 1987 et seq.; includes rev. ed. of Gurlitt’s vols.).

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