Dietrich Buxtehude: Notes and Commentary

“In the writing of organ music and church cantatas, none exerted a greater influence upon Johann Sebastian Bach that Dietrich Buxtehude. Bach’s biographies ell us how, in 1703, he walked a distance of some 200 miles to Luebeck just to hear Buxtehude play the organ. So impressed was he by these performances and by the quality of Buxtehude’s compositions, that he overstayed his leave of absence.”—David Ewen, The Complete Book of Classical Music

Dieterich Buxtehude was a German-Danish 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 German composers of the mid-Baroque.

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, and the only chamber works Buxtehude published during his lifetime were fourteen chamber sonatas. Although Buxtehude himself most probably wrote in organ tablature, the majority of the copies [of his work] are in standard staff notation. He lived from c. 1637—1639 to May 9, 1707. —Excerpted from Wikipedia

“Until recently, Buxtehude was known as a forerunner of Bach. In fact, he was a major composer in his own right, who exploited recent technical developments in organ building to produce a large body of organ music that was both highly virtuosic and expressive.”—The Rough Guide to Classical Music (2001, 3rd ed.) 

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