Buxtehude, Dietrich


Very famous Danish organist, who was born at Elsinore, where his father was an organist before him, and probably Drained his son in music though this is not certain. At any rate the son, in 1668, was enough of a musician to become organist at the Marienkirche at Lübeck, one of the best positions in Germany. Here Buxtehude built up a great reputation and became the magnet in musical affairs for northern Europe, drawing musicians from all quarters to hear him. Beside his regular duties as organist, Buxtehude inaugurated the popular "Abendmusiken," which became famous all over Germany. These were concerts given every year on the five Sundays before Christmas. The programs consisted of sacred music for orchestra and chorus and organ numbers. It was to hear these concerts that Johann Sebastian Bach walked fifty miles, in 1705. As a composer, Buxtehude's very greatest strength lay in pure instrumental organ music, although he also produced some fine vocal works. Among his compositions were seven sonatas for violin, gamba and cemballo; five wedding arias; a number of cantatas; and works for the organ and the harpsichord.