Dietrich Buxtehude


The Baroque master Buxtehude is one of the greatest Danish composers ever. His career was spread over three different regions: Denmark, southern Sweden and northern Germany. But Buxtehude considered himself a Dane. For the last forty years of his life he worked in Lübeck, where he was organist at the large Mariairche; before that, oddly enough, he had been organist in churches of the same name in both Helsingør and Helsingborg. His fame as an organist was very considerable. Bach walked all the way from Arnstadt to Lübeck to study with Buxtehude, and was crucially influenced by his meeting with the older composer, as was Händel. For a long time knowledge of Buxtehude's works was limited to the organ works and his major sacred choral works. Along with other Baroque composers, Buxtehude was "rediscovered" in the mid-nineteenth century, and his organ works were republished as an example of the style current before J.S. Bach. Interest in his chamber music works, however, has only gathered momentum in recent years. In these Buxtehude frolics with great imagination between learned contrapuntal traditions and a freer, more fanciful style. On the whole. Buxtehude's imagination is amazing, and gives his works a lively, improvisational feel. With our present-day fully-rounded picture of Buxtehude's works we can unhesitatingly count him as the greatest composer of the northern European Baroque in the period between Heinrich Schütz and J.S. Bach.