After writing about Haydn, and how much of his work remains generally unknown, I got to thinking about other composers whose worthy work has been overlooked. And one name came to mind immediately.
Handel went to visit him (and was offered a job, on the condition that he marry Buxtehude’s daughter—he departed shortly thereafter). He was a distinct influence on Brahms.
Bach walked 250 miles to Lübeck to hear him play, and spent three months there absorbing his music and techniques. Wow. Few modern bands excite that kind of devotion…
Buxtehude is mainly known for his organ works. He also, however, composed numerous works for voice, as well as chamber music. Only the librettos of his oratorios survive.
Here is a fine example of a vocal piece by Buxtehude, Quemadmodum desiderat cervus (BuxWV92).
Chamber music fans will enjoy the Sonata in D Major for viola da gamba, violone, and harpsichord (BuxWV267)
And finally, one of Buxtehude’s better known organ works, the Prelude, Fugue, and Chaconne in C Major (BuxWV137), played here much faster than anyone else, but with great verve and precision, by Ton Koopman (side note: the organ pipes used as a background to this video seem very Monty Pythonesque to me).
Those looking for more by Buxtehude will not be disappointed by YouTube.
Need sheet music? Go to the webpage of the International Dieterich Buxtehude Society. Its president, Ton Koopman (whom you heard above), has recorded all of Buxtehude’s surviving music, and has made the sheet music available for download. The downloads page also lists other online sources for Buxtehude’s music.
Image attributions: Portrait of Buxtehude, detail from the painting A Musical Party by Johannes Voorhout, 1674, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Imagebuxtehude.jpg
Portrait of J. S. Bach by Elias Gottlob Haussmann [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Johann_Sebastian_Bach.jpg, modified by C. Gallant, 2016.