Praeludium in D major (BuxWV 139) – Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Born in Oldesloe, Holstein, the Danish or German organist and composer Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707) was one of the most esteemed and influential composers of his time. Buxtehude settled at Lübeck in 1688 as organist of St. Mary’s Church. There he gained such fame as a composer that the city became a mecca for musicians of northern Germany. The young Handel visited him in 1703, and in 1705 young Bach walked more than 320 kilometres to see him. Both young men hoped to succeed the master at Lübeck, but marriage to one of his daughters was a condition and each found this unacceptable.
Buxtehude’s Praeludium in D major (BuxWV139), this morning’s organ postlude, opens with a twenty-bar introduction whose extemporary style might suggest an organist exploring an unfamiliar instrument before settling to their task. There follows a four-voice fugue on a subject in which a repeated note prominently features; a sustained passage in which Buxtehude demonstrates a knowledge of complex harmony; and the lively, toccata-like section (interrupted by another sustained passage) with which the piece concludes.