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Dietrich Buxtehude

Dietrich Buxtehude (ca. 1637-1707), organist and composer of the Baroque period. Not only the year, but also the country of his birth is uncertain and disputed. Since he spent his early years in Helsingborg in Scania , at the time part of Denmark, he is by some considered a Danish composer. Others, however, claim that he was born at Oldesloe in Holstein, (Germany).

He was organist, first in Helsingborg, then at Elsinore, and last at the Marienkirche in Lübeck. His post in the free imperial city of Lübeck afforded him considerable latitude in his musical career and his autonomy was a model for the careers of later Baroque masters such as George Frideric Handel, Johann Mattheson[?], Georg Philipp Telemann and Johann Sebastian Bach. In 1705, Bach travelled from Arnstadt[?] on foot to meet the pre-eminent Lübeck organist and hear him play.

Unfortunately, many of Buxtehude's musical works have been lost. The librettos for his oratorios, for example, survive, but none of their scores have survived, which is particularly unfortunate, because his German oratorios seem to be the model for later works by Bach and Telemann. Bach's collection of seminal works preserved some of Buxtehude's organ masterpieces, though, and the publication of two volumes of Buxtehude's chamber sonatas during his lifetime facillatated their transmission through the years. Additionally, a number of his cantatas, also used by other composers as models, have surivived.

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