Spotlight on the Netherlands–German Sacred Cantatas II

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Program: #08-04   Air Date: Jan 14, 2008

This time, the wonderful Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Chorus guide us through the genius of Dietrich Buxtehude (c.1637-1707).


We continue our long and fruitful association with our partners at Radio Netherlands in presenting a series of concerts from the 2007 Holland Festival of Early Music at Utrecht.

We the web site provides more in-depth information about the music and performers we hear as well as more information about the festival (

NOTE: All of the music on this program was performed by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir withTon Koopman, conductor--and soloists Miriam Meyer, soprano, Bettina Pahn, soprano, Bogna Bartosz, alto, Jörg Dürmüller, tenor, and Klaus Mertens, bass.

Nun danket alle Gott, BuxWV 79 ("Now thank we all our God")
Gott fahret auf mit Jauchzen, BuxWV 33 ("God goeth up with Exaultation")
Frohlocket mit Haenden, BuxWV 29 ("O clap your hands, all ye people")
Benedicam Dominum, BuxWV 113 ("We thank Thee, O Lord")

Dietrich Buxtehude, who identified himself as Danish, was seemingly born in Oldesloe about the year 1637, the son of an organist and schoolmaster. His father moved briefly from Oldesloe, in the Duchy of Holstein, to Helsingborg as organist at the Mariekirke there and soon after to the Danish city of Helsingør, Hamlet’s Elsinore, as organist at the St Olai Kirke, a position he held for some thirty years, until his retirement in 1671. Buxtehude was taught by his father and from 1657 or 1658 until 1660 was organist at the Mariekirke in Helsingborg, a city separated from Helsingør by a narrow stretch of water. His next appointment was at the Mariekirke in the latter city. In 1668 he was elected organist at the Marienkirche in Lübeck, where he succeeded Franz Tunder, who had died the previous year, following custom by marrying Tunder’s younger daughter. Tunder’s elder daughter’s security had already been assured by her marriage to Samuel Franck, Cantor of the Marienkirche and the Catherineum Lateinschule, the choir-school that provided singers for the services of the Marienkirche.

At the Marienkirche in Lübeck Buxtehude made some changes in the musical traditions of the church, establishing a series of Abendmusik concerts given now on five Sunday afternoons in the year, events that attracted wide interest. As an organist Buxtehude represented the height of North German keyboard traditions, exercising a decisive influence over the following generation, notably on Johann Sebastian Bach, who undertook the long journey from Arnstadt to Lübeck to hear him play, outstaying his leave, to the dissatisfaction of his employers. Handel too visited Lübeck in 1703, with his Hamburg friend and colleague Mattheson. By this time there was a question of appointing a successor to Buxtehude, who was nearly seventy and had spent over thirty years at the Marienkirche. The condition of marriage to his predecessor’s daughter that Buxtehude had faithfully fulfilled proved unattractive, however, to the young musicians of the newer generation and the succession eventually passed to Johann Christian Schieferdecker, who married Buxtehude’s surviving daughter, predeceased by four others, three months after Buxtehude’s death in 1707.

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.--Naxos

This last work was performed by the Netherlands Bach Society conducted by Jos van Veldhoven looks at the cantata form from the time of Schutz (1585-1672) to Johann Christoph Bach (1637-1707). Soloists are Johanette Zomer, soprano, Marcel Beekman, tenor, and Bas Ramselaar, bass. All texts are from the Song of Solomon.

--JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH: Der Herr denket an uns, BWV 196 ("The Lord cares for us"--Perhaps the wedding for the pastor Johann Lorenz Stauber and Regina Wedemann, an aunt of Maria Barbara Bach).

Composer Info


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