Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707)


01Early Years20140707

Donald Macleod on Buxtehude's early years, when he followed in his father's footsteps.

Donald Macleod explores the early life of Dieterich Buxtehude, who reigned supreme in the late 17th century as one of the world's greatest organists. As a young man Buxthude followed in his father's footsteps, taking his first post as organist in the church of St. Mary's in Helsingborg, in present day Sweden ? his father's old job.

02Organist In Lubeck20140708

Donald Macleod focuses on Buxtehude's work as organist at St Mary's Church in Lubeck.

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Dieterich Buxtehude. Buxtehude was around thirty years old when he took up the position he would occupy for the rest of his life - organist and Werkmeister at St Mary's church in Lübeck, on the Baltic coast of northern Germany. In today's programme Donald Macleod describes one of the more unusual preconditions of the job: marriage to his predecessor's daughter.

03Evening Music20140709

Donald Macleod explores the unique public concerts Buxtehude staged.

Dieterich Buxtehude was much more than just a church organist; he composed cantatas, oratorios, chamber music and, at St Mary's in Lübeck, he organised some of the earliest public concerts ever held in a church. Music of the pieces of music featured in these Abendmusiken ? 'evening musics' ? have been lost, but in today's programme Donald Macleod presents an extract from what might be Buxtehude's only surviving abendmusik oratorio.


In today's programme Donald Macleod explores some of the musicians who travelled to hear Dieterich Buxtehude perform. One day towards the end of 1705, a young man of twenty turned up at Buxtehude's door at St. Mary's church in Lübeck. He introduced himself as Johann Sebastian Bach. He had heard about Buxtehude's legendary organ playing and had walked all the way from Arnstadt ? 280 miles away ? to hear him play in person. Bach had taken leave of his post for four weeks. He stayed for three months. On his return, Bach got into trouble on two counts: for staying away so long, and for now playing the chorales in such a bizarre way that the congregation was thoroughly confused.

Donald Macloed discusses some of the visitors drawn to Buxtehude's church in Lubeck.

05 LASTNothing Is More Useless Than Old Music20140711

Donald Macleod explores the final years and legacy of Dieterich Buxtehude. An account from just after Buxtehude's death, in 1707, gives a clue as to the fate that befell much of his music: "Everything that (such) men wrote with so much trouble and work... has not the slightest value now... much of it has gone into the stove, in place of kindling, much has been given to people who can use all sorts of scarps and paper in their shops... for nothing is more useless than old music.".

Donald Macleod explores Buxtehude's final years and legacy.