Posts tagged ‘Marienkirche’

January 13, 2013

2013-01-13 Notes from the Bench

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James Gerber, Music Associate

“Praeludium in D Major” by Dietrich Buxtehude

Dietrich Buxtehude (c.1637-1707) composed a variety of vocal and instrumental works, but he is best known for his important organ works which are included among most organists’ standard repertoire.  His organ works included pieces based on chorale melodies, such as the chorale fantasia heard during the prelude last week, and “free organ works”; compositions based on material freely created by the composer.  Buxtehude’s toccatas and praeludia (preludes), including today’s postlude, “Praeludium in D major” are of the free organ work type.

Germanic composers throughout the baroque era applied the term praeludium generically to a variety of free-style keyboard works.  Among the distinguishing characteristics of Buxtehude’s free organ works is a structure based on multiple sections that typically alternate between free, improvisatory styles and strict counterpoint.  A variety of baroque era free-form writing styles are heard in “Praeludium in D major” which include the stylus fantasticus (fantastic style) characterized by brilliant and rapid figuration, inspired by Italian toccatas, and the durezze e ligature (dissonant and connected), chordal sections with prolonged dissonances, another Italian influence.  The contrapuntal sections are typically brief fugues that are not extensively developed.

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